Still not sure if you are a people pleaser or just extremely kind to others? Feel exhausted from trying to make everyone happy? Then this episode is for you!
I am thrilled to be joined by Elizabeth Martin-Chan – a Disruptor, Podcaster, and Guide.
She helps humans climb out of The People Pleasing Rabbit Hole so they can know their needs and desires; lovingly embrace their gifts, passions, and dreams, while confidently standing in their innate worth.
Elizabeth is on a mission to subvert self-hate culture and reclaim intuitive wisdom. She is your accomplice in disrupting status quos so you can reclaim self-acceptance and Fearlessly Thrive in your authentic innate worth.
You can find more information about Elizabeth Martin-Chan here:
Podcast: No People Pleasing Zone
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I know you, you’re afraid to speak up. You’re scared of what other people think of you. And you blame yourself for what happened to you. I know how it feels, because I’ve been there. If you found me, I’m so grateful you’re here. This podcast will give you hope. And I’m your host in America Nova. And I’m going to hold your hand and provide the guidance. It’s time for you to find your why. And turn your experience into your biggest power. This is your time now. So lock your door, put your headphones in, and enjoy.Anna Maydonova:
Elizabeth Marsan Chan, welcome to world’s best Trauma Recovery podcast.Elizabeth Martin-Chan:
Thank you. I’m so excited to be here.Anna Maydonova:
I’m excited to have you. You are such an amazing and wonderful and inspiring woman. And this is such a pleasure to have you on my podcast. Elizabeth, I would love to start with some challenging question for you. Okay, how do I understand or realize that I’m a people pleaser?Elizabeth Martin-Chan:
So I think that the biggest clue as to whether you’re a people pleaser is how you feel about the things that you’re doing in the world. Does it resonate with who you think you are? Or is it all about the external? Because sometimes we get so wrapped up in what we fit in nurturing other people and nurturing the needs and wants and what we believe are the desires of other people that we forget ourselves. And when you get really far down what I call the people pleasing rabbit hole, you don’t even know what it is that you want.Anna Maydonova:
It resonates with me so much because I was in a in the same position. Just recently, a few years ago. For me, the most scariest thing was I was worrying what people were thinking about me. I was caring what, like people will judge me for my mistakes. I was terrified to make a mistake. And I seriously thought that I will never enjoy my life, I will never do things what I love, because I have to be there for people. I have to do what others want from me. I have to literally guess what people want to hear or what they want what they need from me. And it was constant pressure. Yeah, I didn’t. I didn’t really have a time for myself. And when did you realize that people pleasing became a huge problem for you.Elizabeth Martin-Chan:
So I actually was living my life thinking I had a pretty good life, I have a number of children, I had the privilege to be in a relationship that allowed me to stay at home and be with my children. And really, you know, nurture that next generation. And as my third child was heading off to university, I began to have this I can only describe it as like this vibration in my body. And it felt like I was bouncing off of the walls. Almost like a ping pong ball. You know, going from one side to the other end having no idea where I was going to land next. Like it just was this internal vibration. very disconcerting. And a good friend of mine asked me do you love yourself? And I have to tell you, that was a mind blowing and world alternating alternating question. because I had no idea that I was allowed to love myself. And that single question shifted everything for me. And that was about eight, nine years ago. And ever since then I’ve been on this journey of how do you actually love yourself. And I don’t believe until we, until I figured out how to love myself. I can’t be I can’t be an honest, truthful relationship with others. And so other relationships shift as I learn what it means to love myself. And and it really goes back even to the the Christian creed of Love your neighbor as yourself. Well, I heard growing up all about loving my neighbor. I don’t think I ever heard what it means to love yourself. So I’ve really flipped that on its head. And I’m in the pursuit of what does it mean to love myself. And then I can love others.Anna Maydonova:
Lots of people think Self Love is a selfish, which I think is a huge mistake. Because you’re right, you can’t love your neighbor, until you are full of love to yourself. If you don’t have love in yourself, you have nothing to share. But when you nurture yourself, when you look after yourself, you start radiating this love, and everything else starts changing around you. And how, how does your relationship with your husband and your kids change? When you finally started started to love yourself?Elizabeth Martin-Chan:
