Do You Suffer From the Need to Please?
People pleasing isn’t all about pleasing others … it’s also about our effort to control what others think of us and fending off fear of rejection.
The truth is, people pleasing isn’t all about pleasing others … it’s also about our effort to control what others think of us and fending off fear of rejection.
People pleasers are generally individuals who feel the need to be accepted by the world around them. And not just a general acceptance, but that of each person they come in contact with. Why does it matter so much to please someone else? The culture we humans have created for ourselves is mainly driven by what other people think of us, the tension between the desire for approval and the fear of disapproval. Businesses, social media, families, friendships, sports, politics; everything is heavily influenced by it.
Signs that you may be a people pleaser
- You say yes, even when your mind says no.
- You feel devastated at the very thought of someone not liking you.
- You cringe at the first sign of conflict.
- You find it difficult to speak up for yourself.
- You lose sleep over the slightest altercation with another.
- You help people even when they haven’t asked, and then feel resentful when if they don’t show ‘enough’ gratitude.
You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, unapologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside. The enemy of the ‘best’ is often the ‘good.’ ~Stephen Covey
People pleasers worry how others will view them when they say no because they don’t want to be seen as lazy, uncaring, selfish or totally egocentric. They especially fear they’ll be disliked and cut from the group, whether it’s friends, family or co-workers.
Not only does this create a lot of unnecessary pressure and stress, but if you’re over committed, you could lose sleep and become anxious and upset because you possibly can’t do it all.
Here are a few strategies to help you overcome the need to please
- Find your motivation: Once you’ve identified yourself as a people pleaser, the first thing to do is take a thoughtful look at all the ways this is affecting your life. What’s holding you back from saying no without feeling guilty? If you find yourself repeatedly saying yes, only to end up feeling bitter and resentful then you need to be honest with the people involved. It’s not their responsibility to protect your healthy boundaries; it’s yours.
- Set your priorities: Knowing your priorities and values helps you put the brakes on people-pleasing. Saying no without feeling guilty can be difficult, especially when it involves people you love and work with. But if saying yes prevents you from being able to do other things that are important to you or essential to achieving your goals, you need to learn how to say no without guilt – and you don’t have to explain why or offer excuses. A simple “I’m sorry I can’t help you with that,” will do. Rather than falling into “guilt mode” feel proud of yourself for focusing on the things that matter in your life.
- Think before you commit: Whenever someone asks you for a favor, it’s perfectly OK to say that you need to think about it. This gives you the opportunity to consider if you can commit to helping them. (Be sure and take the opportunity to ask the person for details about the commitment so you can make an informed decision.) Then ask yourself if you really have the time to do this. What will you have to give up in order to do this? How pressured are you going to feel? Are you going to end up resentful of this person for asking? Asking these questions is key to preventing “What was I thinking?!” regrets later on.
- Consider if you’re being manipulated: The sad truth is sometimes people are going to take advantage of you. Often the people who flatter you will say things like, ‘Oh you’re so much better at this than I am’ or ‘You’re so handy, can you help me out?’ Manipulators will gently coax you into doing something and before you know it, the decision has been made for you.
- Don’t feel you need to defend yourself: It’s tempting to want to defend your decision to say no to someone so they understand your reasoning but that can not only back fire on you, it sets you up as coming from a place of weakness. It’s better to simply show a little empathy by letting the person know that you understand where they’re coming from, but unfortunately, you can’t help. People need to feel heard and understood, and this is a respectful way of asserting yourself and saying no.
Creating healthy boundaries for yourself isn’t selfish. When you say no to a new commitment, you’re honoring your existing obligations and ensuring that you’ll be able to devote quality time to them … there’s nothing worse than not being able to address a real need because our time is being consumed by our inability to say no to the squeaky wheels that surround us.
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