People-pleasing leaves us so focused on those around us that we avoid our own experience. We push away feelings like anger and succumb to self-criticism. Enter Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT).
EFT is oriented around the idea that our feelings are our truths. Feelings can provide us with important information about what we need. When we avoid our feelings, we miss this important, life-enrichinginformation. EFT helps us reconnect to our feelings to better meet our needs.
Of course, we often come to therapy to get relief from very painful emotions that don't seem to give us any helpful information. For instance, “people-pleasers” tend to struggle with an excess of guilt and shame that does not fit reality.
From an EFT perspective, we have to arrive at our feelings before we can leave them (Les Greenberg, EFT developer). When we allow ourselves to feel painful feelings in therapy, they become accessible for transformation.
Transformative techniques in EFT consist of using other, more helpful feelings to change unhelpful feelings. An example of this is connecting with assertive anger to shift unhelpful shame.
To learn more about EFT, watch this film created by psychologist Anne Hilde Vassbo Hagen and the Norwegian Institute of Emotion Focused Therapy.
Relational Psychotherapy for People-Pleasing
People-pleasing is usually born in early relationships. Historically, the only way for you to get your needs for connection met was to be overly accommodating, a trend that often continues into current relationships. Your healing therefore requires the context of a new relationship that centres your experience.
Although the therapy relationship is a specific one, I view it as a real relationship. I aim to bring my own True Self to the therapy session while centring your experience and self-expression.
Relatedly, although I have process expertise, you remain the expert of your own experience. From the beginning of therapy, I invite you to bravely disclose to me when you feel I have gotten something wrong. If I feel I have, I will self-correct and tune back in to what you are actually experiencing. Occassionally, I will openly name my error and invite your response. I believe this process contributes to healing via undoing your tendency to avoid holding others accountable and instead make them as comfortable as possible. In other words, you don't have to please me! (And, when you inevitably try to, we can work with that!)
We can create a new relationship for your healing, one that includes my acknowledgement and repair, when necessary. One that makes ample room for you, your True Self, and your feelings. This in turn gives you a template for transforming your relationships with yourself and other people to better meet your needs.