How to Stop People Pleasing
People pleasing looks good on the outside.
You have a stellar reputation for being generous and helpful. You follow through on commitments and are flexible when plans change or others flake out. In moderation, this is a lovely trait, but too much of good thing is just that - too much.
When people pleasing is a problem, you're exhausted and resentful. You start saying yes when you mean no. You love being the hero but it wipes you out. You wish people would just stop asking.
What is a people pleaser?
A people pleaser gives to others in the hope of getting what they want. The unspoken expectation is that you'll get some sort of recognition or support coming back to you. You think that if you give others what they want, you'll get what you want.
But it doesn't work that way. Other people have no clue about this hidden expectation because it's not communicated directly. Secretly you expect the other person to know what you need.
How to let go of people pleasing
It takes a lot of effort to stop people pleasing. The kudos of being the helper are hard to give up. But there comes a point when you hit a wall and need to stop.
Being people pleaser is not a bad thing if you can still take care of yourself. Putting everyone else's needs first makes you feel invisible and taken advantage of.
It's tough to have satisfying relationships when your needs are tossed aside - especially when you are the one tossing them. When people pleasing takes over, relationships become "reactionships."
Here are some ways to stop people pleasing and take better care of yourself.
1. Be honest
It takes a lot to admit that you want to stop. You pretend that you can keep giving but you can't keep up the pace. Taking the risk to be honest about how you really feel is the first step towards changing this pattern.
According to the National Family Caregiver Alliance Center, care-givers (often considered people pleasers) are at risk for depression, heart disease, obesity and other stress-related illnesses.
2. Acknowledge your needs
Acknowledging your own needs doesn't mean that you have to stop giving. Just check in with yourself first.
Next time you're asked a favor think about whether or not it works for you. Or, do you have other priorities? Speaking up about what you need lessens resentment and helps you feel more authentic.
On the other hand, when the focus is more on others, your needs get ignored. If you ignore your needs, you teach others to do the same.
3. Say no nicely
Being afraid to sound mean or selfish keeps the people pleasing going. You can learn how to say no without making others feel guilty or wrong. Using a kind tone of voice helps. People respond well to clear messages even when the answer is no.
If you want more information on how to say no nicely read my blog The Power of Saying No.
4. Practice good self-care
When people pleasing is a problem, it throws self-care out the window. Personal time is spent on doing favors not yourself. This affects how much time you have for things like sleeping, healthy eating and enjoying time with friends.
By choosing to take care of yourself first, giving becomes a choice not an obligation.
5. Let go of the guilt
At the core of every pleaser is self-doubt. You struggle with a bad case of the "should's." This makes you continue to say yes when you mean no. The irony is that family and friends want the best for you. They want you to take care of yourself but unless you can follow through, you'll never be free.
6. Trust no matter what it looks like
It's a risk to change. People expect you to stay the same so be prepared. You can't predict their response. If you do get a negative reaction, it's ok. They have right to be disappointed but eventually this passes! When I started saying no, I was surprised that no one really cared. It was my own fear that prevented me from changing. You might be surprised that it's not that big of a deal.
How to start putting yourself first
If you're still reading this, you're motivated. You want your time back or to stop feeling resentful in your relationships. When you're always giving, you can't receive.
Like the Nike saying goes - Just do it. Pick one thing that you can change right now. If you're not ready to take action, make a list of things you don't want to do anymore. That is the first step. To know what you don't want leads you closer to what you do what.
Start with a small favor with someone you trust. Let yourself fumble it! It gets easier once you realize that the sky won't fall if you say no - and you might actually enjoy it!
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