Growing up in an environment where people are incapable of accepting or forgiving you for expressing your views and desires can impact your future social behavior. Certain childhood experiences, like getting yelled at or not being acknowledged for expressing your emotions and needs, can force you into the mindset that you need to be responsive to what others expect you to do and say. The very question of what you might want becomes secondary. The priority is second-guessing the desires of people you depend upon. Let us look at how you can move away from such behavior and balance your needs with those of others.
What is It?
Do you struggle to say “No” to others when they want something from you? Do you feel obligated to match their expectations of you? Do you give your consent to plans you hate? Do you feel you are suppressing your authentic needs and desires just so people like you? This inability to express your real needs and ambitions makes you a “People Pleaser.”
Being someone who pleases people sounds, on the face of it, like an excellent idea. But it is a pattern of behavior riddled with problems, as much for you as for your audience. In simpler terms, it makes you a liar. The lies are not to give you an advantage in any aspect. Instead, they arise out of your fear of causing discomfort or displeasure to others.
The personality trait associated with people-pleasing is “sociotropy.” In this, the individual almost feels like earning the approval of others is a way to feel good about themselves. Going beyond your limits to make others happy can cause emotional damage and stress. It can take a toll on your mind. Being kind does not mean that you have to sacrifice your mental well-being for the sake of others. It can also result in other medical conditions like borderline personality disorder, codependency, depression, etc.
You need to be there for your close ones. But it is also important that you can pursue your happiness. A mental health professional can help you focus on your own needs. A trained therapist can guide you in establishing boundaries while maintaining relationships.
Signs You Might Struggle With This Behavior
People pleasers have some giveaways. If you identify with many of these characteristics, then you might be one. Following are some of the people-pleaser tendencies:
- You find it tough to say “No” to others.
- You feel guilty when you find the courage to say “No.”
- You sign up for things you are not fond of only because someone asked you to join them.
- You are constantly worried about what others might think of you.
- You fear that others will take you for being rude or selfish if you turn down their request/call to join them.
- You always apologize to people even when you haven’t done anything that warrants an apology.
- You struggle with low self-esteem.
- The thought that you are not liked bothers you. Hence, you try to get the approval of others by leaving your comfort zone.
- You sideline your needs and happiness for the sake of others
- You avoid disagreeing with people even when you hold different views.
- In your tendency to please, you may even take the blame for others’ faults.
- You struggle to find time for yourself because you are doing something for someone else.
Being empathic and thoughtful toward others is good, but empathy for yourself is also necessary. Otherwise, it can result in poor self-image and lack of control. Others might also take advantage of your kindness. Being generous to others is of no use if that drains you of your life energy. The happiness you provide to others should reflect joy for you too.
1. Set Clear Boundaries
A close friend asked you to join them for a party because they wanted someone to go with them. You weren’t actually up for it but still agreed. Now you are at a party feeling uncomfortable instead of reading a book at home, as you had planned. This does not give you pleasure, but do you confront your friend?
This is a sign that you need to set clear boundaries and communicate with them. This is not rude. It is you valuing your time and efforts. If you don’t value your time, others will also take it for granted.
You don’t have to be available 24/7 for others. If you have decided to dedicate certain hours of the day to your hobbies, then make it clear that you can’t take calls at that time. If someone is asking for too much, then let them know this is beyond what you would be willing to do. Establishing boundaries will keep it clear to others what to expect from you.
2. Don’t Say “Yes” Right Away
Once you say “Yes” to any request from others, you will feel somewhat obligated to go through with the request. By accepting to help them on impulse, you are not leaving yourself any time to access the favor. On the contrary, you might be putting yourself under a lot of pressure. It may need more time and effort than you had expected. It may also be clashing with some other plan of yours. Consider these things before you dedicate your time to someone else’s request. Instead, take your time to evaluate the request. Ask yourself questions like:
- How much time and effort will it require?
- Do I have enough time to do it?
- Am I suited for such a task?
- Am I doing this because someone asked me to do or does the request align with my interests?
- Will saying “Yes” make me stressed about the added responsibility?
