Clear Haven Therapy Resources & Blog

8 Tips to Stop Being a People-Pleaser

What is People Pleasing?

People-pleasing is when a person commits themselves to meeting the needs, opinions, or requirements of others, to the detriment of their well-being.

A people-pleaser will go to great lengths to please other people, even at the cost of their own needs; this could be due to the fear of rejection, abandonment, or the desire to avoid conflict, or another person’s disappointment.

A people-pleaser wants to feel loved, safe, and secure.

What Makes a Person a People-Pleaser?

There are a number of reasons a person becomes a people-pleaser;

People-pleasing can develop because of childhood trauma, it could be that to feel safe and avoid conflict within the home, the child learned to protect themselves by going out of their way to appease their parent or caregiver.

The devoted love and attention or harsh criticism experienced as a child can have a lasting influence on a person’s world perspective.

If people-pleasing is something that a person has done since childhood, it becomes the norm for them, and this is frequently carried through to adulthood causing a whole host of problems.

Similarly, societal expectations that people should be passive and compliant might lead people to please people, there is also a cultural and generational element to the belief that if you please others you are polite, considerate, and generally a good person.

Sharon Martin writes about an evolutionary component to people-pleasing. Our early ancestors were known to form tribes so they could pull resources, and help protect each other. The more a person had to offer within the tribe, the more they would be protected. If they were not accepted in the tribe or community the more likely they were to die of being attacked by a predator, or of starvation.

What are the Consequences of Being a People-Pleaser?

Trying to make other people happy may, for a short time, ease tensions in social interactions, however, people-pleasing often results in unhelpful outcomes. The following are some of the most significant problems that can occur because of people’s good intentions.

Suppressed Emotions
When you consistently put the needs of others ahead of your own, one of the unintended consequences is that you learn to suppress your own emotions.

Stopping your feelings and putting another person’s needs before your own can result in physical health problems such as digestive problems, headaches, and muscle pains. A person’s mental health has a direct link to their physical health.

Reduced Self-Worth
You can risk losing your sense of self when you are frequently influenced to accept things from another person’s perspective or adapt to suit another person’s preferences. A people-pleaser may find it difficult to construct long-lasting and deep relationships as they are not allowing the other person to get to know their authentic self.

People-pleasing can result in feelings of shame if a person behaves in a way that is not in alignment with their values, in order to please another person.

Exploitative Relationships
People who tend to be more passive or considerate can put themselves in harm’s way by allowing others to take advantage of their kindness or lack of boundaries. This may lead to a vicious circle of misunderstandings and hostility between the parties.

Stress and Burnout
Constantly putting the requirements of others ahead of your own may result in stress and burnout; both are detrimental to your mental and physical health and should be avoided at all costs.

The Connection between People-Pleasing and Resentment

You can become resentful if you try too hard to make others happy in various ways. People who routinely put the needs of others before their own could one day find that they struggle to articulate dissatisfaction or displeasure. It can be the case that a people-please can lose sight of what makes them happy.

We all want to see our friends and family happy, but when you continually sacrifice your own needs to do this, it won’t take long for you to feel resentment develop.

When individuals fail to meet the standards set by others, people pleasers often experience feelings of regret and humiliation. This can instigate critical self-talk and feelings of “not good enough”.

Breaking Free from People-Pleasing

1. Self-Reflection:
Reflect on what motivates your drive to attempt to improve the lives of others around you. The first step in implementing change is recognising and managing the factors that previously prevented you from progressing.

2. Boundaries:
The ability to set boundaries is an important life skill that we should all learn; it’s acceptable to put our needs above those of others, so don’t feel guilty about it!

3. Assertiveness:
Be assertive; let people know your needs, preferences, and goals. Through open and honest conversation, working on existing resentment or conflicts and strengthening relationships with others is possible. Learning how to be assertive will help you in your personal and professional life.

4. Mindfulness and Emotional Awareness:
One benefit of regular mindfulness practice is gaining a deeper understanding and tolerance of your feelings. Recognise that your feelings are genuine and deserving of being expressed. Journalling can help increase self-awareness and provide time to reflect.

