No More People Pleasing, Please!

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Q: Do you want to go to the museum on...

Q: Do you want to go to the museum on Saturday?

A: Sure!


Q: Can you finish this project by tomorrow?

A: Yes!

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Q: Isn’t this music great?

A: It is!

Stacy wasn’t sure why she responded the way she did to each of these questions. She hates the museum. She has two other projects due this week and has no time to add on anything else. And the music she was listening to gave her a headache.

Stacey responded this way because she is a people pleaser. Afraid of a negative response if she says no or contradicts, Stacy agrees to everything in order to avoid rocking the boat at all cost.

Can you relate to this? If you suspect you are a people pleaser, read on to learn about P.L.E.A.S.E. indicators and how to overcome this habit.

(P)utting Others First

This may not sound like a bad thing on paper. In fact, putting others ahead of ourselves is often seen as an admirable quality. However, people pleasers do this because they fail to admit that they have any needs at all. In an effort to avoid disappointing anyone, you run yourself ragged trying to do it all.

There’s a reason that they tell you on flights to put the oxygen mask over your face first before helping others. While serving others is great, you won’t be able to do this well if you don’t also take care of yourself. People pleasers often wait for permission from someone else to do this. But it’s important for you to give permission to yourself. Make your needs a priority.

(L)etting Others Decide

People pleasers don’t want to make waves. They avoid voicing strong opinions and let others make decisions for them because going along with the majority is less risky. They believe if they appear to go with the flow, they won’t be thought of as pushy, negative or stubborn. This often means agreeing to things they don’t enjoy, don’t want to do, or that go against their morals.

Know that it’s okay to speak up. You are perfectly capable of making decisions. Others are often grateful for someone who is willing to express an opinion and make a decision. It shows confidence, not pushiness. Find your voice and use it.

(E)xpecting Everyone to Like You

Finding out someone doesn’t like you is absolutely crushing for a people pleaser. You did everything you could to make them like you! What did you do wrong? What can you do to get them to change their mind?

These are people-pleaser questions. It’s inevitable that someone won’t like you. So many personalities make up this planet that you’re going to find some that will you rub the wrong way. It doesn’t make you any less of a person. It simply makes you human. Accept that not everyone will like you and stop pouring emotional energy into trying to make sure everyone does.

(A)voiding Your Emotions

Have you buried your emotions so often and so deep that you have trouble finding them? If so, you might be a people pleaser. Because you’re so anxious to make others happy, you suppress your own feelings. If you ignore them long enough, you risk no longer recognizing them. You may have relied on the feelings of others for so long that you don’t know what you truly feel any more.

Do some soul searching. Re-identify your emotions. Get in touch with how you feel about things, rather than seeing them through another’s lens. Give yourself permission to feel, express and experience the emotions you have been denying.

(S)aying Yes

“No” rarely leaves a people pleaser’s lips. Telling someone no might disappoint or anger them. It might make them think less of you, or worse, not like you! You say yes to everything in an endless effort to appease. The result is an overbooked schedule and lying about your availability. You become the yes-man or yes-woman that everyone goes to for tasks no one else wants to do, because they know you won’t say no.

It will be hard at first, but it’s important to learn to say no. Start small. You don’t have to take seconds of food you don’t like. You can admit that you’re too busy to babysit. You don’t have to listen to music you hate. As you learn to express your emotions, you can also learn to say no when you need to.

(E)motional Turmoil

If you have spent years burying your emotions and saying yes to everything, you likely experience frequent frustration, anger and bitterness. While not expressed externally, this emotional battle rages within you and doesn’t have an outlet. You resent the person who has “forced” you to do something when you could have said no or get angry about a situation you’re in when it could have been avoided by being honest.

If you start saying no, become honest about your needs and accept that not everyone will like you, you can overcome being a people pleaser. Not everyone will be pleased, but it will be a much more pleasing life.


Image Courtesy of iStock

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