Ep 6: How People-Pleasing Impacts Physical and Mental Health

Published on: Apr 15, 2024

Ever find yourself stretched too thin, trying to make everyone else happy at the expense of your own well-being?

During our heart-to-heart episode today, we delve into how chronic people-pleasing can sabotage our health.

 

Episode Chapters:

1:26  Free Holistic Mental Wellness Class Invitation

4:06  Introduction to People-Pleasing

8:00 Trauma & People Pleasing

11:51 Neglecting Self Care & Suppressing Needs

14:34 Emotional Labor & People Pleasing

17:12 Compromising Dietary Choices & People Pleasing

19:43 Neglecting Medical Attention & Mental Health Needs

22:06 Engaging in Harmful Coping Mechanisms

27:22 Recap and Self-Reflection

 

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Transcript

 

Please note that the following transcript was generated using AI technology. Yes, that means the transcript probably has a few minor mistakes.

 

Haley: 

Howdy friend. Welcome to unforked, an unfiltered holistic nutrition and mental wellness podcast for evolving folks that crave a delicious life of fulfillment. Haley, here I am, your host, a trauma informed functional medicine dietitian, holistic mental wellness coach and the founder of the fulfilled fork. On this show, we dish up insights and activations while learning about sustainable mind, body, soul, lifestyle practices. It’s sweet, it’s savory and it’ll spice up your life. To stay connected, make sure you sign up for our unforked email list at thefulfilledforkcom. Forward slash links. Let’s dig into the episode. Thefulfilledforkcom. Forward slash links. Let’s dig into the episode.

Haley: 

Howdy friends, today we are talking about people-pleasing. We’re talking about people-pleasing and health behaviors and how those two things are very intertwined. Most people wouldn’t first think, oh my gosh, I tend to people-please and think how that affects their physical and mental health, but that is exactly what we are talking about today. I’m going to help you recognize where this may be showing up in your life. We’re going to talk about why. So why are some of the reasons that we end up people-pleasing? And we’re going to talk a little bit about a super cool offer I have for you, which is to join a free class that I will be hosting. This information today is going to really set you up to understand my free class on a better level. You’re probably going to get even more excited about the free class, because we can only talk about so much here, right, and this is one of the underlying pieces that really influences our physical health, our mental health and overall mental wellness. So in that class, we are going to be talking about the framework that I have that takes you from struggling to thriving in your life. So you already know we are going to the moon. We are here to live our most fulfilled lives. I’m not here to be average and I know if you’re hanging around here too. You are also not here to just live a bleh kind of life. You are here to fucking thrive and have your most delicious, fulfilled life. So that’s the first thing we’re going to be talking about in this class. I haven’t named the class, by the way, yet, so I’m just calling it the class. The name will come, it’ll come, and then you’ll hear about it. So the next thing that we’re going to be talking about in that class is recognizing why you’re not seeing the results you desire in your physical and mental health, and these results could be like why you’re not having more energy, why your moods aren’t stable, why you’re having brain fog and your memory is not quite as sharp and your cognition is not quite as sharp as you would like it to be. So then, we are going to be talking about the practices that cultivate mental wellness in our lives, and what I want you to do when you watch this free class and or listen to it, is recognize where in your life, like, what practices could you implement to cultivate greater mental wellness and lead you to that fulfilled and beautiful and delicious life? So we’re going to talk about it at the end a little bit again. But if you’re so stoked as stoked as I am I am fucking stoked for this If you are as stoked as I am, sign up for the unforked email list in the show notes and you will be the first to know when this unnamed mental wellness class becomes available. I cannot wait to see you in there.

