How to Escape People Pleasing
One of my readers asked for some more tips on how to to stop being a people pleaser, a personality type I described in another post.
If you are in the habit of saying “Yes” to others as a way of getting their approval, and also because it makes you feel important and needed, then you know by now there are certain drawbacks to being a serial people-pleaser:
People will use and abuse you because you’re an easy target.
You feel unhappy and frustrated because you neglect to take care of your needs.
You are emotionally exhausted a lot of the time.
You live with a constant fear of rejection.
Here are four tips on how to break the cycle of people-pleasing. Try using them as often as you can; you owe it to yourself.
Become Aware of the Habit
This is the first important step – and should be ongoing. Every time the desire to say “yes” or do something simply to please someone arises, become aware of it. You cannot change something if you are ignorant about it, and neglect to observe how it influences your life. There is a lot more to ending the people-pleasing habit than simple awareness, but it starts with becoming increasingly conscious of this pattern in your life.
Accept that it’s your Choice
You have to get to the point where you realise, with utter clarity and conviction, that you do have a choice to say “no.” On a piece of paper or note card, write down in big bold letters: “I have a choice!” and put it up in your house where you can see it everyday. Say the words aloud to yourself everyday – with conviction. Think about what it means, and reflect on what your needs are. You might want to try using the phrase “I will think about it” and really take that time to consider your motivation.
Stop Apologising and don’t be Scared
Catch yourself apologising or wanting to apologise. When you begin to politely refuse requests from others, they might try to make you feel guilty, and blame you for being unsupportive, or selfish. If you know why you refuse a request, then do not apologise for saying “no.” Simply acknowledge their feelings and move on. Often, you will agree to do things for others because you fear the negative repercussions of saying “no.” However, in most cases, the consequences are not as bad as you imagined them to be.
Seek Professional Help
You need to address your need for approval in a supportive environment with a psychologist or counsellor who empathises with your situation. Therapy is also a good place to start rehearsing saying “no” and working though the fears and insecurities that are likely to emerge. Therapists will help you notice things about yourself you don’t yet see, and make you aware of strengths you did not know existed or doubted. It’s not going to be easy trying to make a positive change for the better, but the challenge is going to be well worth your while.
Posted in Psychology | Tagged Dr Nicola Davies, Nicola Davies, People Pleaser, People Pleasing, Personality, Personality Styles, Personality Types | Leave a Comment »
Counselling – Making Collaborative
While the decision to make a referral is a critical one, it is often difficult. Then again, identifying clients that need intervention and conducting prompt referrals to appropriate agencies when needed is integral to the functions of a professional counsellor. In particular, it demonstrates that a counsellor knows their limits of proficiency and can act in the best interests of their client.
Singh (2007) cited that counsellors must heed the axiom, “do not try to take on everything yourself. Be aware when professional help is needed and what sorts of professional help are available” (p. 68). This is to say that recognising when help is needed from other professionals is not a sign of weakness, rather a necessity – even an ethical obligation. When a counsellor fails to refer in instances when they are out of their depth, there is an increased risk of emotional and physical detriment to the client.
Singh (2007) highlights five situations when a counsellor needs to refer:
When they uncover issues or concerns that are beyond their capacity (i.e. their limits of proficiency).
When they feel their personality and the clients are not compatible and is interfering with the counselling process.
When handling clients who are relatives or personal friends.
When the client is hesitant of sharing their issues with the counsellor for whatever reason.
When, after several counselling sessions, the counsellor feels that the relationship has not been effective or therapeutic.
I would like to add another situation that might require referral – when psychological contact cannot be made with the client for any particular reason. As an example, alcohol or drugs can be a barrier to making psychological contact, as I have found within my own counselling practice.
Making referrals is a serious decision with significant implications and thus needs to be considered carefully. Referral barriers include client reluctance, restrictions imposed by insurance companies, unavailability of counsellors in a specialist area, and an inability to make prompt referrals for personal or agency related reasons (Tallent, 2011).
