Do you frequently put other people’s needs before your own? Does the thought of saying “no” make you feel anxious and uneasy? If yes then I can totally relate. Wanting other people to be happy and maintaining harmonious relationships is completely fine. However there’s a fine line between wanting other’s happy and people pleasing.
Confessional time, I am a serial people pleaser! Overextending myself and putting other people’s needs before my own is my weakness. I try to avoid saying no at all costs and if I do it’s usually accompanied by an excuse to why I can’t do something. This habit even goes as far as offering to help others when I do not have the means or capacity. People pleasing has caused me a lot of anxiety, disappointment and unnecessary stress.
The sad truth is people pleasers have an underlying fear of being disliked. They want to be seen as a good person. They hold guilt around expressing their needs and in some ways believe it makes them selfish. People pleasers accept most things even at their own detriment because they belief they have to constantly be in service of others. As a result people pleasers have a difficult time setting healthy boundaries within their relationships. This can negatively affect relationships as they can become imbalanced, often leading to the people please overextending themselves to the other without leaving room to consider their own needs.
Also, people pleasers often have a hard time saying ‘no’ to people. The fear of saying no comes from an underlying fear of conflict, reprisal or loss. Saying ‘no’ is associated with the negative so people avoid using it and instead opt either do the thing they don’t want to do or make excuses. However I’ve learnt that in order to maintain healthy relationships it’s important that we truthfully express our needs and desires, even if it’s not a favourable response. People who respect you will respect your ‘no’ when it is said meaningfully and with good intent. If you keep saying yes, it will lose value and people will take advantage of it (knowingly and unknowingly).
Based on my own experiences, I’ve been able to identify a few reasons why people try so hard to please others:
Reasons for people pleasing:
- Wanting others to be happy
- Feeling like other people’s needs are more valuable than your own
- Your worth is contingent on other people’s likeness of you
- Fear of conflict and being disliked
- Fear of not being respected
- Over anticipating our ability to handle things and thus over extending ourselves
I’ve spent too many years navigating my life trying to please everyone around me. I was so worried about what others would think of me to the point where I would put other people’s needs before my own. Currently I am challenging myself to say ‘no’ with love and integrity, and be honest about my capacity to extend myself to others. There are a few things I am trying and it’s working so far.
If you are a people pleaser and would to stop putting other people’s needs before your own, try the following:
1. Become aware of how you feel when you have to compromise- Think about all the times you overextended yourself to please others when you really didn’t feel like it. Write down how you felt after you made the commitment. You might have instantly regretted it or felt drained, and under pressure to perform. Think about whether it’s worth going through these feelings again just because you didn’t say no or not right now. It will make it more clearer that being honest with ourselves and others saves a lost less stress in the long run.
2. Practice saying no- Saying no doesn’t have to sound harsh or mean. You can say no full of love and integrity behind it. If you’re not comfortable saying a straight up ‘no’, then try using phrases like this: “ I appreciate you inviting me but I will not be able to make that event. Thank you for the invite and have lots of fun.” “At the moment I can’t right now, but when I have capacity I will reach out to you.”
3. Figure out your needs and desires- When you are faced with a decision whether to extend yourself or not, think about whether the thing you’re committing to aligns with your present needs and desires. For example; You might need to spend sometime on the weekend studying so it’s in your best interest to stay home instead of committing to go out with friends. Make decisions that prioritize your own needs and desires.
4. Remind yourself that Social Media ‘likes’ is not an indication of your worth- It’s easy to think your worth is based on your following when we live in an age where people buy their followers and spend tons amounts of time figuring out how they can get more likes to their page. I fall into this trap from time to time. It’s inevitable that the lack of likes would make a person question their self-worth. It’s important to realise that the amount of likes you get does not determine your self-worth. The only person who should have control over the way you view yourself is you! No amount of likes will satisfy you unless you decide to validate yourself.
5. Find and repeat a mantra to yourself when you feel the urge to people please- You could try these or find your own that are suitable to you:
“My needs are valid”
“I am overthinking this situation”
” I am entitled to boundaries and they are necessary for my own self-preservation”
“No is a complete sentence” – Lisa Nichols
“People who respect me will respect my no”
“If you keep saying yes, you diminish the value of your yes”
Anyways, I hope you learn to become comfortable with saying no and choose to give to others from our overflow. Remember no amount of people pleasing will substitute your self-worth!
Questions to you:
Are you a people pleaser?
Do you feel comfortable saying no?
Much love, Ash xx