“As with any addiction, in the long run, being an energy manager, people pleaser, or approval addict is costing you your own energy, your own joy. You do not have to keep feeding this addiction. And once you stop, you get your life back.”

Episode 189

4 Lies Energy Managers, People Pleasers, and Approval Addicts Tell Themselves

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Hello, Gorgeous Soul.

By now, if you’ve been with me for a few months, you are well aware of the people I refer to as “energy managers.” An energy manager is someone whose people-pleasing habit has gone next-level and become an addiction. What do I mean by “addiction”? Well. Whenever I talk about ditching the habits of people pleasing and energy managing – and unlearning the perfectionist mindset and not hustling to for validation or approval – everyone loves the idea. “Oh, yeah, totally! Of course, my worthiness is inherent. Of course, it’s a birthright. Of course, I don’t want to be saying yes to things I really don’t want to do or spending my whole life preventing or putting out other people’s fires. Of course, I totally get why I would want to stop doing this, why it sounds so damn good on paper. But…”

The but is always followed by this next line: “Let’s be real, Kristen.”

I have a few clients who LOVE to use that line: “I hear you, and yes, in an ideal world, sure it would be amazing to kick my habit of people-pleasing and energy managing. But let’s be real, Kristen.”

Which makes me laugh because it implies that they think their version of the real world is the right one. They sincerely believe that their habits of people pleasing, perfectionism, or energy managing are actually controlling the people and the world around them.

So, their thoughts go something like this: Everyone likes me because I do everything. I know what people are thinking. I silently control people’s thoughts and opinions simply by how I show up. And if I stop doing this, here’s what’s going to happen:

  • I’m going to lose my friends and probably a bunch of my family.
  • I will lose my marriage.
  • My kids will suffer.
  • I will be less successful in my career. I’ve gotten where I’ve gotten because I’m so good at controlling people’s thoughts about me.

And mostly? They feel that the world will stop spinning. Because if your whole world, your job, and all the people in your life are dependent on you managing all the things, if you stop, the world stops spinning. Right?

No.

It’s not true.

Today we’re going to debunk the fears you have around kicking the habits of people pleasing and energy managing. We’re going to disprove the myths you are believing around getting energy-managing sober.

To be clear, I say “sober” because these behaviors are basically addictions. Your brain loves the dopamine hits that come with external validation and other people’s approval.

And, as with any addiction, in the long run, it’s costing you your energy and your joy.

So, let’s dive into the 4 lies you’re probably telling yourself if you’re an energy manager.

“If I stop managing people’s energy, then I will lose people.”

This shows up in different ways.

Maybe you are the one everyone goes to when they need something…emotionally, mentally, logistically, whatever. You have created lots of relationships where people need you, and if you stop being everything for everyone, they won’t need you anymore because that’s all you bring to the friendship.

Maybe your worthiness is highly dependent on other people’s opinions of you. Maybe you believe that as long as everyone is happy with you, has the story of how you are always there for them and if you stop doing that, they will leave you, replace you.

Maybe you think if you stop managing your partner’s moods and feelings, your relationship will be unbearable. Maybe you think all the work you’re doing to prevent your partner from being grumpy or upset so that you don’t have to be grumpy or upset. But, aren’t you kind of grumpy and upset??

In your attempts to get someone else to feel better, you become depleted from all the work.

So. Here’s what actually happens when you stop.

You develop healthy relationships. Relationships built on respect and love. Relationships dependent on you people pleasing or energy managing are unbalanced and never ending.

What I mean by never ending is if your worthiness is dependent on other people’s opinions of you or needing you, you will never be able to stop hustling for your worth.

In my own personal experience, I have lost relationships so it’s not a total myth, I suppose. There are people who were friends in the past, who aren’t friends now because when I stepped out of my energy managing role, they didn’t like it.

But the relationships I kept? Those are the people who want me to be happy. Those are the people who loved me in the way I deserve to be loved…when I started setting boundaries with people, the ones who stayed were the ones who were not dependent on me managing their emotions.

The thing is, everyone in your life is benefiting from you being a people pleaser right now, but not everyone expects it from you. Not everyone is in a relationship with you only because you do everything. There are people who genuinely love and care about you and there are people who aren’t interested in a a relationship where you aren’t managing their emotions.

It’s good to know who is who.

My circle is definitely smaller now. And it’s quality not quantity.

It’s also so much easier to know who I want to create space for in my life. When I meet new people and I’m not setting the precedent of being a people pleaser right off the bat, it’s easy for me to see who I will invest time in.