- Am I saying “Yes” to avoid feeling bad and guilty?
Taking the time and considering different aspects of the task can improve your decision-making accuracy. This will ensure that you don’t sign up for favors that will only make you stressed and unhappy. You will make better decisions, reducing the chances of anxiety.
Remember those sweet sugary pills that your mother gave you to calm you down when you scratched an elbow or a knee? You used to feel all well and raring to go! Mothers have a way with kids who keep running into trouble. Scientists and doctors took this a step further...
3. Consider if You’re Being Taken Advantage Of
Some people will always want something from you, but when you ask for help, they will find excuses to avoid helping you. There is also a possibility that some people will come asking for your help, knowing that you will not say “No.” It is vital to steer clear of such people and situations. Pay attention to repeated offenders so you can tackle them accordingly.
Being manipulated into doing things will not only make you distrust everyone. It will also contribute to reducing your self-esteem. You will struggle to put yourself first if people around you are exploiting your kindness. So when approached by someone for a favor, take your time to assess the situation. Think it through and then respond to their request.
If you feel someone is constantly taking advantage of your helpful nature, be firm and distance yourself from them. This will take courage, but you will save yourself from wasted time and discomfort in the long term. A relationship is a two-way street. They require giving and taking. If you are trying to please someone, they should also take steps to return your efforts.
4. Start Saying “No” to Small Requests
The fear that people will see them as rude and inconsiderate if you disagree with their request is common among people-pleasers. Hence, they will try their best to accommodate the opinion and ideas of others over their own. Moving away from this habit altogether can be hard.
If you identify with such traits, you can start by saying no to a film plan you are not interested in. Or you can suggest a restaurant instead of going to your friend’s favorite place for lunch. If you struggle with starting with people you are close to, maybe practice by saying no to a salesperson. Alternatively, you can initiate by saying no over text.
You don’t have to be aggressive when voicing your demands and opinions. Be assertive while being respectful of their point of view. Try and get your point across as clearly as possible. Eventually, reject a bigger request that you are not comfortable with. Don’t try and justify your rejection because of guilt. Be clear about what you want and what you don’t. Convey this politely and move on.
5. Don’t Apologize
Don’t apologize if you didn’t do something wrong. You are not at fault if you can’t make it to a party because of bad weather. Apologizing when you did nothing wrong gives the impression that you are in the wrong. It is an admission of guilt for a crime you never committed.
If someone makes a selfish request and you apologize while turning it down, it justifies their unreasonable and outrageous expectation of you. Not only does throwing away free apologies here and there blame you, but it also diminishes the weight of real apologies. Save your apologies for when you are actually at fault. Remember that you don’t have to take accountability for things that are not your responsibility or in your control.
6. Get Rid of Toxic Relationships
Surround yourself with people who value your time and efforts. People who see your kindness as a genuine quality will contribute to strengthening the relationship. If they are close to you just because you offer some utility, it is time to get rid of them. Dragging toxic relationships will make you more stressed and prevent you from reaching your true potential.
These people will disregard your reasoning in their attempt to get their work done. This can get mentally exhausting for you. Avoid engaging with such people and cut them out of your life. Again, you don’t have to be aggressive. Just be assertive and tell them that you want to focus on your growth. You don’t have to feel guilty about doing this because you will soon realize that they were an obstacle to your self-actualization.
Get Started With a Trusted Therapist on DocVita Today
The change one needs to make is to go from being a people-pleaser to a people-respecter. This requires a change in behavioral patterns. Saying “No” when you have to and disagreeing when you don’t agree with certain things, people or situations. This can be hard to do at first. Furthermore, the process can be complex without proper guidance and help. There is a constant fear of being too upfront and rude in your rejection.
A trained therapist can help you prioritize your self-worth. Speaking up for yourself can be a challenging task for a people-pleaser. Schedule an appointment with our counsellor to help you in your journey. Our healthcare professional will support you in your attempt to prioritize your needs. They will guide you on how to establish healthy boundaries.
Don’t let others take you for granted just because you are afraid of being rude. Instead, give time to healthier relationships. Book an appointment through DocVita, now.