Are you a people-pleaser?
Do you consciously look for ways to avoid conflict? Are you “nice” to anyone and everyone at all times because you’re worried or afraid they might dislike you or find something unkind to say about you? Do you suppress uncomfortable feelings, comments, or thoughts around others because you are afraid of an angry retort or conversation? Do you sometimes feel “fake” or “inauthentic” because your “nice” face and attitude is your default mode of interaction with everyone? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s quite likely that people-pleasing is (at least partially) your modus operandi (a.k.a. MO – your habits of working or functioning).
But where does people-pleasing stem from, you wonder? Typically, the desire to please others is based on the fear of losing their approval, being abandoned, and/or not knowing how to manage uncomfortable emotions (your own or others’ – i.e. anger, frustration, disappointment, anxiousness, grief, jealousy, malice, despair, etc.). The catch 22 with people-pleasing is that it often doesn’t accomplish what you think it does (spoiler alert – it doesn’t make people like you more!), and it can take a toll on your emotional, mental, and physical health. People-pleasers can suffer from illnesses such as depression, chronic fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia (just to name a few). People-pleasers are also known for leaning toward the self-medication route to numb themselves or to give them an extra boost of confidence or inhibition using drugs, alcohol, and/or food to comfort and soothe.
The extra kick in the butt is that trying to make people like you by being nice all the time, means that relationships will only go so deep. People-pleaser relationships are often two-dimensional – surface value only, no depth or authenticity. Sorry, that’s not a healthy relationship, no matter how comfortable it is for you!
Listen – you are meant to be a 3D person with opinions, likes and dislikes, comments, criticisms, limits and boundaries, and your own schedule, goals, dreams, desires, and motivations! How can you focus on any of that when you’re always taking care of or doing for others because you’re worried about being seen as a “bad” person? FYI – you can’t. Period. You are designed and born and have the right to “suck the marrow out of life” (LOVE this quote by Steven Covey) while you’re here on this earth!
So, how do you change people-pleasing thoughts, habits, and emotions? How do you practice self-care without feeling that you are being selfish?
First and foremost, take the time to become more self-aware about what might be motivating your people-pleasing tendencies. Reflect on times when you said yes when you really wanted to say no to something or someone; practicing meditation, jotting your thoughts down in a journal, or using a voice recorder might be helpful in recognizing your people-pleasing patterns. Is it the thought of someone not liking you or seeing you as selfish driving your bus? Perhaps it’s the fear of strong, uncomfortable emotions and conflict that paralyzes you into keeping everybody “happy”? Maybe it’s a learned behavior or habit you grew up with or developed based on experiences in your life? Often, it can be a combination of all these things that cause people-pleasers to act.
Here are some other external actionable ideas to try as well. But, be forewarned, not only is this going to be uncomfortable for you, those who are used to you dropping everything for them and expect a YES from you EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. they want or need something are also going to go through an adjustment period. Shackles may be raised – but brace yourself – you got this!
1. Start saying no to things you don’t want to do. If your mouth is saying yes, but your gut is saying no to an idea or a person, let your gut do the talking. If your mouth is faster and you say yes anyway, and then turn around and kick yourself shortly after – step up, change your mind, and say no.
2. Stop apologizing when you say no. Rather than say, “I’m so sorry, I can’t”, say something like, “I’m afraid that doesn’t work for me” or “No, I can’t make it today”.
3. Stop explaining why you’re saying no. Your reasoning for not doing something is not anyone else’s business but your own.
4. Make a list of things that are important for you to do for your own growth and development. What hobbies or interests do you enjoy but never have time for? What personal or professional goals have you been putting off?
5. Identify ways to practice self-care to ensure your health is a priority. Have you been to the doctor lately for a check-up? What is your exercise routine? How much quality sleep are you getting each night? What healthy foods are you putting in your body to fuel it?When do you take time for yourself to read, get a massage, soak in a hot bath, listen (and dance your butt off) to music, play an instrument, sing out loud, go for a walk, sit in nature, play a game, or get together with people you enjoy being around and who love you?
As you may have guessed, being able to say no is a BIGGIE to slowing down the people-pleasing monster. It also takes a lot of practice and much understanding of the feelings that are going to arise in you when you do it. How you manage those uncomfortable feelings the first time, the second time, and the umpteenth time when getting started on the “Say No Train” will make you or break you – so have a plan!
Remember, you are enough just as you are. Your dreams, goals, wants, needs, desires, feelings, and time are just as important and valuable as everyone else’s around you. So, I DARE you to break out your 3D individuality. In fact, I TRIPLE DOG DARE you – and everyone knows – you can’t back down from a triple dog dare! You just can’t.
I want to hear your uncomfortable and successful 3D YOU stories – share them with me by commenting here on the blog, or send me an email, or message me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. I can’t wait to connect and celebrate with you!
Until next time…
Keep It Simple,
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