Stop being a people pleaser

Coffee at Zio Mario in May

I’m a recovering people pleaser.

It’s only in recent years that I realised I was a people pleaser. It’s something I’ve done for years and it’s not healthy. I know I’m not alone with this either and that’s why I want to touch on the subject today.

Do you have trouble saying no to people?
Do you sacrifice your own wants and needs in order to please others?
Are you afraid of letting people down?

If you agree with the statements above then like me, you’re probably a people pleaser.

At first, it doesn’t sound like a very bad thing. I mean, it’s fantastic to be a good, kind and supportive person, actually, I’d say it’s essential in life. But there’s a big difference between being a decent person and being a people pleaser.

When you’re a people pleaser you find yourself saying yes to something you don’t really want to do and then immediately regretting it. You don’t want to let people down and you find it hard to say no. You put other people’s wants and needs before your own. Ultimately you’re probably doing these things to gain approval, for love or simply with the hope that people will like you.

This can affect many different areas of your life. It could be related to your friendship group, your career, your family or many other situations. For myself, I’ve noticed that a lot of the time my confidence has been determined by the approval of others. That’s quite sad, isn’t it? Your confidence should come from within and that’s why self-awareness is so important. Take time to learn about who you are, what you’re good at and what you enjoy. It’s important to avoid being who others want you to be.

You can’t just put your foot down and quit being a people pleaser. It takes a long time to change your people pleasing habits but it’s not impossible. Start by making little changes.

The way I began to tackle this was by becoming more mindful. I learnt to say no and started thinking about what I wanted from my life and what made me happy. Next time someone asks you to go out clubbing or for an evening meal say you’ll check your diary. Get back to them when you’ve had a chance to think about things. This allows you to digest the idea and make a firm decision on taking part. If you fancy going along then sure, send a text and make plans. But if not, you can simply say you can’t make it. Alternatively, you could re-arrange for a lunch or coffee date later in the week. I much prefer meeting up with friends during the day instead of going out in the evening and that’s fine.

I’d also recommend working hard towards saying how you feel and not what you think someone wants you to say. Most importantly, stop putting other people’s needs before your own. I’ve done this on too many occasions. At uni I’d go out to clubs even though I hated it. I didn’t have a fear of missing out on the evenings antics but I did have a fear of letting people down. My friends would get upset or annoyed if I didn’t want to go to some club for the third night in a row. So off I’d trot just to keep everyone happy even though it didn’t make me happy.

Don’t ask ‘how high’ when your boss says ‘jump’ and don’t do things just to make someone else happy when it’s going to make you unhappy. Ultimately it will make you become a target. People will exploit and take advantage of you, especially in the work place but equally so in friendship groups. Being that one person in the office who will say yes to anything won’t get you the promotion you’re hoping for. I’ve ended up on many Starbucks runs because of my people pleasing ways (leaving my own work to be done during my lunch hour).

Live your life for you and of course, be a good egg along the way. There are many occasions where we do things for other people to help them out or just to be a good friend. That’s not being a people pleaser, that’s being a decent human being. The key aim is to stop living your life for other people and understand that it’s ok to have boundaries, it’s fine to have your own goals and interests and it’s perfectly fine to say no.

So stop sacrificing your own needs for other people.

Keep your goals at the front of your mind and make your decisions in line with them. Focus on building upon your self awareness and learn to say no. If you have any questions about this topic or simply fancy a chat then please leave a comment below or drop me a message on Twitter.