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A couple of years back while absent-mindedly brooding about a request, I paused and noticed the thoughts. At that moment, it hit me that people-pleasing is code for I am anxious. I’ve people-pleased (or contemplated it) because I was anxious about something. In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I talk about getting grounded about our anxiety-driven habits so that we can be more intentional and take better care of ourselves. Note, this episode isn’t about anxiety disorders.

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5 key topics in this episode

  • We really need to connect to The Why behind our actions. Our why communicates whether we’re doing things from a place of anxiety or because we want to. Yes, we may well be kind, generous, conscientious and keen to pull our weight, but if the why behind something is that we’re, for example, afraid of being disliked, this is what turns it into people-pleasing. So a lot of the time, it’s not so much what we’re doing but why we’re doing it.
  • Our nervous system remembers everything. In situations where we are used to responding in a particular way, our body picks up on cues and sends signals that we interpret to, for instance, people-please. In situations where our typical response is to be anxious, to behave anxiously, even if it doesn’t necessarily warrant it, it will send anxiety.
  • When we pause and tune in to what’s driving our thoughts, feelings, actions and choices, we have an opportunity to notice anxiety. e.g. I am anxious I won’t be liked/respected/wanted. I am anxious that I’ll be rejected/abandoned/judged. I’m anxious that I will disappoint or hurt others.

Our anxiety communicates one or a few of the following that basically amounts to not taking care in some way:

  • We’re mixing up the past and present.
  • We’ve frozen.
  • We’re silencing intuition and knowledge.
  • We’re listening to ego over intuition.
  • We are in a child role and playing a role.
  • We’re trying to control the uncontrollable, whether it’s life in general or other people’s feelings and behaviour.
  • We’re engaging in catastrophic thinking and feeding worry.
  • There’s fear about not getting something that we want.
  • We’ve taken on too much, are expecting too much of ourselves, or are going about things in a way that busts our boundaries or sucks the joy and curiosity out of it.
  • Anxiety is a notification to do one or both of two things: take action and/or reassure ourselves. That said, while self-soothing is undoubtedly super beneficial, we can’t just focus on that and not take action when we really need to. Anxiety won’t go away if the situation that needs our action boundary hasn’t.

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