Overcoming People-Pleasing

I can’t tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.
Ed Sheeran

Penny, the people-pleaser will say, do, and be whoever you want her to be. She’s like a chameleon that takes on the color of whom she is with at the moment. Penny just wants you to love her, adore her, and give her credit for all her selfless devotion, all the while resenting who you have made her become. She avoids conflict and confrontation at any cost as to not upset anyone. Penny feels guilty for saying “no” when asked to do something for someone else.

On some rare occasions when she does say no, she over-apologizes and usually comes up with a long story about why she can’t. Penny has no idea what she likes or dislikes. Poor Penny watches what other people do and tries to mimic them. You mentioned you’ve always wanted a pool, next morning you’ll wake up to the sound of Penny operating a bulldozer, it’s only 6:00 a.m. and it’s half dug. You might even hear her say, “Oh sure I’d love to clean up your baby’s vomit and all the dog crap in your backyard.”

People-pleasers do everything for everyone and nothing for themselves. Penny and I are not alone in this struggle. All the clients I have worked with, have struggled to overcome some form of people-pleasing. The problem most of us have is we spent so much time doing for others and have never taken a chance to get to know who we are real. If we take even half of the time, we’ve spent trying to make everyone else happy and give some of the time to ourselves, our happiness, serenity, and health will skyrocket. Finding our voice, learning how to make our choices, and decisions can be confusing at first.

The first step on this journey is learning how to say, “NO, NADA, NIET, NEIN, ZILCH” to all requests and demands asked of us and “YES” to our well-being. Yes to our happiness, yes to finding new hobbies, yes to taking that class we’ve always wanted to attend, and yes to the most excruciating yes—accepting help from others! If we continue down this path, we will learn we are just as important as everyone else on this earth, and our wants and needs are important too.

Tools to Overcome People-Pleasing

1. Make a list of times you had said “yes” when you wanted to say “no.” Practice saying to the next five people who want you to do something, “Oh, thank you for asking me, and I am unable to.”

2. Note to self - “N. O. is a complete sentence. Write on your mirror, computer, refrigerator, and your forehead “NO Means NO!” These notes are for you to remember, not everyone else.

3. Second note to self - Explaining is draining! We don’t have to come up with excuses for why we can’t or have to explain why.

4. People-pleaser are always apologizing for taking up too much space. Pay attention to how many times you say, “I’m sorry” in a day.  Try not to say, “I’m sorry,” for the next twenty-four hours. Remember, you have the right to breathe as much air as you want!

5. Get to know yourself by making a list of people, places and things
you like. Instead of saying, “yes” to all the demands people are asking of you, spend time doing something just for yourself.

P.S. "You Do Matter!"

Question: What has been helpful for you to overcome people-pleasing? I'd love to hear your comments below!


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