Haley: 

And let’s dive right into the episode about people-pleasing. So we are going to look at people-pleasing tendencies. These can also be called fawning behaviors. So in the fight flight freeze, we also have. Fawning can also be called fawning behaviors. So in the fight flight freeze, we also have fawning and the fawn is like more of a people-pleasing tendency. It is when we disconnect from our own needs, our sensations, our emotions, and we merge these needs, values, demands with other people to keep us safe. That’s what the fawning is you just go along with whatever somebody else wants, and this doesn’t have to be a physical person, it can be culture, it could be a group of people, it doesn’t have to just be one specific person. But what happens with this people-pleasing and fawning behavior is that, yeah, we put everyone else first and everything else above us and diminish our own needs, and that, for many of us, is how we end up either gaining weight, losing weight, we have elevated cortisol levels, maybe we end up with diabetes or prediabetes because of increased stress, because our bodies are out of balance and are breaking down, and this is a result of many different circumstances and physiological changes that can happen when we are basically in a trauma response. So people-pleasing tendencies, fawning behaviors these are both trauma responses. They often come about because of a repeated, so not necessarily just a one-time, traumatic event situation. It could be a relationship, it could be cultural trauma, like systemic racism, it could be something like that. It could be lots of different things. So what happens, though, is that, over time, we learn that again it’s safer to merge our needs, demands, desires with everybody else, so that we can stay safe and get through life a little bit easier.

Haley: 

So there’s nothing wrong with you if you have noticed people-pleasing behaviors in yourself. If you really resonate with this, no shame. We don’t want to be shaming ourselves. That’s not what we’re here for. It is not an empowered behavior. If you catch yourself doing it, it’s absolutely okay, and we just move on from there. Right? I see you, I’ve been there. I totally resonate with you if this is you, but we do not want to be shaming ourselves. So, just if you need to take a pause during this episode and come back to it, please feel free to do so. If you need to, please resource yourself, so have a chat with somebody like a trusted mental health professional, take care of yourself, and if you need to do some breathing exercises, do whatever you need to do. If you find any of this content in this episode, if it activates you in any way, okay, we are going to dive right in and explore these various patterns that manifest in our health-related decisions and actions, and we’re going to look at the importance of recognizing and addressing these tendencies for overall well-being.

Haley: 

The trauma response so we talked about that already. We talked a little bit about a trauma response as in like cultural, but it can also happen from socialization, so like socialization in your family. Maybe you witness somebody in your family people pleasing. Maybe you witness somebody in your family people-pleasing and you learn from them that, oh my gosh, this is what I need to do to stay safe. So it can happen from that too Usually. So with those trauma events, we talked about the repeated trauma events, the repeated traumatic events that can happen in our lives, and so this can also be seen in people with complex trauma, and that is not a topic we’re going to go into today. Complex trauma is a complex topic, so if you’d like to learn more about that one, please let me know and we can do an episode on that.

Haley: 

Otherwise, what are some other reasons we might turn to people-pleasing and how do we end up people-pleasing? So some of the ways that might show up in our life are that maybe we have a hard time saying no, we might constantly be seeking the approval of other people, we might be bottling up our emotions and maybe even bottling them up until one day they just burst and overflow because we’ve been taking care of everybody else and then one day it’s like, oh my God, I just can’t take this anymore and you explode. That can happen. We might feel responsible for other people’s emotions and this can also be linked to codependency. Codependency is something that happens commonly in people pleasing Also another topic.

Haley: 

Compromising our own values is a thing that can happen and maybe we don’t even necessarily know that we have any values. Maybe we don’t know what they are. We’ve never even taken the time to recognize that we can have needs, desires, preferences, emotions, values. If we are people pleasers, sometimes when conflict arises, our natural instinct is to appease others. I resonate a lot with this one. Conflict is very difficult for me, um, and historically has been in the past not as much anymore, but definitely in the past. It has been an appeasing situation for most of my life. We might also experience guilt if maybe we’re upset with others or something happened in our life and we immediately blame ourselves. This can also turn out to be self-gaslighting and not basically beating ourselves up and not acknowledging our own needs, emotions, etc. So that’s how it shows up in more like in relational and other areas. That’s mostly how it shows up in other areas of our life.

Haley: 

And now I want to dive into how I see people pleasing influencing and showing up in our health. So, physical health and mental health how does people pleasing show up in our physical and mental health behaviors? The first way I see it showing up is that we neglect self-care routines and suppress personal needs. I say we again because I am a recovering people pleaser. I am right there with you Again no shame, no shame whatsoever. So you might see yourself neglecting self-care routines and suppressing your personal needs in your health and wellness. So people pleasers frequently deprioritize their self-care practices to accommodate other people’s demands and or avoid perceived conflicts.