It becomes more open and honest. I think that I do actually think that I was very open as a mother to my children. I didn’t. It was one thing that somehow instinctively I knew, even before I realized I needed to love myself, that the freedom maybe I recognized unconsciously that I didn’t have a freedom have to be who I was. I gave my children that freedom. That was part of I have this, this desire for the dignity of others, honoring the dignity of others. With which we also need to learn how to honor the dignity of the ourselves. So that’s become stronger, I think. And yeah, there are a lot of holes still in my relationship with my husband, because I need to learn. As I learned how to love myself, that concept of intimacy just gets it gets more refined, and I have a deeper understanding of it. So that shift is a constant. It’s a constant evolution. It’s a journey. It is a journey. Yeah,Anna Maydonova:
I agree with you and you need some time. And I love how you shifted your perspective about about dignity for your kids. Because what I’ve noticed and what I’ve learned that no, not many parents, understand that people pleasing behavior comes from childhood. When we are as a human beings, we love to be in the community. And when your kids do something wrong, we what we do we exclude them, from ourselves from the family from my, from the community in the school in the kindergarten. Well, I’m saying excluded means put them in a corner or stop talking to them or being upset with them. And the child develops this needs to please you just so he can be with you. In the question to you, Elizabeth, will you as a child, always listening and worrying what people think of you? When did it start for you?Elizabeth Martin-Chan:
It probably started the day I was born. I am a highly sensitive. So those antennas were already out I think the day I was born and I was born into a family that had that was not harmonious. And my parents split when I was six. And all of the I think we’re recognizing more and more all that there is trauma in divorce for children. My parents were split in the early 70s, which was really before the divorce wave that came in the late 70s and early 80s. So there weren’t other children that I knew that were going through this, there wasn’t a recognition, I think there was a recognition that people just survive. I mean, you know, my kids that my parents came out of, they were born in the early 40s. So it was just, I come from the state. So actually, both of them were born before the Americans entered the war. So they’re actually pre war babies with parents who had been, you know, adults coming into adulthood or in adulthood, during the 30s. So this concept of survival was far more part of their tapestry. So the concept of like, that’s help our children with some therapy wasn’t even there. And I think, collectively, we haven’t, really, I think we’ve come to a place where we understand that children need that kind of support. But I didn’t come from that time. And I think both my parents did the best they could, but they have limitations. And I had to figure out how to survive. I do agree with you about, I think it’s written in our DNA that we need to be in community. And when we banish, when we feel banished, we try to figure out what is it that I need to do so that I’m accepted by the community. And that’s the I mean, that’s the root of people pleasing is it’s not be we lose the ability to step in and be centered in who we are, trusting that the community needs, who we are. And instead, we think we have to put on these masks, and be what we think they need us to be. So yeah, my antenna have been most of my life like, what, what is it that people need me to be? You know, what do I have to do? And it’s, I think, it’s not just parents, it’s a whole culture. It’s a culture that says, you know, creatives aren’t really what we value, we value people who have good marks in school, and who can do certain types of skills. And, and so we get streamlined, so those of us who are more sensitive and creative and don’t necessarily instinctively tap into the sort of the way, this capitalist society that’s rooted in in a patriarchy mindset. We don’t know where we fit in, because we haven’t been taught that we’re accepted that way. So instead, we we put on that mask. And you know, my masks can look different depending on who I’m with. My mask with my mother was very different than my mask of my father. We lived on different economic strata. You know, that was just our reality. So when I went to see my dad, it was a different economic strata, it was a different mask.Anna Maydonova:
So interesting. So my parents also divorced when I was four years old. My father left and never returned. And I saw him maybe four times after that. And this feeling of abandonment,Elizabeth Martin-Chan:
yes. WasAnna Maydonova:
a no I had this fear of abandonment. Until I grown up and figure this out for myself. Why do I feel like why do I feel so attached to people? Why do I have to please someone so they can stay? That was that was a harsh realization, to be honest. And how was your relationship with your father developing after divorce?Elizabeth Martin-Chan:
