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Overcome disordered eating and find peace with food
6 ways to stop worrying about what other people think of you
by Harriet Frew on June 29th, 2016

In the past, I spent a huge part of my life worrying about what others thought of me. So much did I value being liked and fitting in, putting others at ease rather than taking care of myself, being the person that always said ‘yes’ and helped out, that I was prepared to discard my own thoughts, feelings and opinions. I probably didn’t even feel that I could trust or justify these anyway, so used I was to ignoring them.
If I came up against a life decision, I would instantly speak to several close friends in succession to get their advice on what I should do. When you ask for help, people are usually generous with their advice and want to dispense it. On hearing their feedback, I would then feel torn by the difference in varying opinions, worried about pleasing each of them and also confused about what to do next. What a nightmare!
I had good reasons to have become a people pleaser. Growing up, I learned early that being the ‘good girl’ brought reward and acceptance from others.  It also meant avoiding confrontation, judgement and criticism. Part of me also enjoyed taking on this role. It was safe. People didn’t get to know the real me. I felt approved of and liked, and I felt I could fit in anywhere – I knew how to twist myself to fit any situation if needed.
However, you can also see the tremendous cost. Although outwardly smiling and cooperative, who was I? Was I just simply a reflection of the world around me? Inwardly I would feel angry and resentful that I was putting others first, and then also guilty for feeling this, so I would never express it. Of course, this was impossible to hide. It often leaked out in a sudden outburst of anger or through behaviour such as cutting contact. It cost me relationships as others were confused, thinking all was fine, and then suddenly realising it was not.
As we all are, I am still a work in progress, but here are my 6 strategies that have helped me to stop people pleasing and to finally become myself: -
1. Only you know in your heart what is best for you. Other people can support and advise you and this can be valuable. You can listen to advice and take on board what sits with you, and you can also reject the parts which are not relevant for you. Ultimately though, you can make your own decisions. 

2. To listen to yourself, you need to have time away from people so you can learn to tune into your thoughts and feelings. If you don’t know how you feel about something, give yourself space to make a decision. You don’t have to decide there and then. 

3. Spend time getting to know you. What do you like doing? What lifts your energy and makes you feel joyful? It doesn’t matter if this is different from people close to you.  You are completely unique. 

4. You cannot please everyone all of the time. It is okay to say no. You do not have to feel guilty about taking care of yourself. In fact, when you look after yourself first, you can make an active choice to be generous and kind to the people you care about. 

5. Put the blinkers on to comparisons. If you constantly evaluate yourself in relation to those around you or on social media, you are likely to criticise yourself and notice where you feel that you fall short. It also stops you appreciating the many qualities that you have. 

6. Creative a positives diary. Practice gratitude. Everyday remember to appreciate the little things that you do have. Notice daily the things that have gone well and the little victories you have achieved. 
Finding true self-acceptance and letting go of the fear of not being liked is an ongoing journey. It is well worth taking the risk to find out who you are. This is when you can tap into your happiness and joy! If you are really struggling to do this on your own, this could be the time to think about having counselling.

Posted in Change, Confidence, Counselling, Emotions, Happiness, Identity, Motivation and change, Recovery, Self-care, Self-esteem, self-help, Thoughts, Values, People pleasing    Tagged with people pleasing, self-care, self-love, self-esteem, being authentic, saying no, assertiveness, caring what others think, Eating Disorder, confidence


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Find peace with food and overcome disordered eating.