5. Embrace Conversation:
Try to see differences of opinion not as something to be avoided but as an opportunity for personal development and improvement. Learning to engage in healthy debates may benefit the quality of your relationships and keep your mind active.

6. Seek Support:

Be proactive and get help by discussing your issues with family members or a professional counsellor. If you want to overcome your tendency to please others, having a solid support system may be one of the most important things you can do.

7. Self-Care
Self-care is scheduling time for fun and calming activities. If you take care of your physical and mental health, you could find that you can regulate your emotions better, get to know yourself and what you like and dislike, and get a clearer idea of what’s okay.

8. Self-Compassion
Treat yourself with kindness and compassion, acknowledging that you deserve love and respect.

Wrapping it all Up

Remember that the path away from people-pleasing tendencies requires patience and self-compassion. Learning to prioritise your needs and communicating your feelings in an uninhibited manner may lead to a stronger sense of inner calm and emotional resilience, particularly in the middle of conflict.

Giving up trying to please others is not the same as being selfish; instead, it is putting one’s health and happiness first and learning to value one’s perspective. Doing so allows you and others to develop more meaningful connections with one another and yourself.

If you would like to stop people-pleasing, but feel you need some support Clear Haven Therapy can help with this! Book a free Discovery Call.

The Importance of Therapy for Men: Exploring its Impact

Regardless of gender, anyone can be affected by mental health issues.

Regardless of gender, anyone can be affected by mental health issues. However, fewer men are still seeking therapy; let’s examine why this is the case.

It is a fact that men experience the same challenges as women, including anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and trauma. However, these issues can present differently for men. For example, depression may show as anger due to men tending to suppress emotions. Suppressed emotions contribute to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and stress.

Physical issues, such as headaches, digestive problems, and muscle tension, can also result from suppressed emotions.  A 2019 study concludes that concealing one’s emotions can hinder mental health, physical health and general well-being.

Case Study

I recently worked with a client who contacted me due to struggling with social anxiety and low self-esteem. We worked together for six weeks, and at the end of this time, the client left therapy knowing their worth which changed everything for them.

The client opted for an RTT hypnotherapy session; during regression, they returned to an incident that occurred at school when they were aged 8. They spoke about a time they could not answer a question in front of the class; they felt shamed and humiliated before their teacher and peers. The incident left the client feeling profoundly embarrassed and feeling like a failure. After the session, the client spoke about vaguely remembering the incident and feeling embarrassed whenever they thought about it. However, they did not recognise that what they experienced then deeply continued to influence how they felt about themselves today, which was that they were not good enough.

Working through the emotions associated with this experience and reframing outdated beliefs was life-transforming for this client.

Therapy for Men – The Statistics

It is not unusual for men to mask the symptoms of depression as they will take an “I just need to get on with it” approach. However, this can encourage unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking alcohol, substance misuse, pornography addiction, or gambling.

When these unhelpful coping strategies become “the problem”, men will recognise they need help, and at this point, their mental health may have declined significantly.

Statistics demonstrate that men’s mental health is something that requires more attention.

  •  The Office of National Statistics (ONS) 2021 states that 74% of death by suicide cases are men.
  •  In England and Wales, suicide is the most significant cause of death for men under 50.
  •  The Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) 2020,  men of all ages are likelier to become alcohol dependent than women.
  •  Men are more likely to be experiencing homelessness and be rough sleepers, and at the end of 2022, 96.2% of all prisoners were men.
  • NHS England’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) states that in 2019/20 it recorded 65% of women,   compared to 35% of men, were referred to psychological services.

These statistics highlight the need to change society’s perception of men seeking therapy.

Why Some Men Struggle to Seek Help: Understanding the Barriers of Therapy for Men

Let’s consider WHY some men find it difficult to seek therapy.

Societal Gender Norms
Society has thoughts about how men should be – “strong, self-reliant, assertive, powerful”. These expectations can make it more challenging for men to reach out for support and instead mask or suppress any symptoms that suggest they are not coping.

