People-pleasing and Infidelity with Sara Fisk, Part 1 | Ep #133

Do you struggle with people-pleasing? Is it getting in the way of making clear decisions for yourself in the after-math of infidelity?

In this 2-part series, Andrea and Sara Fisk talk all things people-pleasing. You will learn:

  • How we are all deeply wired to people-please
  • How it is likely affecting you post-infidelity to people-please
  • How taking responsibility for our own growth (and letting go of people-pleasing) is crucial to healing

Sara Bybee Fisk is a Master Certified Coach and Instructor who teaches women how to tame the rampant people-pleasing, perfectionism and codependency that is causing them so much frustration and resentment. She is an anxious optimist and born again feminist who listens to more books than she actually sits down to read. She loves a good hike, good dark chocolate and good conversations. Her big dreams include learning to sail and to sing and dance like JLo and helping thousands of women create the big, juicy lives they want to be living. She is a wife and mom of 5 and she enjoys those roles most of the time. To learn more about Sara, go to https://www.sarafisk.coach/.

To learn more from Andrea, be sure to join her email list at: https://andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/

To learn more about working with Andrea, go to: https://andreagiles.com/get-your-life-back/

Follow Andrea on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/theinfidelitycoach/

Episode Transcript

Andrea:

I’m Andrea Giles and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast
episode number 133: People-Pleasing and Infidelity with Sara Fisk, Part 1.

Hello and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast, where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become
the boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves
ever. If you know there’s more for you than the life you’re currently
living but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place.
Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks
off. Is it possible? It is, and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host,
Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.

Andrea:

Hey everybody. In just a minute here, we’re going to jump into the podcast
episode with Sara Fisk, part 1 of 2. You will find the first part is going
to be more about laying the groundwork of what people pleasing is, where it
comes from, how we all are inclined to do it. We’re going to be sharing
some stories, our own stories, getting to know more about each other.
You’re going to learn about Sara and what led her to her career of teaching,
coaching, people-pleasing all the time. You’re going to love her. I have
covered people-pleasing in the past, but not this way and not this
powerfully, and so I hope that you stick around for both episodes. The
second one is going to be more geared specifically towards infidelity, so
stick around. The first lays the groundwork for the second.

Before I dive in, I want to just share that on January 26th, I am hosting a
webinar about how to get your life back after infidelity. If you have not
been to this class, it’s a powerful, powerful class that will give you some
guidance as to where you are now and really understanding where you are and
then what needs to happen for you to be able to move forward. So I invite
you to register. The link is in the show notes. Go ahead and register. You
can also find the link on my website. And without further ado, here is part
number 1.

Andrea:

Hello everybody. Welcome to the latest episode. Today we’re having a
conversation, myself and Sara Fisk. We’re both going to be sharing with you
on our own platforms. We have been chatting lately about getting together
and doing some work together for clients. I am having her come talk to my
alumni group. My alumni, they’re the people who have already gone through
my Get Your Life Back after Infidelity, Formally No, and 90 program. They
then go into my alumni group. And I sometimes bring in guests when I see a
real need that a guest is better than me at teaching.

Sara Fisk is… She’s come in here and introduce herself, but I’ve been
following her for a while. She is all about overcoming people pleasing. I
will say the more that I have worked in my field around infidelity, the
more I see that this often goes hand in hand and it’s hard to get away
from. It’s hard to not have people pleasing be a part of your life. And so
we’re going to have a conversation about this today. First, I will introduce
myself. And then Sara, you dive in and introduce yourself, okay? Do you want
to say hi first?

Sara:

Hello. I’m so excited to be here. This is going to be a lot of fun.

Andrea:

Yes, we talked already before hitting record and we have a lot to talk
about for sure. So buckle in. We got lots to talk about.

My name is Andrea Giles. I’ve been a coach for five years now, and I’ve
always been in the infidelity space. It’s all I’ve done. I have a lot of
personal experience in this that I have worked through and navigated. And I
knew even when I was in the thick of it, I knew that I needed to get to the
other side and do the training and schooling and things that I needed to do
to be able to help other fellow travelers dealing with infidelity. I know
how hard it was for me to navigate, how painful the decisions were that I
made. And I now have been able to help lots of women navigate the same
space. I also work with some men and some couples, but most of the work
that I do is with women who have been betrayed by their spouse and are
really trying to navigate it and figure out their life. So that’s my space.
Sara, why don’t you tell us about you and what you do?

Sara:

I am a master certified coach and I actually started out as a weight loss
coach because it was just a fun way to try to make myself lose weight.

Andrea:

I love it. That’s awesome. That’s awesome.

