Updated: Jan 13
Listen, weirdo: I don't mean "f*cks* in a good way.
People-pleasing doesn't give your Happy Hormones the ride of their life.
It doesn't whip out the special lingerie and start tying them up.
Nope - it simply messes up your shot at joy, because people-pleasing confuses the sh*t out of your Happy Hormones and leaves you really out of whack.
Okay don't worry - you're not totally f*cked. We're gonna solve this problem.
But first, let me explain what I mean so you can see the full picture:
We've all got four Happy Hormones that our bodies release in response to different types of stimuli, and they make us feel good (I'm not calling them Happy Hormones for nothing). Yay! Thanks, Bod!
They're called oxytocin, seratonin, endorphins, and dopamine. And they're all magnificent - seriously!
But when you're in the habit of people-pleasing...
...like, to the extent where you aren't reaching your goals or even setting them and you're definitely not enjoying your life and it's normal for you to stay up worrying about the tone your boss said "hey" in and why he seemed so mad at you even though he just promoted you and you've done nothing wrong because you made absolute sure that you wouldn't...
...well, you've gotten to a point where your Happy Hormones are dependent on your people-pleasing lifestyle, and joy without pleasing everyone seems...well, basically impossible, tbh.
I know how terrifying, stressful, draining, and generally sh*tty that feels because I lived that way for a long time.
And when you're trying to STOP living that way, it can be super hard to even know where to start - because the people-pleasing habits are so internalized.
But any self-destructive habit, like people-pleasing, really just tells us what our body thinks it needs to do in order to survive.
And when we unpack that, we can see concrete steps out of the black hole we're sick of living in.
It goes like this:
You've got oxytocin (often called "the love hormone") which is released when in physical contact with others, or when experiencing feelings of love and friendship. Woohoo!
The deliciousness of oxytocin, something all of us humans need, is a people-pleaser's motivation. "Yessss," we have cried, "please give me healthy oxytocin to create lasting feelings of trust and safety in my life!"
(Okay, maybe not those exact words, but...basically.)
Most of us people-pleasers are seeking safety more than anything else, and oxytocin plays a huge role in feeling safe long-term.
BUT as an active people-pleaser, you can only follow your natural desire for oxytocin, usually desperately (being everyone's BFF, bringing unnecessary presents to every work meeting...) but are often left wondering why you still don't regularly feel safe, secure, and deeply loved.
Here's why: you have to actually open up emotionally to experience oxytocin!
That's...vulnerable. And most people-pleasers ain't about to go down that road. Right?
Let others know I have needs, desires, and opinions of my own? Are you f*cking kidding me?
Instead, if you're a people-pleaser in the depths of your struggle you will continue to desperately seek oxytocin and simultaneously be left wondering what's wrong with you and why you feel so f*cking insecure.
Then there's our good ol' pal seratonin, who is good and right and true - the hormone we experience when we receive recognition and praise. Oh hell yeah! Gimme gimme gimme!
Pride, status, accolades, oh my! A people-pleaser's candy shop. I'm serving people?! And they're proud of me?! And now they're giving me praise?!?! Yesss!!!
That's the vibe with seratonin.
Yeah, people-pleaser's paradise.
Seratonin, like all of these hormones, is really great and really healthy for us.
But its role in a people-pleasing cycle is that it will lead you to keep taking on more responsibilities, working more hours, giving more advice...until you're the poster girl for burnout.
We can't have that. (And we're not gonna - trust me. We'll get there.)
Leadership, care-taking, success, and being an awesome mentor/mentee are all beautiful things, so cheers to seratonin. But when you're a people-pleaser, the reward of seratonin can drive you to do ridiculous things that f*ck up your energy.
Because when you're a people-pleaser, your relationship to seratonin be f*cked.
Then there's dopamine. It's essentially "the reward hormone" because it gets us through our day by motivating us with a rewarding feeling when we accomplish little things.
Dopamine is released when you feel like people like you (say you make a coworker laugh), or when you complete a small task (like folding all your laundry), and, in this way, it helps us form habits (both good and bad). We do the thing we wanted to do, dopamine rewards us, and we want to do the thing again.
Dopamine is the lil' devil behind addictive behaviors, and people-pleasing is exactly that: an addictive behavioral habit that makes us feel rewarded (in the moment) for pleasing others.
But in actuality, people-pleasing is keeping you from fulfilling your own goals and dreams, truly loving yourself and others, and living an authentic, radiant life.
So, um, excuse me, dopamine? GET BACK IN LINE, PLEASE.
Lastly, we have endorphins. They are released in response to pain, which makes them super reliable. Want some endorphins? Exercise! Go for a run! Work your hot lil' ass off in the sack! (Yes, this time I'm referring to the lingerie and tying-up.)
Endorphins give us a boost of pleasure to help us keep going when we want to give up. Yassss!!
And if you're deep in the habit of self-destructive people-pleasing and you can't quite see a way out (yet), you might be running on these right about now.
When we feel like destroying ourselves, we can rely on endorphins to keep us going down a path we actually don't like.
When our intuition is saying NO, we can use endorphins to convince ourselves it's saying yes!
For example: anyone go nuts on the treadmill to suppress your feelings of fear and suffering?
OMG I used to do that too!!
But we're not doing that anymore. We have WAY cooler sh*t to do now.
So is this making sense? For a people-pleaser...
1. Oxytocin (the love hormone) is the main motivation (safety & security, please) but feels excruciatingly inaccessible,
2. Seratonin (the pride hormone) makes you feel like you're making a difference as you take on 1,200 tasks...but leaves you wondering why you still don't feel a lasting sense of purpose,
3. Dopamine (the habit hormone) rewards you for every little thing you check off your to-do list but your to-do list is a goddamn mess, and
4. Endorphins (the painkiller hormone) help you suppress it all so you can stay in the sh*tty pattern you know, instead of exploring awesome patterns you don't.
Okay, okay, but before you see this as a reason to hate yourself, let's take a second to THANK our brains, our bodies, and our Happy Hormones because - even though they might be a lil' f*cked sometimes - they are actually doing their absolute best to help you stay alive.
It's all they know how to do! They are not conscious.
The good news is, you are!
And that's why you are 100% capable of choosing a new path for yourself.
This might be the millionth time you've heard that, or it might be the first.
You might be so thrilled to hear that it's possible to end this super painful cycle.
Or you might be exhausted from trying to do it so many times by just beating your mind, body, and soul into a new pattern and realizing that never f*cking works but you don't know another way.
I got another way for you.
It's that thing you keep thinking you're giving everyone else.
It's that thing you're so hungry for but have told yourself for years that you don't deserve.
Yeah, dude. It's LOVE.
With super self-love, we can literally re-wire our own brains - the thing is, most of us don't know how to do that.
But, like...people-pleasers and self-love? Where do we even begin!?
I'm gonna show you.
I'm gonna show you a CONCRETE way to begin.
Of course you are, you fabulous little minx.
Go read the next blog: How to un-f*ck your Happy Hormones.