If a man has adopted unhealthy coping strategies, there may be guilt, shame, or self-disgust, making sharing this with another person even more difficult. However, reaching out for help is a sign of strength and courage, and in therapy, you can learn how to work through any shame attached to what is going on for you.

One significant roadblock that prevents men from seeking therapy is the stigma around mental health issues. As a society, we have the power to change this. It takes courage, but only when men talk about their mental health and talk about reaching out for therapy or other support will it become normalised. After all, you go to the gym to work on your physical health; working on your mental health is the same!

Fear of Vulnerability
What would it look like to reveal a side of yourself that isn’t always confident, courageous, and strong? Vulnerability is sharing your thoughts, emotions, feelings, and experiences with another person. It is like removing your armour and allowing another person to see your authentic self, your softer side. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable with those closest to you can deepen and strengthen relationships.

Finding a Therapist
The gender of a therapist is not important; you must find a therapist you feel safe and comfortable with. I work with many men in my therapy practice, and I recommend that you check if a therapist is comfortable working with male-related issues.

Let’s Now Discuss the Advantages of Therapy for Men

Therapy offers men a safe space to openly discuss their concerns and express themselves freely without fear of rejection.

In therapy, men can learn how to practice healthy coping strategies such as emotional regulation, meditation, grounding exercises, journalling, assertive communication, and implementing boundaries.

A therapist allows men the space to manage past issues that may impact their lives today.

Alternatively, some men prefer to focus on what is happening for them in the here and now rather than revisit past experiences. What you would like to gain from therapy is something you can talk through during a discovery call as you want to ensure that a therapist works in a way that you will find most helpful.

  • Being a Good Example

By going to therapy, you convey to others, including your friends and family, that taking care of your mental health is FINE.

Being open and honest about seeking help could inspire others to adopt your outlook and encourage the growth of a society where discussing emotions can be done more freely.

  • Strengthening Relationships

Effectively managing emotions can help build healthy and fulfilling relationships.

People tend to have closer relationships with their loved ones, members of their families, and close friends when they are aware of their own emotions and can empathise with others.

  • Improves Job Performance

The workplace is known to be a place that can be challenging when one is already struggling with their mental health. Therapy can help reduce work-related stress and anxiety, improve job performance, and it can help with enhancing communication and teamwork skills.

When To Seek Therapy

If you have any of the following symptoms, it may be a good idea to consider therapy:

  • Been more easily irritated than usual.
  • Experienced bursts of anger or aggression.
  • Felt sad or down.
  • Felt overwhelmed or under much pressure.
  • Unexpectedly gained or lost weight.
  • Started drinking or using drugs more frequently than before.
  • Been relying on alcohol or drugs to cope with a challenging situation.
  • Lost interest in activities you used to enjoy.
  • Struggled to concentrate at work, school, or home.
  • Had more headaches or days of feeling generally unwell.
  • Sleeping too much or too little.
  • Felt tired even after a whole night’s sleep.

There’s no reason to feel ashamed of your symptoms; you’re never alone. Many men believe discussing their difficulties won’t help, but this is untrue. Book a free discovery call today.

Understanding and Managing Shame for Personal Growth

What is the True Meaning of Shame?

Shame can be a complex emotion to manage, as it is an intense and pervasive emotion that can make people feel fundamentally flawed. When people feel shame, they may believe they are inadequate, unworthy, or not good enough.

Shame is founded on self-judgment; if a person has insecurities, they may feel embarrassed or humiliated if these insecurities are highlighted or exposed. It can occur when a person feels they fall short of their own or others’ expectations or have a lingering sense of “Is someone judging me?”.

What is the Difference between Guilt and Shame?

Many people use guilt and shame interchangeably as they are similar but different emotions despite some overlaps. For instance, both are conscious emotions ignited by negative self-evaluation.

