If letting someone down by saying “no” frightens the hell out of you, then read on, you might be a people pleaser.
Agreeing with everyone and everything loads up your (probably already full) plate, until you are left with little time and energy for yourself.
It’s one thing to be agreeable, accommodating, and cooperative – and it is another to hope to gain approval by doing so. It only leaves you feeling anxious, drained, and probably resentful. You can be much more helpful to those around you by looking after number one first (that is you, in case you’re still wondering!)
People pleasing behaviour often begins in childhood. Can you think back to a time where the love of your parents was dependent on your behaviour? Or maybe you were the peacemaker in the household and took it upon yourself to make sure everyone’s needs were met.
So what can you do to take back your power if this is sounding all too familiar?
Start by getting curious, ask yourself, “where is this coming from?” “why do I feel like my needs don’t matter as much as others?” Reflecting and becoming self-aware can open you up to some interesting answers.
Take this opportunity to look within yourself and get to know what she wants and needs. It is time to get yourself off the backburner and put yourself first instead. Get to know and like your authentic self, and others will start to take notice and follow suit.
Get clear on what’s most important to you, what you would love to prioritise, and then don’t budge on these! In fact, schedule them into your calendar right away – it’s a lot easier to politely decline requests when you know you already have a full calendar.
The next time you are presented with the opportunity to take on too much, realise that you have a choice and the world will not stop spinning if you reply with a polite, but strong “no, thank you”.
Ask yourself if you are saying ‘yes’ because you genuinely want to, or because you are feeling pressured. While you’re at it, be a little curious about how authentic your friendships are when you’re people pleasing. Imagine if your friend said yes to your invitation because they’re not good at saying no, instead of wanting to spend time with you, what could that reveal about your friendship?
Stall a little and practise using the phrase “let me get back to you”. This gives you time to look at your schedule and evaluate if you actually have the necessary time and energy for it before you commit. Alternatively, you can offer a compromise that respects both of your time.
Boundaries are one of my favourite things. They allow you to find your true identity, they grow your self-worth, and they teach people how to treat you. Once you put your boundaries in place, you will notice the world around you shift. Do not compromise on the boundaries you have set, they will be in place to make you feel in charge and refreshed.
If enforcing your new boundaries seems intimidating, try practicing on some ‘safe people’ who are easy to talk to. The ones who love and respect you will understand. And remember to be patient with yourself; moving on from people pleasing is no easy feat.
Just like a muscle, your sense of self-worth will take repetition and practise to grow stronger. But when you are making people happy just by being yourself, it will feel a thousand times better, I promise.