How can you tell if someone is a people-pleaser? They’re typically the nicest, most generous people you know (disclaimer, not all kind people are people-pleasers, but some of us are). They never refuse a request and are always willing to volunteer their time and energy.
Need help moving? They’ll come early, help you pack up, move boxes all day, and stay late. Need an early ride to the airport? Look no further. *As with all my posts, these thoughts are based on my own experiences and may differ from your own. If you have anything to add, I’d love to hear from you!
People-pleasers are often motivated by one of two things (or sometimes both). Their behaviour is generally rooted in either fear of rejection or fear of failure. Fear of rejection stems from being afraid of getting left behind if they make a mistake or do something wrong. They work hard to be helpful and valuable to others. They try to keep the peace. Fear of failure stems from being afraid to disappoint others or the fear that others will view them negatively. They work hard to live up to impossibly high standards and feel validated by the positive attention of others. As a recovering people-pleaser, I wanted to share a few things I’ll be working on this year.
1. I will speak up for myself.
I’ve always prioritized keeping the peace at the expense of my own comfort and peace of mind. My default is to avoid confrontation. But if something makes me uncomfortable, I will say something. Speaking up honestly takes a lot of courage but it’s something I need to do. I won’t allow myself to be taken advantage of again.
2. I will actively combat stress.
Holding onto stress isn’t healthy and I’ve personally paid the price for this one. If I find myself overwhelmed, I will find one obligation to cancel, then use that time to take care of myself: to cook a healthy meal, do a workout, or enjoy some reading. I’m still working on creating a balanced schedule for myself.
3. I will enforce my boundaries.
I had a huge wake-up call this past August. You can read about it here if you’d like. I realized that I’m the one who is responsible for how I allow others to treat me. If someone takes advantage of me once, that’s their fault. But if it continues to happen, and I don’t say anything, it becomes my fault. You can’t expect someone to respect you if you don’t have respect for yourself. I’ve written down my boundaries and will enforce them.
4. I will say no more often.
It’s always easier to say yes. You avoid the inevitable ‘why not’ or guilt trips. But I need to start saying no more often. When someone invites me somewhere or asks for a favour, I always tell them that I need to think about it. That relieves the pressure to make a decision right away. Then I’ll take some time to mull over the options. Am I doing this because I want to? Am I trying to avoid disappointing someone? Do I have the energy? Am I even interested? Saying no can be scary, but its for my own benefit.
5. I’ll give myself a time limit.
I love helping people and its something I never want to stop doing. But volunteering for an entire day leaves me burned out, exhausted, and barely able to drag myself home. In the future, if someone needs my help, and I’m able to do it, I’ll let them know I’m available for a set amount of time. If the deadline arrives and I feel great, I’ll extend my stay, but will keep a close watch on my energy. I also like volunteering for setup duty, as I’m free to leave once things start to get busy.
Being generous and helpful is a wonderful thing. But I’ve experienced the health issues that come from internalizing stress and taking on more than I could handle. By caring for myself, I’ll be able to serve others at a greater capacity. Helping others should never come at the expense of anyone’s health, relationships, or happiness.
Have you had any similar experiences or insights?