Why I Was a People-Pleaser and 5 Practices That Helped Me Stop

people pleaser

For as long as I can remember, I have been a people pleaser. I have prided myself on helping others, on saying yes and never saying no. I go out of my way for people even when it’s inconvenient for me.

For most of my life, this felt like a good thing to me. To be selfless and helpful to everyone. I was making everything around be better, so surely it was the right thing to do.

But then there were the other times.

The times where I felt I acted outside of myself to please someone else and be liked. The times I have done things out of my character, said yes to people who didn’t deserve yes, and went above and beyond to keep the peace.

I never thought about the reason behind this behavior until this year, when a friend asked me for a favor. It was something I had done before for this friend, but it would inconvenience me greatly on this specific day.

I typed out an answer to decline and erased it at least four or five times before I asked myself, why was I so afraid to say no?

Why did I always feel so afraid to say no?

Why did saying no to something I actually could not commit to cause me so much anxiety? Why was I always trying so hard to please everyone around me?

The answer came when I started examining my past, particularly by reviewing the first people in my life, I ever felt the need to please—my parents.

Many of my memories of my parents’ marriage are joyful. They are memories of times we’d go on family vacations, soak up the lovely Irish weather, and go on great adventures.

Then there are the other times.

The times when there would be arguments, there were slammed doors and silent treatments. There were times when it felt like I was walking around on eggshells.

It was in this environment I learned to do whatever it took to keep the peace.

It was in this environment I became what I needed to be— to dissolve stressful situations. It was in this environment I became a people pleaser.

All my life, I never considered the effect growing up in that environment had on me, but suddenly everything became clear. This is where the need to please came from. This is where the part of me that has been so afraid to make any waves came from.

So afraid to upset anyone, so fearful to stand up for myself, so eager to keep the peace.

When I realized this, I finally started to make peace with myself. I made peace with the part of me that wanted everything to be ok and work out as I had planned. I made peace with the part of me that helped everyone to avoid anyone being disappointed.

I made peace and started to let go.

I surrendered control.

It became clear that not everyone will be pleased with me at all times, and that is ok. I can be a source of chaos. I can be the stress of a situation, and that is ok too. Saying ‘no’ won’t make the people in my life judge me, hate me, or leave me.

And if they do, that relationship wasn’t strong enough, to begin with.

When I reflected on my life, I realized that I spent a lot of my time trying to be perfect, trying to fit in, trying to be appreciated and liked by everyone around me.

It became clear just how unhealthy people-pleasing can be. It is disempowering, inauthentic, and extremely time- and energy-consuming.

Here are five simple practices that helped me stop being a people-pleaser.

Allowing Myself To Be Me

I stopped explaining myself for who I am.

If you feel like you’re wearing a mask when among people, I want you to know it is okay to be you. Your perfect imperfections make you special and unique.

Be your own kind of beauty. Stay true to your feelings, opinions, and thoughts. Live your own life, with no apologies and no regrets.

Detaching from other peoples opinion of me

Seeking validation from others turns us into their prisoners.

In reality, we can’t control what other people feel or think, but we are in charge of our own thoughts, feelings, and actions. What other people think of me does not define me. What they see in me is their opinion.

Some might perceive me as smart, funny, and talented. Others might think I’m not. To some, I might be good looking. To others, I might not. It’s all about their standards of beauty or intelligence, and it has nothing to do with me.

I do the best I know and the best I can every day. I love and approve of myself as I am, and other people’s opinion or validation of me is neither required nor needed.

If this rings a bell with you, please know you cannot please everyone, no matter how much you might try. Other people’s opinions of you are nothing but their perception, filtered through their own lenses, expectations, or system of beliefs.

Know you are worthy and beautiful, not because others think so, but because YOU decide to believe it.

Set yourself free from any judgment.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Set healthy boundaries

Saying no doesn’t mean you dislike or reject the other person.

People disappoint themselves with the expectations they set for me and what they expect me to do. It’s always their story. If they love me, they will understand that it’s not a convenient time or request.

I stopped letting anyone take advantage of me.. It is not my responsibility to entertain other people and make them happy. Whenever I offer people time, I give them a piece of my life.

When you set boundaries you quickly realise the people who are truly your friends. Relationships that you need to pretend, or that come with conditions, are toxic.

Spend your precious time with the people who bring out the best in you, who support you, and accept you just the way you are.

Assertive communication

To begin with I found it difficult to say no, because I didn’t know how, I feared that I would sound aggressive or impolite. But I learnt to say no without offending anyone.

Here are some simple formulas that always work well for me:

Thank you for thinking of me, I’m sorry I can’t at this time.
I’m not able to make it this Sunday/this week/month/year.
Perhaps another time, I’m busy at the moment.
I have commitments, but please let me know how it turns out.
No thank you, but it sounds lovely.
It doesn’t work for me right now.
I’ve got too much on my plate, maybe another time?