Much like the entire counselling process, referral is ideally based on mutual trust and respect between the counsellor and client. Ultimately, counsellors can only offer alternatives to the client and trust in the client to make a decision that they feel is best for them. Whether the client accepts or refuses is beyond the scope of the counsellor’s functions. The counsellor’s role is to make clients more aware of the available alternatives, so that they can then choose to use their innate self-determination to pursue the best course of action for them.
Successful referral rests on the quality of the counsellor’s interaction with the client, and whether the counsellor has been able, with the client, to identify the client’s needs. It is then essential to refer sensitively since clients could see it as a form of rejection, an indication that they can’t be helped, or a betrayal of trust. I present clients with the options available to them and accept if they choose not to accept that referral. I also explain my rationale for making the suggestion so that they do not feel rejected and can understand my reasoning, while also empathising with their own rationale for not wishing to take up the referral. This can be challenging, but I trust in the process enough to know that the seeds have been planted and that the client now has information he can use when they are ready.
Singh, K. (2007). Counselling Skills for Managers. New Delhi: Prentice Hall India, Ltd.
Tallent, C. (2011). ‘The Referral Process: Rural Primary Care Physicians’ Perspectives on Providing Counseling Referrals’, Available at: <http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1117&context=cehsdiss> [Accessed 4th November 2013].
Posted in Counselling, Personal/Professional Development, Psychology, Uncategorized | Tagged BACP, Counselling, CPD, Dr Nicola Davies, Ethics, Healthcare, Mental Health, Nicola Davies, Person-centred, Person-Centred Counselling, Personal Development, Psychology, Referral, Trainee Counsellor | 2 Comments »
The ‘Mother Teresa’ Personality
I have been writing a personality column for Natural Health, where each month I provide some insight into different personalities. Here is some insight into The ‘Mother Teresa’ Personality.
The chances are that you know someone who is generally quiet and kind, but who might surprise you with strong, incisive, and persuasive ideas and opinions about issues they feel strongly about. These people are extraordinarily attuned to the needs of others, don’t seek confrontation or conflict, but aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in either. When you speak to them, they will surprise you with their rich thoughts and ideas, yet they’re not interested in status, power, or positions of authority. If you know such a person, you’ve met the ‘Mother Teresa’ or ISFJ (Introverted-Sensitive-Feeling-Judging) Personality. Other distinguishing characteristics include:
They are the ‘people’s person’ and will dedicate their lives to serving others who are in need.
They are passionate about what they believe in, and won’t shirk from rallying others to fight against social injustice.
They don’t get involved in causes for selfish reasons, but are driven by ideologies about what is right and just.
They regard it as their purpose in life to serve others, and will often rush to the scene of a tragedy or disaster to help.
They make the most consistently considerate, loyal, and sympathetic friends and colleagues.
If you’re in a fix, need help, or in the midst of some disastrous situation, you can rely on them for sincere, selfless support.
They will go all out to support others in need, without letting the world know about their efforts or expecting praise.
Although they tend to be idealistic, they’ll find pragmatic ways to reach their goals in personal life as well as at work.
Can there really be any negatives to the Mother Teresa personality? I’m afraid so.
Extreme types of Mother Teresa personalities find the give-and-take of ordinary friendships unsatisfying, and will rather part ways with those who don’t make them feel needed.
Sometimes they are mistaken as being outgoing and spontaneous because of their ability to communicate easily and form pleasant relationships with anybody.
Sometimes they have a hard time curbing their zeal and enthusiasm, which can alienate others and put undue stress on themselves.
Since they tend to be enthusiastic about tasks that are important to them, they can quickly deplete their inner strength, and will uncharacteristically withdraw from social life for some time.
How do I deal with a Mother Teresa Personality?
Mother Teresa personalities, though they generally have a rational approach to situations, don’t deal well with conflict. Sensitive and attuned to their own and other people’s emotions, they’d rather try and steer clear of offending others. However, if they can’t avoid conflict, then they’re likely to deal with it head on, which could cause them a great deal of stress.
