As the former people pleaser and a “nice girl” I have yet to get the hung on confronting people. I am making my first steps, but as the conflict situations are highly inconvenient for me, it usually looks clumsy to say the least.
The first problem of mine is, that I really tend to get overly defensive when I sense that someone is crossing my borders. I have been all too often regarded as someone who can be stepped over easily, so now I automatically assume that the other person is out to get me- that they have it out for me. This, naturally, might not always be the case at all and they might just be unaware that they are crossing my borders. I usually do not lash out on people, but I do have a mental dialogue about how inappropriate behavior this other person is exposing. I guess it is normal for people, who have once experienced a great deal of manipulation and controlling to expect certain maliciousness from other people.
The other problem, I experience, is that I tend to “disappear”. Since confrontations are difficult for me, I sometimes rather pull away and distance myself from this other person. Furthermore, it is sometimes difficult for me to understand, what exactly is the problem. I just get the sense that I do not want to be around this person, but I rarely trust my gut. No, I have to figure out what is really the problem. It is highly likely, that if you are a people pleaser, you have been taught not to believe your own feelings and instincts. You need to hear someone else confirming that the person X is indeed behaving badly. Even that might not always be enough, you might continue to analyze the situation and try to find new ways of looking at it just to somehow find the magic switch as to how to make it right. After all, conflicts and furthermore, risking to be unliked by someone, is highly anxiety evoking for you.
The third problem that I have with confronting people is that I am not yet sure as to where exactly my borders lie. I can switch, reconsider- they are not very firm. This might be confusing for those around me as well, and they might see me as highly unpredictable. After all, I am switching the rules on a constant basis. This is also part of the process of growing out of people pleasing mode- you need to see what actually works and does not work for you and it takes time.
Finally, I get highly inconvenient when I try to confront someone and they react aggressive towards me. It is quite likely that as a people pleaser, you might have attracted number of people that enjoy having all the control. Controllers are highly inconvenient with being confronted and being told no. That was my lesson with my best friend. As I told her no for the first time, she made a scene about it and we continued talking about my complexes in connection to the situation. Talking about her behavior was impossible. Afterwards, as I pulled my distancing act, however, I was accused for not talking about the problems in the relationship and instead avoiding her. This is a no win situation, as I discovered, there is no way of talking yourself out of there as there are people that really cannot take confrontation. When you look around, you often notice that most close people in their lives are extremely submissive, so they actually do not have to hear the word no all that often. As of average person, they might also react defensive at first to your confrontation, especially if it is a new rule you are trying to institute, but they tend to warm up to the idea eventually and then things can be discussed. However, that assumes from your part, that you hold your ground and do not “give up” with the first sign of disapproval.
In the end all I can say, that for me this process of learning how to confront people, has definitely been valuable. It is an ongoing struggle, but apart from (temporarily) conflictual relationships, you also experience a sense of freedom and control. This feeling is really intoxicating and totally worth the trouble.