Become my own best friend.

Now I pay attention to my self-talk. I aim to eliminate disempowering words or thoughts like: “They might think less of me,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’m a failure,”

I treat myself with dignity and respect. I talk to myself kindly. I don’t call myself names and I acknowledge myself for my achievements, for my willingness to learn and grow.

I take compliments gracefully instead of putting myself down, as if I’m unworthy of such a celebration. I enjoy when people compliment me but I am not dependent on them to feel good about myself.

“It’s not your job to like me; it’s mine.” ~ Byron Katie

Key Lesson from Jesus

When you read about Jesus in the Gospels, yes he helped the poor and healed the sick, BUT, He also spent a lot of his time praying on His own. That’s were all His power came from— Solitude with God.

Yes, it’s good to help people, but like Jesus, we also need to take time for ourselves to relax and unwind. When we help others, it takes a lot of energy, and if you are always helping, one day it will become too much. At some point, you will run out of energy and not be able to help.

Don’t wait until you’re burned out to discover— “the people that say they are dependant on you, will manage if you’re not available.”

Thanks for reading.

Enjoy your week.

If my post helped you in any way, please comment or share. Thanks.

Why You Never Have Enough Time

nor enough time

Do you ever feel like you haven’t got enough time? Like you’re rushing from one thing to the next.

Do you want to know the reason why you’re always late for things?

Well, you’re not alone, most humans are terrible at planning and poor judges of how long things will take.

If you get a text that says, “be there in two minutes,” that usually means 10. If they say, “running 15 minutes late,” that means 30.

Now obviously this is your friend trying to soften the blow, and potentially saving face, but why were they running late in the first place?

Well, a high proportion of people don’t plan for the unplannable.

As a person that was always late, I now know why I was. In my head, it only takes 5 minutes to get my coat, wallet and keys. But in reality, it takes me 15; my keys are not where I thought I left them, or anywhere for that matter.

keys

I start to stress, and stress leads me not to think clearly. Then I remember that I left my keys in my other jacket.

I jump into the car and traffic seems to pop out of nowhere, I pull in and text a friend and let them know I’m going to be late. The reply, “it’s ok; you always are.”

The takeaway from all this, plan for the unexpected. If you have to be at an appointment at 11 am, and it usually takes you 15 minutes to get there. Don’t leave at 10:45 am.

Plan to leave at 10:15. Then if you have misplaced your keys, wallet, or another item that is essential to your trip you have plenty of time to look for it.

Unexpected things will come up, and it’s better to be ready for them. Allowing that 30 minutes extra is often essential if you want to be there on time.

That is what my experience has taught me.

You think it will be like X, but in reality, it’s like Y. There will be things that you didn’t plan for. And that’s precisely why you need to prepare for them events. Most people don’t.

That’s why you should not take on every engagement, project or task that you think you can do. Problems will arise and giving yourself space for them problems limits stress and rushing.

Will they always happen, of course not but it’s better to be ready than for one little problem to snowball into you being late for the remainder of the day, or in some cases much longer.

buffer

Buffer time is something that has helped me a lot in my personal and work life. The time that I add to remove stress and frustration from my day. (The mind works so much more efficiently when it is calm and relaxed.)

For one, travel always takes longer than you think, so getting to the airport an hour early, and to our business engagement 15 minutes early removes a lot of stress.

The risk of missing your flight, making your friends wait, or losing a reservation isn’t worth a few minutes it takes to plan. The worst-case scenario is that you wait a few minutes when you get there.

And if a friend, work colleague, or Google maps tells you it’s going to take 20 minutes to get there, and you leave 20 minutes for your journey, you’re probably going to be late.

You’re going to hit a few red lights, some traffic, and then have to park your car and walk to the restaurant, and there is always that person or persons, at the airport, that pack all their liquids into their carry on case.

The point is there is always going to be things that you can’t plan for, that will come up.

yes no

Also, when you say YES too often, it limits the amount of time that you have for yourself.

I’m all for helping people but if you help everyone someone is going to lose, and that person will be you.

The reason, you’re not going to have any buffer time. You’re going to be so busy wrapped up and helping others you’ll put your needs to last, leading to being stressed and frustrated that you never seem to have time for yourself.

That’s why you need to plan.

Plan everything that you would like to do; the things that are essential for your health and well-being. Then with a time that’s left allocate as your free time, as the time that you can give freely.

Summary
The idea here is— it’s not just about being late; it’s about the things that you say yes to. It’s about better planning. So if meeting a friend for lunch means that you are going to be rushing to an appointment or meeting. Then avoid it.

Let your friend know why you can’t meet them, why you have to put it off until another time. A good friend will see your point of view and agree with your decision.

Most of us are in debt when it comes to time.

But when you are selective about allocating your time, when you think twice before saying yes. You will start to feel much less rushed, you will begin to feel more relaxed, and you will have much more time for the essential things that make you happy.

Have a good week.