Sara:

Once I realized that’s like, “Oh, this is really just to try a new way to
force myself to do something that I think I ‘should do,’ like, ‘Do I want
to lose weight?’ I was like, ‘No, I actually don’t’.”

I came to people pleasing because I went through a master coach training
program that absolutely crippled me in terms of looking outside of myself,
“Do you think I’m a master coach? What do you think of me? Do you like me?
Am I doing this well?” And it just brought up all of my people pleasing and
put it front and center. And so that’s when I decided this is what I want
to do. It’s the conversation I could have every day for the rest of my
life. I just love helping women eliminate the kind of people pleasing that
keeps them stuck, that keeps them spinning their wheels, spending a lot of
time and energy and effort trying to placate and pretend and pretzel
themselves into what they think everybody else wants them to be and to
regain and recoup that time and energy and do something else with it,
whatever they want.

Andrea:

Ugh, so amazing. Okay. Can I ask you off the bat? Could you share a little
bit more about your own journey around people pleasing? First of all, I
love hearing the master coach situation, right? Nothing like putting us in
those situations to go, “Oh my gosh, I did not even know this was here,”
right? These moments to see what’s under the surface in us, it sounds like
that kind of brought it out for you. So tell us more about your journey.
Tell us more about your own discovery in your people pleasing journey.

Sara:

This I think is relevant. Until I became a coach about five years ago, same
as you, I was not working outside the home. I grew up in a what’s called a
high demand religion with pretty strictly defined gender roles. You and I
have talked a little bit about that. And so I was home with kids and I was
even taking it a step further and that we were homeschooling. And so I was
with my kids and other people’s kids all day long. I noticed in my
interactions with other women that I kind of always had this nagging like,
“Do they like me? Am I a part of this? Am I accepted? Do I belong?” And
that I was really reticent to express any views that I thought they
wouldn’t like.

I tend to be much more liberal. And on a scale of liberal in my high demand
religion group, I was considered liberal, and I was like, “Guys, you don’t
even know what liberal is if you think I’m liberal.” But I did have some
views, political views or social views that kind of fell outside of what
the acceptable was, and I didn’t share that a lot. There were election
cycles when people were getting excited about candidates, and I was like,
“I think that candidate is terrible.” And I didn’t feel like I could share
really things that were near and dear to my heart and soul and who I
believed I wanted to be in the world.

I didn’t realize I had been kind of pretending that way my whole life, just
editing the parts of myself that I didn’t feel like would be accepted and
belong. And that kind of math, like, “What can I share? What can I add?
What should I subtract to equal belonging?”, I think we just grow up that
way and we’re not aware of how often we trade behavior for belonging. It
was just all around me. It was the way I grew up. I didn’t really have
anyone who challenged that. In fact, what I saw were other people doing that
too. And so I was like, “Oh, I guess this is just what we’re all doing.”
We’re all kind of hiding, we’re all kind of placating and we’re all kind of
performing for other people because that’s just what we do.

And enter life coach training and master coach training and I felt naked. I
felt like everyone could see every part of my pretending and my performing,
and they were just all watching me like, “What are you doing?” I remember
in this particular program, you had to have a project, and my first project
that I presented, I literally did it because I was like, “What would they
like? What would they like to see from me? What would please them? What
would convince them that I am master coach material?” And I presented the
project, I did it for a little while. It failed spectacularly. I wish I
could bring all of you in and just let you watch the Zoom meeting where I’m
there with all of my peers with the two directors of this program, and one
of them looks at me and she just says, “Sara, what? What is happening right
now?” They could just tell that I was this performing monkey.

And I don’t say that with any derision really for myself because it’s what
I was doing. I was like… Swallowing the sword and juggling and like, “Do
you like it? Do you like it? Do you like it?” And when she said that, she’s
like, “What is happening? What’s going on?” I wish the earth could open up
and just swallow me a whole and save me from the intensity of that moment,
because it felt like all eyes in the world were on me. But it was actually
the gift that forced me to answer that question, “What’s going on?” Well,
what’s going on is I don’t have a very strong sense of who I am and myself,
and so I’m just trying to give you what I think you want. That’s what’s
happening.

Once that was clear to me, I just thought, “If I do nothing else, I want to
address this.”

Andrea:

Oh my goodness. So profound. And so painful too, right?

Sara:

It’s so painful. So painful. It’s so painful.

Andrea:

Oh man. Oh, you’re making me kind of jog back in time a little bit in my
own journey, if you don’t mind me sharing a little bit.

Sara:

Oh, please. I would love to hear it, yes.

