A people pleaser wants everyone around them to be happy and are always putting others needs ahead of their own. Does that sound like you? While it might sound admirable, saying ‘yes’ to others can often mean saying ‘no’ to yourself, just for the sake of validation from your peers.
If you’re a People pleaser, you often fear what others will think of them if they say no – perhaps that you’re lazy, egocentric or selfish. In the worst cases, the good nature of people pleasers is often taken advantage of. You’ll often be the person called on to help out with school pick-ups, or work overtime to get work out the door by deadline, or be constantly hosting visitors at your house.
Whether it’s your children, your mother, your co-workers or your friends who are over-demanding of your time or services, saying ‘yes’ to them all the time does come with risks. Over-committing yourself in all directions can drain your energy, leaving little time and space for yourself, and have you feeling anxious and exhausted.
So how can you stop being a people pleaser without feeling like you are letting others down or hurting someone’s feelings? To get you started, here are 8 tips to help you stop being a people pleaser:
1. Decide on your priorities
Setting your own priorities can help you create a gauge on how you want to distribute your time. Decide who or what is most deserving of your time. For example, if your colleague asks you to stay late to help them complete a task, ask yourself how that impacts on your other priorities – perhaps your number 1 priority is to be home in time to meet your kids after school. If it is something that takes away from what’s important to you, then you’ll realise that you need to say no.
We often feel ‘on the spot’ or under pressure when someone asks us for help, so next time someone asks you for a favour, delay giving them an answer straight away. Say that you need to think about it. This will give you some time to consider whether what they’re asking fits in with the priorities that you decided above, and whether you really have time to help them before making a commitment. It will also give you time to think of a way to say ‘no’ without feeling rude.
3. Limit your availability
If you want to help someone out, provide a limit – for example, say that you’re only available for another hour, or between 2pm and 4pm, or until your next bus home is arriving. Just because you have time, doesn’t mean you need to make yourself available; you are entitled to your own time too – when else will you be able to go online shopping?
4. Say no with conviction
If you’re someone who is easily swayed by a bit of pressure, practice saying ‘no’ with conviction and giving no room for negotiation. Clearly state your reason, but without feeling like you need to justify yourself, and do not apologise. Use an emphatic expression, so that the other person knows you have considered their position, but that on this occasion you are not in a position to help them.
5. Don’t base your self-worth on what you do for other people
Helping others is a noble attribute, but it’s something that you should do because you want to, not because you feel that you have to, or out of guilt. Helping others should not come at the expense of your own well-being.
6. Remember, saying NO has its benefits
Saying no to one thing opens up the opportunity to spend time and energy on something else that really adds value to your life.
7. Pay attention to your feelings
If you notice that you’re feeling angry, resentful or frustrated after going out of your way to help someone, or agreeing with them against your own wishes, then that’s a sign that you’re not aligning your actions with your true feelings. Pay attention to the people or instances when you feel this way, and make an effort to instead speak up for yourself.
8. Understand that you can’t be everything to everyone
Stretching yourself to limits to keep everyone happy is exhausting, and generally the people who end up missing out on quality time and interactions with you are the people that matter to you the most. Remember it’s not up to you to make everyone happy, and that you are the only person in charge of your own happiness too!
Remember, you always have a choice to say yes or no when someone asks for your help. Are you a serial people-pleaser? What tips do you use to stop being a people pleaser?