They can be easily offended if you, as a friend or colleague, don’t acknowledge their support and sympathy. So, it’s good to reassure them every now and again to let them know that although you may not express your gratitude for their efforts openly, it doesn’t mean you don’t value their friendship.
Am I a Mother Teresa Personality?
You know you are a Mother Teresa personality if:
You have a way with words, and can easily establish friendly, warm relationships quickly with anyone.
People generally like talking to you, because you listen well, and are sensitive to their emotional and verbal cues.
You can recall personally meaningful events or conversations with great detail and clarity long after they’ve happened.
People’s lack of consideration for others bothers you tremendously.
You have to guard against overstretching yourself trying to rescue everyone.
Social status, high office, and being seen with high profile people doesn’t appeal to you; you will fight for a cause, and not for status.
What should I do if I am a Mother Teresa Personality?
Schedule some time alone for yourself at regular intervals, otherwise you will burn out.
Learn to come to terms with the fact that you cannot rescue everyone.
Don’t fret about the fact that issues like world hunger, poverty or social injustices won’t come to an end tomorrow; just focus on what you can do, and take it one step at a time.
Posted in Psychology | Tagged Dr Nicola Davies, Mother Teresa Personality, Nicola Davies, Personality, Personality Styles, Personality Types, Psychology | Leave a Comment »
Safeguarding Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults
This post investigates current legislation around safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults, and demonstrates the application of this legislation to my own counselling work.
I am currently being trained to work with children and young adults of 13-24 years of age. A huge part of this training has involved going through the agency’s Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy. This policy applies to clients up to the age of 18-years, who are classed as children in accordance with the Children Act 2004. The policy states that, “The welfare of children is paramount and overrides all other policies” and “All suspicions and allegations of abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, neglect) will be taken seriously and responded to appropriately.” As part of my practice I am required to make a record of any suspicions or concerns, consult with my allocated mentor and then, if deemed necessary, report to the Clinical Supervisor. This has to be done within 24-hours. I am not expected to contact another service myself, but by alerting the Clinical Supervisor he can then adhere to the duties cited in ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ (HM Government, 2006), including the duty to coordinate with other relevant agencies – be that the police or social services (Morley College, 2010).
While there is no legal requirement to report child abuse, ethically and morally there is an obligation to counsellors following the BACP Ethical Framework. I was surprised to learn that there isn’t a legal requirement and found it quite unsettling. Even if I was working independently rather than for an agency, I feel that any policies and procedures would need to be designed to support the reporting of child abuse or the abuse of vulnerable adults. My strong belief in this is based on personal experience of abuse and the fact no one picked up on my abuse despite a number of indicators that were ignored because they weren’t overt – weeks off school at a time, selective mutism, self-harm, etc. With this in mind, I wonder whether I might be over-sensitive to possible signs of abuse, whereas another counsellor might be more cautious about raising concerns. Both approaches could have a number of implications.
Policies for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults present practitioners with a clear understanding of their role and how they should respond if safeguarding issues arise (Cosgrove and Kara, 2012). The value of complying with such policy is evident with the spate of abuse cases reported in the news, including the case against Fort Augustus Abbey monks where 30 years of both physical and sexual abuse were uncovered. Dom Richard Yeo (Abbot President of English Benedictine Congregation) even claimed that “the Church keeps falling back on the safeguarding policy. What we are dealing with is the utter failure of safeguarding” (BBC, 2013). Unfortunately, I feel the policy continues to fail, hence the dreadful cases of Daniel Pelka and Baby P. While counsellors can’t turn this failure around, as a profession we can ensure the relevant policies are taken seriously and implemented stringently within our field of work. Knowledge of laws like the Children Act 1989 and the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (UK Government, 2013a,b) are invaluable in this respect and I will endeavor to make myself familiar with these.