Andrea:

Part of my story is that I was married for 16 years and there was a lot of
pressure to stay married, you make it work. In my situation, there was
deception throughout my marriage. It was ongoing. And I didn’t know about
it at the beginning, but it went on for a long time and was… Anyway, at
the end, it was so brutal because I knew that people would judge me, and I
hated it so much. I hated it because I always was the nice… Like the name
of your podcast, Sara’s podcast, I love the name. It’s the Ex-Good Girl
Podcast. And I was the good girl. I was the good girl. I was student body
president and the one that was voted most inspirational, the feel good hype
girl. And to divorce somebody and to say no and to…

Just a little bit of the background there, I was also a stay-at-home mom.
We had six children. He was a successful lawyer for Google. He worked for
Google. We lived in the Bay Area.

Sara:

Oh, wow.

Andrea:

He was very successful at his job. Like, who do you think you are walking
away from that? And what are you going to do, right? It was quite an
exercise in going back again and again and again to my own truth when I did
have criticism, where I did have people saying some harsh things at times
and judging me and being pretty harsh, right? Part of my situation is that
seven months after the divorce finalized, he was driving recklessly and got
in a car accident and he died. And he was 39 years old. I was alone with my
six children who in one year lost their parents to divorce and then lost
their dad to death.

All along the way, there was some criticism about how I should be handling
it. A lot of amazing support too. A lot of amazing support. But
fast-forward, I met and dated for two years and got married to a widower
whose wife, by all accounts, was just this lovely service-oriented, lovely,
lovely woman. I picked up my children and moved to a town with 1,200 people
where everyone knew her. Her parents were right there in the community. It
was brutal. It was brutal.

And at first kind of that… Oh my heart just… When you’re talking about
that moment where being the song and the dance, I can see that I was so
much wanting to take care of these children who lost their mother. I took
on five more children. So we had 11 kids. When we got married, 10 children
living at home, and wanting to really fill this void and be enough. And
man, Sara, it was painful, so painful. So, so painful because I felt like I
could never measure up. And honestly, really in the last few years, it’s
been a real wake up call to me. I can’t keep doing this. It’s killing me.
It’s suffocating me. I don’t want to feel like I need to be somebody else
to belong, right?

Sara:

Yeah.

Andrea:

And so it’s been this journey. Part of it has been becoming a coach. When I
found the coaching and things like that, it was so much more helpful to me
than the vast amounts of therapy that I’ve done before. Anyway, gosh, it
can sure have a strangle hold on you, right? The people pleasing tendencies
can sure have a tight grip and can be… I remember just moments of going,
“But if I am who I really am here, will he want me? Will his kids like me?
Will people in this community like me?” So painful.

Anyway, it’s been really my work to be me and to discover that in me and
then to let myself be seen. And the amazing thing, Sara, is that the more
that I risk letting myself be seen, my marriage is not even recognizable to
what it was at the beginning in the best way possible. I know he’s married
to me because I’m Andrea and because of our relationship that has nothing
to do with her, right? But it sure is scary, that process to really let
yourself be seen and go, “But they might not like it,” right?

Sara:

It is. And I would like to actually delve into why that is so hard, because
it is. Every bit as hard as you say it is. I think that as women who are
smart, who are intelligent, reasonable, magnificent creatures, we look at
this people pleasing part of our personalities, and we’re like, “What? Why
is that so hard?” I have women who tell me like, “I’m a grown ass woman.
Why can’t I speak up for something that I think I want? Or why can’t I
share my opinion?” And this is why.

I love having this kind of explanation in your back pocket because it does
not make sense up here in your head. Because up here in your head, you are
an adult with a fully formed prefrontal cortex that helps you make complex
decisions and anticipate consequences. It’s a marvel of very logical
processing ability. But people pleasing starts way before that’s developed.
It starts when we are little and when we need big people to take care of
us. We literally cannot survive without convincing the big people around us
to take care of us. And they do that because most of the time they like us
or they love us. And so babies, if you see a baby… You obviously have had
lots of experience, so have I. If a baby smiles, what do all the adults
instantly start doing?

Andrea:

Smiling. “Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh.”

Sara:

“She’s so cute. She’s so cute.” And then the baby’s brain picks up like,
“Oh, they like that.” And then the baby will smile back. And it’s this
beautifully reciprocal event where baby smiles bigger and mom and dad or
grandparents smile bigger, then baby smiles more and laughs. That’s the
very first connection that’s made in the brain of this infant who doesn’t
even know that it’s a separate being yet from these adult caregivers. “Oh,
they like that.” And it looks for clues and it picks up information about
what they like, about what to give them, about what to do for them, and
that’s how we grow up. And so that people pleasing where we exchange a
behavior for a response that we like, that is part of surviving.

Andrea:

Yes. Ah. You know-

Sara:

That’s why it’s so hard.

Andrea:

And before we started recording, Sara and I were talking about how it’s
something all of us deal with. There’s really no getting around it. I mean-

Sara:

There’s no way out of it.

