Many queer people grow up with a sense that they must prove themselves to the people in their lives to be deserving of love.
In adulthood, this manifests in people-pleasing behaviour, where we cast aside our needs and desires for the comfort of the people around us.It can manifest in the big things – undermining your own needs or making yourself uncomfortable in romantic relationships and friendships – or the little things, such as staying at an event longer than you want to, just because your friend would be sad if you left early.This can be very draining and learning to set boundaries can be very difficult.
But we are now adults with the capacity to learn and heal from our emotional history.
Here’s what you can do about it and learn to be your authentic self. →
1. Many queer people grew up having to watch what they say and how they act in order to feel safe.
Growing up queer in a heteronormative world can be an isolating experience, and we can feel like we don't belong. For some of us, we might have developed a deep need to please others in order to feel liked and accepted. As we get older, these behaviours can become entrenched. Some of us may become what is sometimes called a “people-pleaser”.
2. Being a people-pleaser can take a toll on our mental health.
People-pleasers often prioritise the needs of friends and loved ones at the expense of their own needs.
We might feel compelled to overspend on a gift, even though it was out of our budget. Or it can be in the more minor things, like overstaying at a party even though we wanted to leave, or saying yes to an invite even though we didn't want to go. For some of us, we might even feel compelled to give in to a stranger's advances, even though we were uncomfortable.
3. People-pleasing is often driven by a lack of acceptance for who we are.
We might worry that others might dislike us, or that we'd lose their affection if we didn't give as much as we did.
And for some of us, we might not feel like who we are at our core is unlovable. We might not even be conscious of this. But this is why expressing our needs to others can sometimes feel wrong or selfish, because we feel like we don’t deserve it. So we might feel like we’re only of value if we’re in service to others.
4. People-pleasing is draining. Therapy can help.
Therapy can help us reduce our people-pleasing behaviours by first becoming aware of when we are in people-pleasing mode. We can learn to draw boundaries, understand when we should give and take, and practise how to say ‘no’ to things in a healthy way.
Therapy can also help us uncover some of our core beliefs about who we are. It can help us understand that at our core, we are worthy of love, even if others might dislike us, or even if we don't do things for others.
“Stop People-Pleasing” is one of the guided therapy programs available in our private beta.
Designed with leading LGBTQIA+ psychotherapists, Voda combines mindfulness with cognitive behavioural therapy to develop digital therapy programs centred for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Get early access at Voda.co.