BBC (2013). ‘Police probe Fort Augustus Abbey monk abuse claims’ BBC News Scotland. [Online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-23500499 [Last accessed 20/10/2013].
UK Government (2013b). Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 [Online] Available at < http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/47/contents [Last accessed 20/10/2013].
Posted in Counselling, Personal/Professional Development, Psychology | Tagged Abuse, BACP, Children, Counselling, CPD, Dr Nicola Davies, Ethics, Healthcare, Nicola Davies, Personal Development, Professional Development, Psychology, Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults, Trainee Counsellor | Leave a Comment »
Putting myself within the Ethical Framework for Good Practice in
I have been asked to put myself into the BACP ethical framework and to describe what it means for me. This raised a number of strong thoughts and feelings that I hadn’t realised were present. In my initial learning journal on this topic, I was very objective and fact-based, but being asked to expand on what the framework means for me has evoked the subjectivity that such an important topic warrants. By this, I mean that in order to fully grasp the value of following an ethical framework, there needs to be some emotion involved rather than just merely following some ‘rules’ that are laid out for counsellors.
For me, working within an ethical framework is fundamental if a trusting relationship is to be formed between client and counsellor. I can relate this to my own recent experience of unethical practice. A few weeks ago I went to a workshop related to a topic that was very personal to me, as part of my personal and professional development. Due to personal experience, I found it really difficult and for the purpose of self-care I had to leave when we had a break. Through contact with the tutor, however, some one-to-one training was arranged.
I came away from this training feeling ‘abused’ for a number of reasons, including a lack of clear boundaries, no role distinction, a power imbalance, and a lack of regard for my well-being. I felt that she knew something very personal about me and hadn’t ‘held’ it or respected it, but instead focused on her own needs – from requesting more money than was agreed, going over schedule, and self-disclosing to a degree that left me counselling her.
If it wasn’t for there being an ethical framework within the counselling arena, I would have no way of validating the negative feelings this encounter evoked in me. In turn, I would not have been equipped to be congruent by writing to this individual to highlight my concerns about her unethical practice. In this sense, an ethical framework not only protects the client, but it also empowers them – to take action if they are wronged by someone who should be adhering to the framework.
On another level, as a counsellor, I feel supported by the ethical framework in that it gives me a minimum set of standards to adhere to in my efforts to offer a safe and trusting environment to my clients. Without such a framework, I would feel less confident in what the minimum standard should be, which might not be productive to focusing on the client’s needs within the process.
Posted in Counselling, Personal/Professional Development, Psychology | Tagged Abuse, BACP, British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, Carl Rogers, Counselling, CPD, Dr Nicola Davies, Ethical Framework, Ethics, Nicola Davies, Person-centred, Person-Centred Counselling, Professional Development, Rogers, Trainee Counsellor | 3 Comments »
The Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling
The Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling (BACP, 2013) is the ethical code for counsellors, trainers, and supervisors within the counselling field. It is also applicable to counselling research, the use of counselling skills, and the management of counselling services within organisations and agencies. In other words, it has been developed to inform individual members of the BACP, as well as those providing counselling services. The framework provides a common platform for counsellors and other people working within the counselling field, although member associations are also expected to have ethical codes of their own.
Since there are huge disparities in how ethics are approached, the BACP framework has made every effort to reflect this ethical diversity by considering three key ethical domains:
Personal moral qualities
The importance of adhering to an ethical framework can be highlighted through an exploration of these three domains. Firstly, values ensure that clients feel comfortable and safe to express themselves. The fundamental values of counselling include respecting human rights and dignity, ensuring clients are safe, maintaining a professional counsellor-client relationship, and counsellor commitment to keeping up to date with the discipline via research and continued professional development. Further values include working with clients to alleviate suffering and distress, increasing clients’ personal effectiveness, and appreciating diversity in experience and culture.
