Journal prompts for people-pleasers

Catherine Andrews
4 min readJun 9, 2021

Learning how we can meet our own needs

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Unsplash

This article is cross-posted from my weekly newsletter, The Sunday Soother, a newsletter about clarity, intention, and useful tips for creating more meaning in your life that goes out every Sunday morning. Subscribe here. I am also a coach who works with sensitive people so they can stop second-guessing, make decisions confidently and live the life they’ve always dreamed of. You can learn more about working with me here.

I have a long history with people-pleasing.

Happy Sunday, Soothers. People-pleasing is a condition I’ve dealt with for much of my life, mostly unaware of it happening. I would believe that other people’s emotional states were my responsibility; that belief, plus an uncanny ability to understand people’s actual emotional states despite whatever they were saying, plus some grade-A hypervigilance, left me scanning the horizon every second of every day for a shift in somebody else’s mood. And when I would sense that shift, I would go into action: checking in with them. Doing things for then that they hadn’t asked for. Making my own emotional states neutral and small so they wouldn’t be affected by them. Never asking for anything. Pretend everything was okay at all times.

The reality was, I was addicted to the emotional okay-ness of other people. And to some level, I still am. It feels very unsafe sometimes when somebody else is in a bad or sad mood, and sometimes, it feels unsafe when I am in those moods, too, because I assume another will want to leave me when I feel those things because I am making their experience less than optimal.

It’s a real head trip.

Resentment is a huge sign for me that I’ve gone back into people-pleasing mode. The people-pleasing resentment loop runs like this: “I’ve done so much for them; why aren’t they noticing it, appreciating it, or doing it for me?” Resentment. Then, I would feel needs or wants in my heart, but be too afraid to state them out loud, and get resentful for the other’s inability to literally read my mind, anticipate and meet my need without me saying anything, and manage MY emotions.

This is the tough reality that all of us must learn, though it sounds cruel when stated plainly: Nobody…

Catherine Andrews

Teaching awakening + healing through vulnerability + self-compassion. Finding hope in a messy world. Author of the Sunday Soother.