I confess, I’ve been people pleasing since 1990. I can whole-heartedly admit that unconsciously caring about what people think about me, putting others before myself and trying to do the right thing by others is what I do… or it’s what I used to do anyway!
When you’re a people pleaser you tend to walk on tenterhooks around everyone else because you are worried that their opinion of you is going to change if you say something mildly out of tone. It actually becomes tiring living this way, and you don’t always receive the response you want from being that person.
It was not until maybe even the last two years or so that I really started to be well OVER this trait of mine and actually start investing some of that effort into myself and was ready to start making some changes. That’s not to say I don’t still hold this attribute- believe me I’m still working on it, but I’ve realised that in life, you can’t please everybody all the time, and some people are going to love you, and some are going to loath you. But who cares… why do you need those who don’t like you in your life when you’ve got plenty that do like you throwing good energy at you? When it comes to people, we are so so good at focussing our time, energy and effort on those that don’t value it so much and who can’t appreciate what you can bring to their lives and we often leave behind those who genuinely vibe off our presence. It’s a sad truth and in the past I know that I have done this. Changing your people pleasing habit doesn’t mean you’re now going to up and become an arsehole to everyone you meet, trust me I still am tested by the need to please because I’m a nice person and I struggle with this sometimes, but you can definitely do some things that will allow you to be more honest with yourself and others and be more authoritative. Here are a few tips to doing that:
There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying no. If you can’t deliver or if you actually don’t want to do something, then say no! It doesn’t make you a horrible person to not want to do something, and if you can’t do it, logistically, physically, emotionally or whatever else, then saying no is the right thing to do. It’s sometimes worse to constantly say yes and then not deliver on what you are saying yes to; you then risk people being disappointed in you. And don’t feel guilty for saying no either, that’s unhealthy. We often compensate by coming up with excuse after excuse to justify saying no, just say no, accept it and move on.
Stand up for yourself
People often mistake standing up for yourself as big-headedness or worse… psycho. This happens loads in relationships. If you don’t like the way someone is treating you, then say it, if you feel like someone is messing you around, then call them out on it. Don’t lessen yourself for someone else’s gain just so that you can stay in THEIR good books. Be confident in yourself and your own mind to know your value and worth, and stand up for it.
Say sorry- but only if you actually are or should be
Are you one of those people who likes to keep the peace so end up saying sorry for everything? I often get told from that I say sorry too much. Even when I know I haven’t done anything, and I get people saying ‘dont be silly why the hell are you apologising’. I’ll sit back and think, actually why am I sorry!? I’ve started to try now only really saying sorry for things I should actually be sorry about. When people know you expend the word sorry constantly, they don’t take it seriously anymore and also take you for granted and use it against you. Your feelings then become expendable to others.
Think ‘do I actually want to do this’
As I’ve said before, saying no is probably one of life’s biggest struggles for me. Even when I want to say no, I will evaluate whats being asked, and find a way to say yes. But over time I’ve become really comfortable with asking myself if its something I actually want to do, and if I don’t, I just say no. Simple as. Once again, who can fault you for being honest. It’s wise to note that I also struggle with FOMO (fear of missing out) so when it comes to social stuff the likelihood is that I’m saying yes!
Prioritise and set boundaries
It’s so easy to prioritise everyone else’s shit over your own shit and you are often left with not having actually achieved anything for yourself. If you know you have to be at home on your sofa at 6pm every evening ready to watch Home and Away, then make sure you’re doing it, and don’t let something or someone else stop you. If you love sleep and need 8 hours, don’t let something else stop you from getting that. Say no if it means missing something that you have planned for yourself. Set some boundaries and prioritise your own needs and practice doing this regularly.
Start being more open and honest and literally say to someone, no I can’t do this, I don’t want to do it, and I don’t really like what you’re doing. Over time I’ve learnt to love people for being honest and just saying things as they see it. It actually gains you a lot more respect, and shows that you can offer an alternative opinion or point of view and not just follow what everyone else says to please the crowd. There is such a thing as being too honest though, sometimes you have to pick your battles and keep some opinions to yourself because you’re not out to hurt anyone and don’t want to be offensive, but just expressing yourself and staying true to yourself is a great way to show people that you have a mind of your own.
I hope that helps… like I said, it can be a hard practice to follow, but its empowering when you begin to stop trying to please everyone around you all the time, that’s not to say that you don’t like doing things for others or you’re not a nice person, you’re just being more assertive and taking more control. On a daily basis, the person you should be making happiest, is yourself. So practice doing everything that makes you happy first, channelling that energy to others after that, then becomes the easy part.