Haley: 

This one resonates with myself a lot. I totally wouldn’t take care of myself at one point in my life to avoid conflict, to accommodate other people’s demands. And this doesn’t even have to be another person. It could be a job. It could be a job. Okay, just don’t limit it to one thing. It could be culture, it could be a job, it could be lots of things. This outside force in which we are pleasing right, it does not have to be a person. That’s usually the way we hear people pleasing talked about, but it can be those other things, okay.

Haley: 

So when we are neglecting our self-care routines and suppressing our personal needs, how does this manifest? It can show up as skipping exercise routines. Maybe we don’t even hardly move our body throughout the day. Maybe we ignore our hunger cues and skip meals and underfeed, and this might also show up as an eating disorder. Maybe we, on the flip side of that, disregard our fullness cues, disregard our fullness cues, disregard our signals, such as pain, such as depression, such as anxiety, and just say, oh, it’s nothing, it’s so normal. Maybe we compromise our sleep schedule. Maybe we even neglect personal hygiene to meet external needs or obligations of other folks.

Haley: 

The second way this can show up in our health behavior is overextending emotional labor. Emotional labor is something that many women in particular experience, but it can be experienced by anyone, regardless of gender. Emotional labor essentially is regulating or managing the emotional expression of other people, and this can happen in a family, it can happen in a work environment, it can happen in a relationship. It can happen in a lot of different areas, but essentially this most often happens. If we are overextending emotional labor, we are just managing everybody else’s emotions and this can lead to the physical exhaustion. Mental exhaustion can lead to heightened stress levels, lack of personal boundaries, and all of these in turn can alter our genetic expression and our physiology. So maybe it shows up as excess cortisol because our stress levels are skyrocketed, maybe our sleep patterns are messed up and it can change our eating behaviors.

Haley: 

So in this particular, I’m going to come up with an example. So this particular example would be say somebody is in healthcare we’re going to be a nurse. So say this person’s a nurse in healthcare and they are just absolutely exhausted, managing everybody else’s emotions all day, and just stressed, just stressed. Maybe they’re managing the emotions of their co-workers, maybe they’re managing the emotions of their patients as well, and maybe they do it when they get home too, in their personal life. So this particular nurse has a huge stress load and that increases their cortisol levels, which can change our hunger, which can make it harder to go to sleep. Maybe this person is not getting enough sleep. They are therefore, because of not getting enough sleep, craving sugary foods, and maybe they’re extra hungry because they have more stress as well. So here, yeah, so that’s just an example of how it can perhaps show up in a person. Okay.

Haley: 

The third way it shows up in our health behaviors is we might compromise dietary choices. So if we are people-pleasing, if we are fawning, we might be compromising our dietary choices to accommodate other people’s preferences in social situations. So maybe we are consuming foods that trigger allergies or intolerances. I’ve done that. I’ve done that. I have a histamine intolerance and for me, people are out having fun, people are out having fun having a few drinks and I would consume drinks, which then, in turn, would make my throat swell up, because I wanted to be a part of the situation, right, I wanted to engage with these people and sometimes, to be honest, I couldn’t really stand up for myself and say actually, no, no, I don’t want that drink, no, that makes me feel really sick and, holy shit, I can’t breathe. If I have much of this, I can’t breathe. That’s really important. So we can compromise our dietary choices by consuming those foods or beverages that trigger allergies or intolerances, maybe adhering to restrictive diets to fit in.

Haley: 

So say, you’re at a party and you’re eyeing that pizza because, man, that for me, pineapple and pepperoni pizza just looks so good, so good. You can smell it, the cheese. Okay, I really want this pizza. And then you overhear your friend and they say, oh my God, that person just ate that pizza. That is so greasy it is going to make them break out. They are bad for eating that pizza. And then you think, oh my God, oh, I’m not gonna eat that pizza, I don’t want to break out. It’s not safe to eat that pizza. So in this situation, a friend made a comment that shamed people who ate pizza, and so this person is deciding. So this person is deciding actually, I don’t want to eat pizza because I’d rather fit in. I’d rather fit in and so I’d rather not eat at all.