Shame is about having a negative sense of self, having low self-esteem, and believing you are, at the core, a terrible person. In contrast, guilt is feeling like you have done something wrong, made a bad decision, or made a mistake. Berne Brown describes shame as being based on self, “I am bad”, whereas guilt is based on behaviour “I did something bad”.

Many studies have examined the physical and emotional effects of guilt and shame. Research has demonstrated a link between shame-proneness and psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance misuse. The results have not revealed a common link between guilt-proneness and psychiatric problems.

Why did we Evolve to Feel Shame?

(Sznycer et al., 2016) tested the theory that shame evolved as a defence against being devalued by others. The finding concluded that across cultures, there is a link between shame and devaluation.

If we rewind the years, our early ancestors depended on being valued by others for survival. The community’s most valued members would get food, help to look after their children, and were more likely to be cared for and protected than their lesser-valued peers.

To be valued within the community, it was necessary to have attributes that would appeal to others, such as being strong, a dangerous enemy, a potential partner, and trustworthy. If it was discovered that you were, for example, diseased, physically weak, or untrustworthy, you would be devalued and more likely to come to harm.

Our ancestors worked hard to be valued within the community. This may have involved hiding disease or blaming others for their acts, but it was necessary for survival. Today, shame motivates us to conform to societal norms, to fit in, and to be liked and respected by others.

When is Shame Not Helpful?

Shame is not helpful when it becomes toxic. Toxic shame is when a person becomes overly self-critical, experiences self-disgust or demeans themselves in other ways. This can often be the result of childhood abuse, trauma or having parents or caregivers who were emotionally unavailable.

Toxic shame can be extremely difficult for a person to manage; if self-help techniques or confiding in a friend doesn’t ease the shame, it would be recommended to seek professional help.

What does Shame do to the Body?

When a person feels shame, it starts a complex chain of events that affects many bodily systems, physically and psychologically. Science supports the impact shame has on the body.

Here’s a breakdown of how shame impacts the body:

Emotional Response: It often leads to feelings of unworthiness and disappointment and can trigger a desire to escape or hide from others.

Stress Response: The body’s stress reaction, also known as the “fight or flight” response, is triggered by shame.

This includes the adrenal glands releasing stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline.

These hormones raise heart rate, blood pressure, and attentiveness to prepare the body to react to a threat.

Increased heart rate: The heart beats to pump blood to muscles and essential organs faster.
Elevated blood pressure: Blood vessels constrict, which increases blood pressure and improves oxygen delivery.
Rapid breathing: Breathing more quickly helps the body prepare for physical activity by oxygenating the blood.
Muscle tension: Muscles tighten in preparation for potential movement or defence.
Dilated pupils: The pupils enlarge to allow more light and improve visual focus.
Sweating: The body sweats to help regulate temperature during heightened activity.
Digestive changes: Blood flow may decrease to the digestive system, leading to digestive discomfort or a “butterflies in the stomach” feeling.

Impact on the Immune System: Over time, prolonged or severe shame may weaken the immune system, increasing the body’s vulnerability to disease.

Cognitive Changes: The impacts of shame on cognitive processes include ruminating thoughts and making bad decisions. The ability to concentrate and focus may also be troublesome.

Neurological Impact: According to neuroimaging research shame causes the brain’s negative emotions, self-perception, and social evaluation regions to become active. Some of these regions are the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and insula.

The effects of shame can differ from person to person and may depend on elements like personal coping methods, resilience, and social support.

How Can I Manage Shame?

Here are some practical ways to make you feel better about yourself and effectively manage shame.

Talk About It
A conversation with a relative or close friend you trust can make all the difference. Sharing your thoughts can make you feel better and open your eyes to new lights.

You never know when the person you trust will come up with a brilliant idea, offer an ear of understanding, or be there for you. You feel less alone and more understood since it’s like having a friend by your side.

Challenge any Negative Thoughts
Shame often brings along negative and critical thoughts about yourself. It’s important to challenge these thoughts.

Ask yourself if they are based on facts or if you’re being too hard on yourself. Try to reframe these thoughts in a more balanced and realistic way.