So my father left the marriage, but there was a divorce agreement that we had to spend time with him. So there was designated time. One of the benefits to my mother of divorcing in the early 70s Was that she had the freedom to move. So she was able to without my father, you know, being asked if that was okay. So we, she moved to pursue her studies. So I didn’t see him every other weekend, which was the part of the agreement. But I did see him every other holiday and six weeks in the summer. So we had this back and forth. And, you know, my father really behaved as though those were our designated times. He didn’t like nothing. Nothing special that happened in my life. In my, you know, went like when I graduated from grade eight, my father wasn’t there, when, you know, he didn’t come for those special other things. But we went and visited him. And I will say he didn’t know how to sort of treat that time is special, or at least I didn’t feel like he knew how to do that. He was like, he wanted it to appear that everything was just normal. Like we were always there. So suddenly, we were there. And he still went off to work, which was, I mean, yes, he, there’s an economic reality on that. But he didn’t make space in his life to say, Oh, it’s so nice to have you here. You know, this is a special time. It was as though he was trying to create normality. But it wasn’t normal. Like, I mean, I guess it was our normal, but suddenly being there and sitting down to dinner with my father. That wasn’t my normal through the rest of my life. So, you know, it’s a it’s a very surface relationship. We’ve continued to have a relationship, but it is. It’s very surfacey. And there’s no deep dive into emotions or curiosity about who I am. AndAnna Maydonova:
how are you processing? How did you process emotionally? This? Neglecting? I want to say neglecting from your father.Elizabeth Martin-Chan:
Yeah, I mean, I think I also was in an abandonment, but I didn’t recognize it as that it’s only in hindsight that I realized that the little kid in me thought I was abandoned. Emotionally, I shut down. Right, I shut there, we hide the things that are our most precious parts of who we are. That’s one of the reasons it’s hard. It is hard as it is, I love shadow work, because it’s unfolding parts of ourselves that we’ve kept hidden. And I, I think of it as a treasure chest, like the most precious parts of me, are down in the shadows. And one of those was my capacity to be vulnerable. And my capacity to to feel on an emotional and a physical level I’m, I’m a person who very is very body based. I’m, I think of myself as essential being I need in my, when I am authentically me, I need that. I need this, I need the bare feet. I need the you know the pleasure of eating I need, I need the sounds of the forest. And to survive, I shut a lot of that down. Because it was just too painful. So I put it in my treasure chest.Anna Maydonova:
It is innate with you so much. I’ve recently reconnected with my biological father, after I opened up about my past about my story. And so I my mom told him and when I went to Russia to testify against my stepfather. I decided to meet with my father, but bear in mind, even after he found out he didn’t call me. She didn’t check up on me, which was really interesting. I said, Okay, well, I used to live without you. Not a big deal. And but I I decided to make this a first step. And before I went to Russia, I called him. And I said, Look, I’m calling you’re not like a daughter. I’m calling you as a friend. And I just wanted to let you know, I forgive you. I honestly forgive you for leaving me, and for not being there when I needed to most. There was a one minute silence. I just, I think this is the first time someone actually told him something really nice. And he said, he said, I am so sorry. And I love you so much the water. For the very first time, Elizabeth, he called me his daughter. And when I saw him in Russia, it was a bit weird, because there wasn’t much connection as a daughter and father role. So he jumped in the into the mode of judgment, like, Why didn’t you tell me? Like, you haven’t been there? I don’t know you, we have no connection. You are stranger for me. So and it’s actually set my pass on, you know what, I’m going to be my own parent. And I did a really wonderful, I had a really wonderful experience. When, during the meditation, I went back to my 10 years old inner, when, when I first time got so scared of my stepfather. And I, I sat down and I know she, she could see me, and I sat down with your NSF. And I love you so much. I will always be by your side, you will be happy, you will be successful, you will be a confident woman. But just Just be yourself. Just be yourself. Oh my goodness, who want an experience? And I just what I’m trying to say here. I guess not many people want to face their past. I guess not many people have this courage and strength to go there. And and look at your deepest, darkest. And I know how painful it is. I’ve been running from it for 20 years. And I know it didn’t work for me at all. I’m Elizabeth.Elizabeth Martin-Chan:
If I may, I think there comes a point in many people’s lives, where they just know they can’t do it anymore. Mm hmm. You know, they may not know. I mean, I didn’t even know what it was that I couldn’t do anymore. But that went through my head, I just can’t do it anymore. And that in combination with this, this question about loving myself. I realized that he had to shift that perspective. And I agree a lot of people don’t want to, they don’t want to look backwards. But they also don’t know how to shift their perspective so that they can live in today and move forward. And until they you know until they hit that point, whatever it is for them. They’re going to keep on running away hiding their best parts of themselves. And I don’t I’m not judging it because it’s about survival. And survival is written into our DNA. It’s just for some of us we reach that point where this isn’t working.Anna Maydonova:
And I really love how open and authentic you are in your no people pleasing zone podcast. I couldn’t stop listening honestly. And if you I was saying that, as in check this out here, I would highly, highly recommend to check this podcast out. There is so much valuable information, just value value value. I’ve recognized myself a lot in your podcasts. And I’m so grateful you started it because there are still so many women who are struggling with. With this feeling some I need to do something, but I don’t know. And I know you talking about this in your podcast? Could you share some tips how to stop pleasing?Elizabeth Martin-Chan:
Well, let me talk about shifting perspectives which may or may not come out as a tip. I talk about being stuck in something that I call the people pleasing rabbit hole. I want to take the responsibility away from the individual. I think as somebody is beginning to realize that there are people pleaser, there’s a lot of shame and self judgment. But each of us were born into this world perfect with this beautiful, perfect essence. And we came into being a human. And living the human experience means that our essence isn’t honored. That’s just that is the reality of being human. And the people pleasing rabbit Hall is a place. It’s a culture that a lot of people I think can resonate with elements of it, no matter where you are in the world. Too many cultures are, are based in hierarchies of power. And that power dynamic, makes feet makes people feel less than and feeds the behavior of people pleasing. So what I’m trying to do in the know, people pleasing zone, and thank you for calling out by podcast is get raw and vulnerable. And talk about the realities of being down this hole of being in this culture that doesn’t honor who you are. And encourage people to start standing in the center of who they are. And know that that essence is what the world needs. And it’s a process I’m not saying it’s like a light switch by any stretch of the imagination. But the goal of the podcast is to just get real about the shit we live in. And, and be bold enough to grab hold of who you are. Because you’re worthy. It’s soAnna Maydonova:
wonderful Elizabeth. And I love how you share one example in your podcast about if you’re a people pleaser, and you organize Edina, you’re hosting an event at your house. And what I would usually do, I would start cleaning my house a day before I would start cooking doing shopping. I will be stressing about what people will eat when they’re like this. And then I will try to please everyone. And then by the time by the time the event comes on, it’s hosted i and pause during the event. I couldn’t see it on one spot. Honestly, I was running around pouring to everyone’s glass water, champagne wine, cleaning the serviettes washing dishes, you know I was like a survey and I wasn’t enjoying the moment. I I love having people in my house. But by the end I was just exhausted. What would you and your example was really wonderful. Would you like to tell us more about what is the first step and for for people who are hosting if but don’t want to please people anymore. I put you on the spot. Yeah, I’m tryingElizabeth Martin-Chan:
to remember what story you’re talking about. But I’m going to tell a story about claiming Christmas dinner one year. Hmm. So we are often because we have a large family, multiple children and partners. And a large home, we often are the place where gatherings happen. And as I was coming into this recognition, I was probably about it was probably the second Christmas after I started started to become aware of I’ve been running around doing all this stuff for other people. And yes, your description of hosting is so so spot on for me. And a particular particularly concerned about my mother in law, and you know whether I was perfect enough for her son. One year, I decided I’m not doing Christmas, the way everyone expects me to do Christmas. I decided I have Spanish heritage. It’s it’s way back. And I don’t really know anything about my Spanish heritage. But I was getting curious about who I am. So I learned about I researched, what does, what do the Spaniards do for Christmas. And I really based my Home Menu and my husband got in on this as well, we based our menu on what a traditional Christmas eve dinner would look like. And I decided I wasn’t going to give a shit if it was good enough for anyone else. And I did what I wanted to do. And actually people enjoyed it. It was different, but they enjoyed it. What doAnna Maydonova:
you say to people? How did you organize it in the way that everyone could enjoyElizabeth Martin-Chan:
just said, You know what, we’re having a traditional Spanish Christmas eve dinner, and left it at that I just made the decision that this is what I want to do. This is my home, this is what I want to do. I’m exploring something. And if they don’t enjoy it, that’s on them. You know, learning to not be responsible for the feelings of another person is so key. Like, what? That’s their responsibility. This is my responsibility. I’m responsible for my feelings, nobody else’s. And that’s, that’s a really, really hard lesson for people pleaser for somebody who’s stuck in the people pleasing rabbit hole to recognize. But piece by piece by piece. It’s a reclaiming. It’s a re membrane, it’s a putting back together. Right? It’s remembering this the opposite of dismembering. When we remember we’re putting things back together. We’re putting parts of ourselves back together. And it might just be a little thing like, this is where I like to put the soap in the shower. And you know what, this is where it’s gonna go. That’s a claiming that’s a claiming of me, standing and who I am. It’s a little thing. And sometimes that’s all we have the capacity to do. But as you do those little things, it becomes bigger and bigger. And then you can throw that dinner that you don’t give a shit if somebody likes it. This is what you want to do. You’re hosting the dinner. I’ve invited people in. And I’m giving them an experience. And it’s an experience based on what I want to give them.Anna Maydonova:
The end of the day, it’s more about communication and spending quality time together and enjoying each other. Yeah, it’s not only about food. i Yes,Elizabeth Martin-Chan:
yeah. I love about being and community. Mm hmm.Anna Maydonova:
For me, now, when I think of it, people pleasing came from more as a protection mechanism. Because I knew if I wouldn’t place my stepfather I would probably risk my life and the life of my mother and my brother. And that was a really, really strong feeling for me. Took me years to realize, hey, I’m in a safe place right now. Elizabeth, do you have advice for people who went through trauma and people pleasing is literally protection mechanism to survive. Yeah, do you have any advice for those people?Elizabeth Martin-Chan:
So it is it is a protection mechanism. It’s a taking on of responsibility for the safety of yourself and others. The interesting thing about trauma is that it can be big, like your experience, or it can be an accumulation of small things. And one of the things we’re, we’re only recently really beginning to understand, scientifically is that trauma accumulates. And there’s, I wish I knew where I had read this study. But there’s beginning to be evidence by scanning the brain, that people who have gone through small trauma accumulating through their lives. This is more in the racial study, field. But I think it’s, it can be translated into everyone who’s gone through these small micro micro aggressions, or micro traumas, that what they’re seeing in the brain is the same thing that they see, for people who have gone through a identifiable single or, you know, extensive trauma, which means that a lot more of us are walking around with trauma in our bodies, than we previously recognized. So yeah, it’s recognizing that we’ve gone through experiences that are traumatic, and that we hold that in our body. And that we need to, we need to figure out how to feel safe. And in art, DNA written in our DNA is that instinct of, I have to be safe. So I have to do what I need to do to stay in the community, because being banished means certain death for our ancient ancestors. And that’s what’s written in our DNA. We don’t think that our bodies react that way. So we do things that we think on some level, and sometimes that’s something we’ve developed as a three year old, a four year old, a seven year old. We think a particular way of doing something keeps us safe. So we can get to a point in ourself, knowing when situations come up, that we can ask ourselves, Is my life really threatened in this situation? And that’s hard to do. Because we have to get to a point where we get where we’re living more in the moment. So we can take those pauses and say, and I mean, it’s a process, right? Like, I don’t think I’m ever going to get it. There’s no such thing as perfection in this process. But being able to pause for a moment and ask ourselves, when we start to feel that anxiety or that rush around, I mean, there’s certain clues that we can begin to know about ourselves. When we’re falling into protection mechanisms. We can start to say, wait a minute, is my life in threatened right now? Like, that’s the first thing if we’re life is not threatened, then we can begin to move into choices.Anna Maydonova:
And then we can make the choice. Am I willing to do this right now? Or is there something different I want to do right now?Elizabeth Martin-Chan:
Make choices about how you want things to play out. And that’s about being present in the moment. And looking to the future. It’s not about getting caught up. I mean, there’s great value in going back and looking at your trauma experiences. And that can be done with a therapist or through your own self help but the value and what I like to work with people is present moment and future and present moment. What’s safe right now. It’s getting to know yourself. It’s getting to love yourself. Yes,Anna Maydonova:
yes. Elizabeth way people can find youElizabeth Martin-Chan:
So my podcast, the no people pleasing zone is will give you an opportunity to hear a little bit about the way I think and the way I approach the new people pleasing. You know, the people pleasing rabbit hole, the the best place is I’ve got I’m in the midst of creating community right now. So I’m not there yet. But yes, if you go to the show notes of the note of the know, people pleasing zone, I’ll be able you’ll be able to locate where community exists. And I’m very excited that I’m putting together a toolbox for listeners, so that it will give people an opportunity to connect with me. And I do one on one coaching right now. And we have a community building. So that’s where things are right now on theAnna Maydonova:
poll, and we also post all the links below as well for this podcast. Elizabeth, do you have any concluding thoughts?Elizabeth Martin-Chan:
I want all of your listeners to remember that they are worthy. They are enough. And they are everything the world needs right now, just the way they are.Anna Maydonova:
Ladies and gentlemen, Elizabeth Martin Chen.Elizabeth Martin-Chan:
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