Ethical principles place emphasis on ethical responsibilities, with counsellors being accountable for any decisions. Ethical principles include:
Fidelity (i.e. being trustworthy) – this is fundamental to understanding and resolving incongruence.
Autonomy – this principle emphasises the importance of respecting and developing the client’s ability to be self-directing.
Beneficence – acting in the best interests of the client, based on professional assessment and working within one’s limits of competence.
Non-maleficence – the responsibility to mitigate any harm to clients.
Justice - consideration of any legal requirements and obligations, and conflicts between legal and ethical obligations.
Self-respect – working towards self-awareness and taking care of the self. In other words, counsellors need to apply all of the above principles to themselves as well as their clients.
In terms of personal moral qualities, counsellors are encouraged to towards:
Empathy – being able to understand the clients experience from their frame of reference.
Sincerity – a personal commitment to consistency between what is done and what is professed.
Integrity - honest and coherent service provision.
Resilience – being capable of working with client concerns without being personally diminished.
Humility – accurate assessment and acknowledge of one’s own strengths and weaknesses.
Competence – effective deployment of the skills and knowledge needed to be an ethical counsellor.
Working within an ethical framework not only protects the client, but also the counsellor. It also enhances the interaction between the two by promoting transparency and thus helping create equality between the client and the counsellor. This is particularly important within person-centred theory, where the counsellor is not portrayed as the ‘expert’ but as someone who works with the client.
The ethics section of the ethical framework explains more about the client, while the moral section is more about the counsellor. Ethics are obligatory standards that clients deserve, while morals are processes that can be worked on and developed among counsellors.
Posted in Counselling, Psychology | Tagged BACP, British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, Counselling, CPD, Dr Nicola Davies, Ethical Framework, Ethics, Nicola Davies, Person-centred, Person-Centred Counselling, Professional Development, Psychology, Trainee Counsellor | 3 Comments »
How do I Deal with the Victim Personality?
Being close to anyone who has been a victim of a traumatic event can be an extremely challenging time. Finding the balance between being sympathetic and giving them the occasional push to help them along often feels like a fool’s errand, particularly if they begin to regularly play the victim.
The time could come when the relationship suffers to the point that you feel as though you have to cut ties with them to preserve your own sanity. Unfortunately though, this will only reinforce their feelings of victimisation, and the cycle continues.
It is worth bearing in mind, that someone who feels consistently victimised will often be unable to realise what he or she are doing. They will be so wrapped up in feeling as though the entire world is against them that their sense of reality will be slightly warped.
For friends and relatives, this can be as painful as it is frustrating – watching someone you care deeply about in this cycle of self-destruction. Yet there are things you can do to help them in an empathetic way, while also challenging them. Below are a few suggestions.
Rather than just thinking about how they feel after something has gone wrong, challenge them to think about what led up to the incident. What triggered the event, how did they influence the outcome and could they do anything in the future to prevent a repeat incident?
Reinforce positive aspects of the their personality. If they show a trait that they should be displaying more often then tell them – “I like it when you smile – it suits you.”
Encourage them to break the cycle of negativity by trying new experiences, particularly with you. Do everything you can to make these pursuits enjoyable and give them a positive experience that will leave them wanting more.
Listen when they are feeling low. Empathise with them rather than tell them to ‘snap out of it,’ but work with them to challenge their point of view in a positive way. In other words, steer them towards being solution-focused, not problem-focused.
Encourage them to find other ways of expressing their feelings of victimisation. Keeping a journal is a great way of allowing them to get their feelings out without impacting negatively on their relationships with others. Often, if they take time to read back what they’ve written they will find an entirely new perspective on their own.
There is no doubt about it – being around the Victim Personality can be draining. However, these people are like this for a reason – often because they genuinely were a victim. The trouble is that they now victimise themselves. With patience and empathy you can help these people see that there is another way – a way that empowers rather than restrains them.
Posted in Psychology | Tagged Dr Nicola Davies, Nicola Davies, Personality, Psychology, Victim Personality | Leave a Comment »
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