Andrea:

… just based on the description you just gave, we all learn to survive
that way, right?

Sara:

Yes. Yes. Picking up on the cues and adapting to what’s around us for our
own survival.

Absolutely. And then we just grow up. And then there’s more big people who
give us ideas about how to please them. There’s rules they want us to obey.
There’s roles that they want us to take on. And whether it’s parents or
religious leaders or a coach or your favorite teacher at school, your world
just becomes full of people who want to tell you how they think you should
behave. And many of those people love you very much.

Andrea:

Yes, absolutely.

Sara:

And so it is not something they are doing to harm you. In fact, they think,
“This is how I’m going to keep her safe. I’m going to teach her to be a
good girl, to be nice and respectful and kind, and to not rock the boat and
to not do anything that’s going to upset other people, and that’s how she
will be safe.” And so all at the heart of everything we do or want as
humans, it is for safety and belonging. And that is what we risk when we
stop people pleasing. So no wonder it is, I think, the hardest work that a
human will ever do, and I think just to touch on this because I do think it
matters, I think in the beginning, people who are socialized as females and
people who are socialized as males, we all learn to people please, everybody
across the board.

I think men, boys, have a few exit ramps that women are not given. The
whole boys will be boys, excusing their behavior, valuing things like being
brave and tough and opinionated and standing up. Those tend to be in very
broad strokes, more the domain of how men are socialized rather than women.
And so that’s kind of where I see the fork in the road, is that men do have
this option to become very individualized and they’re praised for a lot of
the behavior that women are penalized for.

Andrea:

Yeah. Yes. And it’s sad to see. And also I agree with you that it’s
[inaudible 00:22:15] the work of your life, right? Because we’ve all heard
the term people pleasing. I’m sure our listeners have heard certainly
yours. I’ve done a podcast before about people pleasing on my own platform,
but I don’t think we often even touch the depths of it. It sounds like just
like a little thing, a little just, “Oh, I need to stop people pleasing.”
And I just think its tentacles reach so much deeper and further and wider
than we know. And yeah, I think you’re right. You hit on, it’s not to stop
people pleasing. The other side of that coin is letting ourself be seen. So
it’s inherently risky. It’s inherently vulnerable because it’s true that
some people might not like it, right?

Sara:

It’s absolutely true, yeah.

Andrea:

And might not agree, might not want you to go back so that they can be
comfortable, so they can be comfortable with the old version of you, or
when you did this other thing. And that’s why it’s so hard, right? That’s
why it’s so difficult, because it’s this process of stepping more into your
own and this explorative journey of, “Who even am I?” Because so many of us
have been told who to be not so much allowed the space to explore who we
actually are, right?

Sara:

Yes. And then a shocking number of us get married and make these promises
about who we will be in this relationship when we don’t even know who we
are. I’m not even talking necessarily about age. I mean, 25 years old is
about prefrontal cortex, fully formed time, but it can be anywhere from 25
to 30. How many people do we know who are already married by then?
Especially like you and I have a shared religious tradition, it’s very
common for people to get married quite young.

But even out in the wider world, getting married in your late 20s, early
30s, you are barely coming into the capacity to know who you are, and
you’ve already formed this relationship with another person. And so many
people pleasers come into relationships without a sense of who they are
without a feeling that what they have to say is important, that they matter
as an individual. They’re afraid of conflict because it must mean… Again,
it touches on that safety and belonging button that we’re so afraid of
pushing. They have all of these expectations about who they should be that
are defined outside of them by other people.

Andrea:

Thank you for listening to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
episodes, and other ways of working with me, go subscribe to my weekly
email. You can subscribe at andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. Again,
andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. I will see you next time.t here

Share this post

Hi. I’m Andrea Giles and I am so glad you are here.

Not many years back I found myself in a life I didn’t recognize, feeling confused, sad, and so small. My “forever” marriage was in shambles, and I didn’t know if I could ever trust my own judgment again.  Through my faith and some great tools, I was able to completely change my life and find myself again. Now it is my mission to help others who are right where I was. Click the button below to read more about my story.

Why was I not enough?

Does this question torment you? It did me too until I learned that the actions of my spouse had nothing to do with me, my worth, or my lovability. Click on the link below for a free guide that will teach you the 3 biggest lies about infidelity and why they are keeping you stuck.

Hi. I’m Andrea Giles and I am so glad you are here.

Not many years back I found myself in a life I didn’t recognize, feeling confused, sad, and so small. My “forever” marriage was in shambles, and I didn’t know if I could ever trust my own judgment again.  Through my faith and some great tools, I was able to completely change my life and find myself again. Now it is my mission to help others who are right where I was. Click the button below to read more about my story.