Haley: 

The next way that people-pleasing can show up in our health behaviors is that we might neglect medical attention or mental health needs. So a lot of people that have people-pleasing tendencies might delay or avoid seeking medical attention for fear of inconveniencing other people. So maybe that’s their family and they also don’t want to appear demanding because, oh man, yeah, it’s not really that bad, it’s not that bad, I don’t need to go in, it’s okay. It’s okay, I don’t need to go get my mental health checked out, these symptoms aren’t that bad. So what happens when we neglect medical attention and mental health needs? It can lead to prolonged suffering.

Haley: 

We can make existing medical conditions worse, and this includes mental health conditions worse, by not seeking help, and I will say I have done that. I have. I have done that because I wasn’t important enough to get mental health help. I could deal with it on my own, it was okay. It was okay, I didn’t. I didn’t need, I didn’t need help from anybody else. I can do it, I can take care of it. I can take care of it. So we might also miss opportunities in this case for early intervention and treatment. Maybe my panic attacks wouldn’t have gotten as bad, maybe I wouldn’t have gone through some of the situations in my life had I not neglected and honestly been too afraid and too proud I don’t know what else to call it too proud to seek out mental health help. Maybe I wouldn’t have gone through some of the traumatic events. I don’t know, we can’t know, but the point is is that we might miss opportunities for early intervention, early treatment, and we don’t want to miss those things. Those are very important. Those are very, very important. So, with the neglecting our mental health needs, the neglecting our mental health needs, this can also include dismissing or minimizing emotional struggles to avoid burdening others and appearing needy. So we kind of talked about that one already.

Haley: 

The next way that people-pleasing can show up in our health behaviors is that we might engage in coping mechanisms, in particular, harmful coping mechanisms. We all have coping mechanisms. It’s okay to have coping mechanisms, but if we can have healthier coping mechanisms and be aware of our coping mechanisms, that is really important. That is really important. So coping mechanisms are like substance abuse and disordered eating patterns, like binging. This could also be restricting, can also include various forms of self-harm, and we engage in these harmful coping mechanisms in an effort to cope with the stress and emotional turmoil that happens when we people please Because it does not feel good. Okay, it does not feel good, but it’s our normal. It’s just normal for us. And until we recognize that there’s a different way I can live, I don’t have to live like this.

Haley: 

I want to talk a little bit more about the substance abuse piece. So this, of course, could be alcohol, binge drinking, it could be drugs, right, it could even be using weed as a way to relax and check out right and calm ourselves. And sometimes we just start turning to these because we don’t know how else to feel. Okay, even if it’s temporary or for a moment. And with the substance abuse piece, there’s also many nutrition implications that can come from this. So one example we’ll just use alcohol as an example. So, oh, and smoking Cigarettes.

Haley: 

So if we’re talking about smoking cigarettes, that is putting oxidative stress on our bodies and it’s altering our genetic expression and it’s changing our hunger and fullness cues and it’s changing our nutrient needs. We might get sick more often. People who smoke cigarettes have a much higher need for vitamin C and a lot of times they are not getting that right. It’s not the first priority to get enough vitamin C if we for smoking cigarettes. So with the alcohol piece, again, that one can be really disrupting the inflammation in our body and our detoxification systems. So if somebody has a potential for disrupted detoxification anyhow, so maybe we have genetic variations that make it more difficult for us to detoxify certain substances, that could definitely be putting more stress on our body and in turn we’ll also say that this person has not been eating properly because instead they are saving room to drink, right? There’s lots of different situations that can happen here, but regardless it can alter our nutrient needs. Drinking can alter our nutrient needs and can change our eating patterns. It can alter our blood sugar levels. It can do lots of stuff. So these coping mechanisms a lot of times we know they aren’t healthy but we don’t actually understand the implications of engaging in these behaviors on a regular basis.