For example, if you’re thinking, “I’m a complete failure,” try changing it to “I am brave enough to make changes; my setback makes me stronger.”

Be Kind to Yourself
Here’s a little tip: You can be your own best friend. Imagine how you would talk to your best friend when they are going through a tough time – that’s how you should treat yourself, too. Show yourself the same kindness and compassion that you would show your friend. We all mess up and have tough days, and it’s part of being human.

So, try not to be too harsh on yourself while feeling low.

Say, “Hey, it’s okay; I’m only human,” and go on. Allow these feelings to come up without judging them as good or bad.

You deserve kindness and a helping hand, especially when things are tough. Give yourself a warm hug from within, or you can go all out and give yourself a big bear hug!

Learn and Grow
Yes, even mistakes can serve as your hidden weapon for getting better. Shame can help us define our boundaries and act within social norms. This is when shame can be healthy!

Think for a bit about what you can do differently the next time. How can you make the most of this scenario for yourself?

Switching your focus like this opens the door to growth and feeling strong. So, let’s kick that shame aside and stride forward!

Mindfulness and Breathing
So, pause and take some slow, deep breaths when shame starts showing up. Practice square breathing to help calm your central nervous system and distract you from your thoughts. Just a 10-minute practice can help tame your feelings of shame.

Positive Self-Talk
Pay attention to how you talk to yourself. If you are critical, switch those negative thoughts to positive and encouraging ones.

It’s essential to remind yourself often of your successes, the good things about you, and times when you overcame challenging situations.

You can better control those “shame” feelings by creating a positive inner conversation.

When using positive self-talk, tell yourself:

“My mistakes don’t define my worth; what matters is how I grow and learn from them.”

“I, especially myself, deserve kindness and understanding.”

“I have faith in my ability to thrive in the face of hardship.”

“I deserve respect and love, most importantly from myself.”

If you use this practice, you’ll be better able to manage such stressful situations. Your resilience and sense of self-worth grow as an outcome.

Wrapping it all up

Accept positive thinking, develop self-confidence, and practise mindfulness.

Turn around negative situations and take lessons from mistakes. You deserve compassion, respect, love, and progress.

Let go of the grip of shame and walk proudly in your worth. Your journey towards strength and self-love begins today. If you feel you need professional help book a free discovery call today.

Top 10 Benefits of Daily Journalling

How Journalling Can Be The Ultimate Source of Self Care

When you were a teenager, chances are you had a diary. Kept hidden under your pillow, your diary was your catch-all for fears, worries, changes, and plans.

As we grow older, many of us stop journalling. One day we set our pen down for the last time, only to spend our adult lives stuffing our thoughts deep within us. Research has proven that journalling has enormous benefits for mental health.

There is no “right way” to journal. Journalling as an adult means releasing your thoughts and emotions onto paper. That’s it! You can let your pen flow while you write down whatever comes into your mind, draw pictures to express yourself, write down positive affirmations or list three things you have been grateful for on that particular day. Whatever works for you!

So, how can writing your ideas and feelings onto paper help you? We’ve created a list of the top 10 benefits journalling can have for your mental health and well-being.

1. Detoxes Your Mind

Many of us roll out of bed in the morning and immediately are bombarded with emails to check, kids to get to school, breakfast to make, and schedules to remember. With all this chaos, our emotions often get pushed to the wayside.

Journalling can help you detox your mind to think clearer and release any pent-up frustrations, stressors, confusion, or anxiety.

Journalling has been called a “mental windshield wiper”. It allows you to get out of your head and never think about those thoughts again.

2. Helps You Achieve Goals

When you journal about future goals, you’re creating an intentional mindset shift. Writing out and organising what you want in life can make it much easier to create a plan. Goal journalling can help you recognise the daily actions hindering you from making your dream life.

By laying out a roadmap for your goals through journalling, you’re less likely to give in to immediate satisfaction, knowing the delayed gratification is coming. In addition, journalling can keep you on track and focused, allowing you to crush your goals faster and without distraction.