I remember a few years ago, there was a family that we were getting to know and it became very clear that there was a certain way the woman needed me to be. A certain way she needed me to think about her. And I just opted out. She didn’t like it but it was such an act of self care because I’m just not interested in managing other people. I’m looking for people who I can love for who they are and they can love ME for who I am.

It’s important in marriage, too! I’m going to devote an entire episode to what happened in my marriage when I stopped energy managing but here’s what I’ll say for today: I simply decided that I wasn’t interested in having a lifelong relationship with someone who I needed to emotionally manage all the time. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life walking on eggshells.

So, I stopped. I did give him some warning; I told him one day in the shower I was “un-marrying” him — which, because I didn’t have the words yet, probably sounded like, “We’re not married starting now.” But what it actually meant was, “I’m going to stop trying to control your thoughts and feelings to work for MY benefit”

In other words, I told Dave that I wasn’t going to energy manage him anymore. I didn’t know what that was going to mean. I didn’t know if that meant we would get divorced or what.

But it felt right. And it made me wonder, was he interested in ME if I wasn’t making sure all his needs were met at the expense of mine?

 Turns out, YES.

Is it perfect? No. Do I still energy manage? Sometimes. But our relationship is healthy now, thanks to this one decision and course of inspired action. (Neurodiverse marriages can be uniquely tricky with co-dependencies and mistaken spousal roles…and in our own neurodiverse marriage, breaking this energy-managing pattern absolutely worked, because we worked on it, and still do.)

I want to say in full transparency, sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes when you start setting boundaries and not walking on eggshells to protect your partner from things or people or situations they don’t like, they will not need you anymore and will not be interested in doing their own work.

But it’s worth knowing. It’s worth knowing so that you can make an informed decision of how to take care of yourself.

Here are some other myths.

“My kids need me to manage their energy for them, because they are helpless, and if I don’t show up as their energy manager, it’s essentially the same as starving them.”

Again, it’s bullshit. This comes from the myth that the only way the people around us should feel is good. Happy. Relaxed.

When you are energy managing your kids, you are stunting their emotional intelligence. You are perpetuating your energy managing mindset…that they aren’t responsible for their own feelings. That someone else is making them feel. Whether it’s you, their friends, or the world.

They will either look for friendships or relationships where they can be the energy manager or where they will be managed. Either way? Not even a little healthy.

The only way to break the cycle is for you to stop. Teach your kids to be resilient. Teach them they are responsible for their own feelings and that no feelings are bad.

When you become the energy manager of your kids, you are stunting their emotional intelligence.”

“My life day-to-day is just easier when I’m everyone’s energy manager.”

People addicted to energy-managing believe that it’s somehow just easier to shoulder the burden of everyone else’s emotional regulation. On top of that, they believe that someday they won’t need to people please anymore because all their people will have learned how to manage themselves – and that they are simply the bridge that gets them there.

It’s the opposite, actually.

It is 1000% leading to burnout.

People pleasing behaviors may create relief in the moment, someone who’s upset might feel better in the moment but it’s always a short term solution.

Because people become dependent on you.

It’s like if you are the one who puts out everyone’s fires, both fires that are actually happening and fires you are predicting could happen, there is no end.

Your brain will always be preparing for the next one.

And who is tending to your fire? No-one! Your fire becomes a raging inferno and you burn out.

“I feel better when I’m crushing it as a people-pleaser.”

False, my love. The root of people pleasing is the thought that if a person is feeling calm then you can feel calm. If a person is fine, then you can be fine.

But are you, long term?

Energy managing might provide quick hits of fine, but long term, look at all the time and energy WASTED on thinking and behaving as an energy-managing thinking. You are spending more time feeling not fine, than feeling fine.

When you quit the energy manager role, you reverse that.

So, there you have it. Four bullshit excuses for not kicking your people pleasing, energy managing habits, debunked. There is nothing to cling to, no reason to keep feeding your addiction.

So, come join my new program lovingly named, Calm the Fuck Down. If you are burned-out from people pleasing, energy managing, overthinking, and perfection-chasing — if you feel like an empty shell — join us. We are zooming way in — going way deep — on the one skill you have to master in order to get your life back: emotional resilience. If you don’t want your life to be run by fear or doubt or worry or anxiety anymore, then this is the class for you.

If you sign up by May 15th, you’ll get a 1:1 with me. 20 minutes, where we can shoot the shit, you can pick my brain, you can ask me anything. And, you can use that 20-minute 1:1 at any time during the program. Which I will love, but of course you don’t HAFTA talk to me 1:1 if that’s not your jam. I won’t take it personally — which is yet ANOTHER thing you’ll learn in Calm the Fuck Down, how to stop taking things personally.

Love you so much! Xoxo

– Kristen

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