The People-Pleaser: A Trauma Survivor Mechanism

Some of us may be apt to help as much as possible. Some of us may know others who are consistently going out of their way to help others. In certain instances, this is a response to childhood trauma. When a person has grown up in an environment where their mental or physical well-being is threatened, people-pleasing may have been used as a survival skill in response to this threat. In childhood, this may have looked like not expressing yourself, your needs, or “talking back” to an authority figure to avoid conflict. This would be considered people-pleasing since the child is putting the needs of others ahead of their own.

As we become adults this trait can easily morph into people-pleasing in our interpersonal and occupational relationships. This can look like trouble saying “no” to tasks we truly do not want to take on. In the work environment, your boss may consistently go to you with overwhelming projects, and in relationships, you may feel pressure to help the other person as much as possible, even at the cost of your own wellness. Subconsciously this is done to avoid potentially experiencing a negative reaction from the other person. If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable or anxious when saying “yes” to someone, this may indicate a trauma-related response pattern. You may notice your body becoming tense, and experience resentment and psychological distress. Becoming self-aware and implementing boundaries is a step into un-programming this cycle. Consulting with a therapist is a great way to channel into the root of our trauma-related responses, and learning how to set healthy boundaries.


Posted by Colette Lopane-Capella

Saying No

Let’s talk about saying no. For many saying no is impossible. If you know me, you know that I always say that saying is not selfish it’s self-care and essential to survive. Below is a list of some statements and ways to say no, remember it’s not selfish it’s self-care.

Do not feel guilt about saying no, you have to take care of yourself before you can anyone else, saying no is part of that recipe.

Honoring yourself is the most important thing.

Before saying no do this quick simple check to range your comfort level with saying yes and if your body and mind tells you the opposite, then you probably need to say no and use one of the statements below.

1. Check in with your body

2. Ask yourself what best serves my greater good

3. Take time before answering

4. Ask yourself the final question if I said no how does it serve me?

Helpful no statements:

Unfortunately not

I’m slammed

Not possible

Not this time

Not for me, thanks

It’s not my thing

I think I’ll pass.

Not today, thanks

I wish I could but…

I’m taking sometime

Maybe another time

I’m not interested

If only I could!

Not now, but another time

I’m honored, but I can’t

I wish I were able to

Damn! Not able to fit it in

I won’t be able to help

I’d love to – but can’t

I’d rather not, thanks

I wish I could make it work

I wish there were two of me

No thank you, but it sounds lovely

We appreciate the offer, however…

Unfortunately, it’s not a good time

No thanks, I won’t be able to make it

Thanks for thinking of me but I can’t

No thanks, I have another commitment

I appreciate your time, but no thank you

I’m not really into it, but thanks for asking!


Posted by Colette Lopane-Capella

Understanding Cognitions, Automatic Thoughts and Core Beliefs

Understanding what influences our automatic thoughts will allow us to better see how these thoughts can directly affect what we believe about ourselves, our world, and the future (whether it is true or not). Getting a grapple on these concepts is key to getting a handle on our negative thoughts and help us bring more reason and realism into the picture.

This post will include simple definitions along the way to help better explain the concepts:


Are mental processes that can change our thoughts and perceptions which in turn will change our behavior/experience.

Notice, How people feel and behave is largely determined by their cognitions and changes how people structure their experience.

The cognitive triad developed by Beck proposes three types of views or perspectives, which are thoughts about the self, thoughts about the world, and thoughts about the future.

For example:

Thought about self: “I am worthless”

Thought about the world: “The world is a dangerous place”

Thought about the future: “Thing will always go wrong”


Influence the cognitive triad. They are patterns of thoughts that are organized into categories of information that influence our core beliefs

Core beliefs

Are rigid rules a person gives to themselves such as, “things will always go poorly for me”.

Note that schemas affect our core beliefs because core beliefs are influenced by the schemas we have about our world, our future, and ourselves, allowing us to truly believe and feel deeply affected by thoughts that may not even have truthful value.

Automatic Thoughts

Can be triggered in a person’s mind every day. When a person believes things about themselves such as “I will always be alone “ these thoughts will cause the person to automatically think no one likes them and automatically think negatively about their world and environment in general. This can cause a person to adapt negative thinking and see his or herself in a self-critical manner, causing them to feel unpleasant emotions and develop negative behaviors such as withdrawing or being avoidant

The key to managing our cognitions, automatic thoughts, and core beliefs is to understand that thoughts are simply just that- thoughts. We must see that just because we think something, does not necessarily mean it must be so. Calming down our mind takes practice and can be a challenge, but with consistently providing ourselves with positive affirmations, moments of quiet, mediation, and self-care we can better manage the false cognitions, stop the vicious cycle of negative thinking and return to baseline.

Posted by Colette Lopane-Capella

A New Route to Choosing a Resolution

When choosing a resolution for the new year we typically choose one to help us get better at something we do not excel in. The premise of choosing a resolution in this manner is great, but not motivating enough to withstand long-lasting results.

When we select to work on something we already do not like to do, chances are we will not stick with it and continue not growing in that area. In response, we feel even more like a failure and inadequate.

This year, and for the rest of your years, I want you to approach resolutions differently. Forget about choosing an area you lack in. Select an area you are strong in. What are you good at? Where do you show up? How can you up-level this and make this part of you even stronger in the new year?

This approach is different, positive, strength-based and more constructive. Since this area is already a strength you are more likely to stick with it because there is no feelings of shame or disappointment associated with the topic. You will not feel intimidated by growing in an area you enjoy and know the ins and outs of. You are allowing yourself to shine and giving yourself an opportunity to get creative with your strengths.

Happy new year and may you have a healthy and content year!


Posted by Colette Lopane-Capella