3. Spot Negative Thoughts

Through journalling, we can go back and read through past entries to spot any recurring negative thoughts. By identifying our negative thinking patterns, we can consciously change them.

Our negative thinking patterns can run a constant loop in the background of our brains, so addressing them can be a crucial step in becoming more positive and hopeful for the future.

4. Can Help Identify Triggers

Journalling is a powerful tool when it comes to self-realisation. If you constantly find yourself in emotional turmoil, you may need to help understand precisely where it comes from. When you journal, you can identify any triggers in your daily life that negatively impact your mental health and then create a plan to change them.

For example, through writing, you may realise your mornings consistently end in stress and chaos. While you may have chalked this up to you “not being a morning person”, through journalling, you can spot ways to simplify your morning routine and create a happier start to your day.

5. Helps With Anxiety

For those struggling with anxiety, their brain is a never-ending worry machine. It’s widespread for someone with an anxiety disorder to dwell on anxious thoughts (‘ruminate’). It can be incredibly emotionally draining. When we journal, we rest our brains and allow the paper to soak up our worries, fears, and concerns.

Once our worries are out, we can look for alternatives to the problem. Often, when we get our anxious thoughts out, we realise how minimal they are.

Researchers have found that creative writing helps many psychological and physical symptoms.

6. Helps With Depression

When it comes to depression, journalling can look a bit different. Research has shown that someone with depression may benefit more from deeper-level journalling than recording daily life. An easy way to incorporate this is through gratitude journals.

By writing down a few things you’re thankful for daily, you can rewire your brain’s neural pathways and re-train your negative thoughts into more positive ones. In addition, journalling for depression is an effective way to spot triggers that may make your depression worse.

7. Increases Self Awareness

Whenever you do anything without being fully or wholly present, you’re operating through your subconscious. Think of your subconscious as your autopilot. You may see this on your drive to work. You’re breaking at stop signs and using your blinkers to make a turn. However, your mind may be on your fight with your partner the night before. Once you become more aware, you’ll realise how often you’re in this state.

Journalling allows us to be fully present with ourselves and our thoughts. This time spent with your thoughts may be the only time you let your conscience take over all day. This time spent in the present is a powerful state to be in for emotional healing.

8. Helps You Make Better Decisions

By increasing our self-awareness through journalling, we empower ourselves to make better decisions. Every time we journal, we remind ourselves that our choices today affect our future tomorrow. We can see this clearly as we go back and read through our past entries. You’re much more likely to make healthier decisions when conscious of your choices.

9. Allows Us To Reflect

While there is still some debate about this statement, some mental health professionals have argued that reading past writings is more beneficial than writing. We glimpse back in time when we read through our old entries. Quite literally isn’t possible any other way.

Journalling gives us a unique view of our old selves and allows us to see how we’ve grown, changed and healed over time. In addition, past journal entries can serve as a potent reminder not to return to old situations or relationships.

10. Gives Us Clarity

When our thoughts and emotions are constantly swirling around, we can unlikely think 100%. When we journal, we are writing down what matters to us the most. We prioritise our main worries, fears, goals, or emotions when we take the time to journal about them. This time helps give clarity on which issues at hand are most pressing to resolve or overcome. When we write our problems out onto paper, we may find we have had the answer to our questions within us all along.

All In All…

Journalling is a free, influential tool to empower growth and enable you to become more in tune with yourself and your feelings. As our world operates at a fast pace day in and day out, give yourself the gift of peace through journalling. It may be the only time you can sit with your thoughts all day and cultivate a life you’re excited to wake up to.

While journalling should be a daily practice, in time, you will find that it becomes easier and easier to prioritise as the benefits become crystal clear.

Self-help techniques such as journalling can significantly help your mental health. However, if you feel you would like more support, you can reach out for professional help by contacting Clear Haven Therapy for a free discovery call.

Schedule Your Free Discovery Call

The free 20 minute discovery call provides an opportunity for us to connect, understand your unique situation, and determine the most effective approach to support your well-being.