Exhausted. Frustrated. Annoyed. Resentful. These are words that hundreds of clients have used to describe how they feel. They are overcommitted and at their limits. But, how did they get this way? One reason might go far beyond the circumstances of the pandemic and working from home – it might be because underlying all that, they have a strong Pleaser saboteur.
This week I introduce you to one of the most common saboteurs I see in my clients and my friends. It’s one that I’ve observed to be more common among my rising women leader clients, but also present in many men. You’ll learn how to catch Pleaser in action, how to weaken it in yourself, and how much better life will be after you do so!
If you’re not yet familiar with the term “saboteur”, here’s a refresh. We all have innate and developed strengths. But when we overuse a strength, especially in times of stress or anxiety, the dark side of those strengths come out. (To learn more about the overall model this comes from, read more here.)
The first thing you need to know about the Pleaser saboteur is that it “indirectly tries to gain acceptance and affection by helping, pleasing, rescuing, or flattering others.” In addition, Pleaser often “loses sight of own needs and becomes resentful as a result.”* Sound familiar?
Dark Side Characteristics of the Pleaser Saboteur:*
- Strong need to be liked by people and attempts to earn their acceptance by helping, pleasing, rescuing, or flattering them.
- Needs frequent reassurance by others about their acceptance and affection.
- Can’t express one’s own needs openly and directly. Instead, does so indirectly by having people feel obligated to reciprocate care.
I know, I know. It can be painful to see some of these behaviors in writing – especially when it’s like looking in the mirror and seeing yourself. It’s part of human nature to want to be seen and heard and accepted. But when there are underlying negative emotions – like fear or worry or anxiety – driving that behavior, then beware: your mind is being controlled by a saboteur.
Let’s look more closely at how the negative saboteur side of Pleaser shows up, then after that I’ll share with you the amazing strength side that will shine more brightly once you learn how to defeat the dark side.
What does the Pleaser saboteur make you think about feelings and emotions?*
- Well, quite frankly, the Pleaser wants you to believe that expressing your own needs directly is selfish.
- Pleaser also makes you worried that if you insist on your own needs being met that you might drive others away.
- And also Pleaser makes you feel resentful for being taken for granted, and at the same time makes it difficult for you to express that you feel like you’re being taken for granted.
So complicated! But, can you see now how when Pleaser is in control you can come to look at others as not caring about you and your feelings?
When your Pleaser saboteur is controlling your mind, you may be thinking thoughts such as:*
- “To be a good person I should put the needs of others ahead of my own.”
- “It bothers me when people don’t notice or care about what I have done for them.”
- “They can be so selfish and ungrateful!”
- “I give away too much and don’t think of myself enough.”
- “I can make anyone like me.”
- “If I don’t rescue people, who will?”
By now you should have better awareness of how the Pleaser saboteur shows up in yourself and in others. If you’re wondering why you keep getting caught up in the drama of the Pleaser, then it might be helpful to know more about how the Pleaser justifies its usefulness. Be especially cautious about these justification lies because these will show up when you are trying to weaken the Pleaser.
Pleaser’s Justification Lies*
- “I don’t do this for myself. I do it for others.”
- “I help others selflessly and don’t expect anything in return.”
- “The world would be a better place if everyone did the same.”
Ultimately, the Pleaser can cause real damage to you and others around you. If you’re not yet convinced why you need to stop the Pleaser in its tracks, take a look here at how the Pleaser impacts you and others.
Impact on Self and Others*
- Can jeopardize taking care of one’s own needs including emotionally, physically, or financially.
- Can lead to resentment and burnout.
- Others can develop dependence rather than learn to take care of themselves, and feel obligated, guilty, or manipulated.
Here’s the good news: underneath the dark side of the Pleaser is the light side, the good side, the underlying strengths.
Strengths of the Pleaser
When you’re not in Saboteur or survival mode, your Sage brain is activated, giving you access to empathy, creativity, and the kind of resourcefulness that enables you to utilize your fabulous strengths. For those with a strong Pleaser saboteur, their underlying strengths include being:*
- Loving and giving
- Tuned into others’ feelings and needs
- Emotionally self-aware
- Able to cultivate a high level of emotional intelligence
Definitely valuable strengths that make you exceptionally skilled with forming and maintaining relationships in personal life and in work.
Now that you have awareness about the Pleaser’s strength side, as well as how the Pleaser shows up, controls your mind, and tries to justify its existence, you are ready to learn how to weaken it.
How to Weaken the Dark Side of the Pleaser saboteur:
- Learn how strong your own Pleaser saboteur is by taking the 5-minute saboteur assessment here
- Read the detailed online assessment report to build awareness of the full picture of saboteurs that are strongest for you so you can catch the negative thoughts and feelings to intercept the saboteur and stop it in its tracks
- If you want a more personalized analysis of the report, I invite you to meet with me for a Saboteur Diagnosis session at no cost. SCHEDULE HERE
- Practice PQ reps and the Sage perspective, critical foundational practices from the Positive Intelligence mental fitness model
- Strengthen your Sage powers to more intentionally and thoughtfully use the strength side of your Pleaser
What’s the payoff for doing so?
When you use your Sage brain and the strength side of your Pleaser and other saboteurs, you experience your highest level of performance, much greater creativity, and sustained happiness. For Pleasers especially, you’ll experience much greater joy and connection in your relationships, and let go of all the stress and resentment. I want this for you – and for all of us. Imagine a world where we could each be free from the saboteur drama, and utilize our strengths on a regular basis?
If you’d like to learn more about the other saboteurs in this model, check out past blog posts here.
*Source: Shirzad Chamine and his Positive Intelligence mental fitness model. Erin completed her certification with Shirzad and Positive Intelligence, Inc. in the spring of 2021 and is now a Certified Positive Intelligence mental fitness coach (CPQC).