Get Well

Tips on How to *Not* Be a People Pleaser

by Carley Schweet

Do your people-pleasing ways got you feeling all sorts of down? If you’re anything like me, you probably grew up in a household that praised you for doing the right thing, putting others first, and stuffing down your emotions.

Unfortunately, the assumptions I listed above stuck with me and landed me in a severe, crippling, and exhausting pattern of people-pleasing throughout my early to mid-twenties.

In the early days, I spent my days overworking at a job I didn’t love and saying Yes before thinking twice. 

On top of that toxic behavior, I believed I had the answers to everyone else’s problems. I’d offer to pitch in to help others before they even asked for my support, ultimately leaving little to no time to do things for myself. What I labeled as my deep sense of empathy as actually getting me in some significant trouble in the over-giving department.

You know what I got instead of the love, support, and security I was seeking?

A panic attack locked in the bathroom stall at my corporate fashion job.

Failed relationship after failed relationship.

A deep sense of emotional unfulfillment (why doesn’t anyone understand me?!)

And handfuls of empty ice cream pints night after night.

If you’re feeling the grips of over-giving, here are five tips to support you in reeling in your yes-person attitude and rediscovering your loving No.

TIP ONE: Untangle your feelings vs. the feelings of others

People-pleasers feel like they’re really good at reading what others are feeling. 

In fact, people-pleasers can become so deeply enmeshed in the emotions of another person that it can be challenging to differentiate their own experiences from the other persons.

TIP TWO: Pause before automatically saying Yes to requests from others

If committing to a request before pausing to think about if it’s something you really want to do is your usual default, perhaps it’s time to consider the word No.

To rectify your people-pleasing ways, you must begin to take a cold, hard look at your life. Begin to uncover where you’re overcommitting – especially in the areas that don’t necessarily light you up inside.

Start by looking objectively at your life for three days and take notice of what you’re saying Yes to, what you’re saying No to, and what you’re writing off as a “maybe.” Once you have your list, begin to make shifts and adjustments as necessary to bring back some personal time and precious energy into your life.

TIP THREE: Get back in touch with your priorities

When always living to please others, it can be pretty easy to fall out of touch with your priorities. Much like taking on the emotions of others, the same can happen with goals and ambitions.

It’s essential to reconnect with your priorities in life – in both the short and long term – to help you further discover where to begin saying No.

Start by asking yourself the below questions:

What’s important to me right now?
Where do I see myself in five years?
What’s stopping me from living the life I dream of?

TIP FOUR: Rediscover what you’re passionate about

Maybe you used to love going to an early morning yoga class before work. It was what set your day up to be great, and you always left feeling recharged.

Unfortunately, at work, the requests began to pile on you took on professional responsibilities that weren’t really yours to handle. 

You probably kissed goodbye to that yoga class, huh?

Getting back in touch with your passions – such as your hobbies or the things that bring you joy – will help you to gain more clarity around where to dedicate your precious time.

Believe it or not, not every task that comes your way has to be a Yes and an immediate commitment on your end. You have the power to say No and reclaim your time as yours.

TIP FIVE: Craft a few go-to ways to say No

Speaking of saying No, it’  sit’s often easier said than done. I really encourage my clients to come up with two or three one-liners that allow you to politely decline a request (hopefully, without feeling too awkward).

Here are two of my favorites:

Thanks for thinking of me! I have too much on my plate to say Yes.
I appreciate the offer, but I’m  I’m going to have to decline/say No.

It’s time for a change, friend. Learning to rectify your people-pleasing ways can be awkward at first – there’s no denying that fact. 

With time and practice, you will uncover the patterns in your life causing you to leak your precious energy in undeserving places.

Ultimately, you need to remember how worthy you are of saying No, setting boundaries, and taking back the power in your life. Your people-pleasing ways no longer have to define you.

Feature Image via Emma Trimm

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