Haley: 

I want to talk about one last coping mechanism. So coping mechanism doesn’t have to just be substance abuse, disordered eating patterns, binge eating, things like that. It doesn’t have to be self-harm. It could also be sitting in front of the TV and binging Netflix. That can be a coping mechanism. And think about that If I’m sitting in front of the TV binging Netflix, I’m probably not going out and going for a walk. I’m probably not engaging in exercise. I might be eating junk food or mindlessly eating in front of the TV. So all of these different health behaviors can have implications. It doesn’t have to be one of the TV. So all of these different health behaviors can have implications. It doesn’t have to be one of the most commonly talked about ones, like substance abuse, self-harm Just recognize it can come in many forms and many, many, many, many situations can end up as coping mechanisms. Okay, so let’s do a little recap. We talked about people pleasing and fawning and how this can happen Like why does this show up in our lives? And we also talked about how it shows up in our health behaviors. So that could be neglecting our self-care routines and suppressing personal needs, overextending emotional labor, compromising our dietary choices, neglecting medical attention and our mental health needs and engaging in harmful coping mechanisms.

Haley: 

You are absolutely not alone if you recognize that any of these things that we’ve talked about today regarding the people-pleasing and fawning behaviors resonates with you either now or in the past. Changing the narrative around in my life for 10 years oh, my gosh, it’s crazy. It’s crazy. I cannot even believe how different of a person I am. And it’s normal also if we still see like sneaky ways that people-pleasing is coming up.

Haley: 

So maybe you’re in a situation like me where you’ve worked on a lot of this people-pleasing behavior. You’ve overcome a lot of it. It’s not something that shows up in your life on a regular basis, but you might still see some sneaky people-pleasing behaviors popping into your life, especially if you’re stressed, especially if and when you get stressed out. That’s when these default things turn back on and maybe they turn on in a different way. Maybe it’s more subtle and not as overt, but it can still happen and from experience in my life, it really helps to have support. It helps me tremendously to have support and I know, based on the people that I’ve helped my clients, it is incredibly helpful to have support when you go through this. You don’t have to go through it alone.

Haley: 

So recognizing and addressing our people-pleasing and fawning behaviors is so important for regaining that balance in our life and to prioritize our well-being. We have to start recognizing these behaviors and patterns and old stories and things that are coming up for us so that we can change the narrative. We have to recognize it first. We have to have that awareness, and so, with cultivating that awareness, either through coaching, therapy whatever method you prefer or cultivating the self-awareness, we can then set healthier boundaries, we can embrace self-compassion, we can break free from these patterns and make conscious choices that absolutely nurture our physical, emotional and mental health, so that we can live deliciously fulfilled lives. Again, I’m not here to live a half-assed life. I’m just not, and I know you aren’t either. So, again, if you are interested, I have an upcoming free class and we’re going to be talking about the framework that can help take you from struggling to thriving and living your most fulfilled life.

Haley: 

Again. Pop into the show notes, sign up for the Unforked email list and you will be notified when this class comes out, and I absolutely cannot wait to see you there. I hope you have an incredible day. Please send me any reflections. I’d love to hear how this resonated with you. I’m always open to hear any questions you have, and if you do have a question, that question might just be answered on a future episode of our Unforked podcast here. So please send them in. I cannot wait to hear from you. Have an incredible day. I’m so grateful for you, my friend.

Friend, thank you for listening to Unforked. If you enjoyed the episode, we’d love it if you’d send it to a friend and rate and review the show on either Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Then email us a screenshot of your review to howdy@thefulfilledfork.com for a one-time credit to use towards our wellness services. Chat soon.

 


 

Ready to Take Your Life Back? Join us for Holistic Wellness Support to Reclaim Your Health & Wholeness
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    Credits
    Thank you to Chelsea @ladyfolk for cocreating the Unforked podcast/newsletter name and helping me bring The Fulfilled Fork voice to life
    &
    thank you to YOU, the listener, for being here on this journey together.

     

    With a full heart (but always room for a slice of pizza),

    Haley Schroth, RDN, LD, CPT, RYT, CMWC | Founder & Integrative Mental Health Coach

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    P.S. Have a question you’d like Haley to answer in a future Unforked episode?
    Submit your (concise) question here.

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