If you’ve realized that you’ve somehow lost yourself in people-pleasing, you might be thinking it’s time to stop (if you haven’t, read my article about why you should stop people-pleasing here!). Time to regain control of your life, and start living it focusing on people that matter: you and your family.
If you’re anything like me, and have a lot of trouble saying “no” to people (and trust me, I have a lot of trouble doing this…), then you might think that it’s beyond your reach to stop.
As it’s something I’ve been struggling with for years myself, I’ve written down three things that help me the most. Here they are, just for you!
1 – Set boundaries
By setting clear boundaries, even if it’s just with yourself at first, will be a huge help. You’ll be clear on what you accept to do for others, and what is taking it too far.
The boundaries can be anything, from what you accept to do, to when you accept to do it.
Perhaps you’re fine with helping out a colleague figure out Excel, but sorting his emails is too far.
Or perhaps you’re fine with helping him out for an hour, but after that he’s on his own, and you get back to your own job.
These are workplace examples, but it’s imortant to set boundaries in the other aspects of your life as well.
Perhaps you have issues with family member dropping by to see the kids whenever they feel like it, or with a friend who expects you to drop everything for them the moment they need you.
Set boundaries that work for you, and then stick to them.
2 – Say “no”
This builds on the first point. Once you’ve set clear boundaries (“I’ll help Paul for an hour today, then I get back to work”), the next step is to say “no”.
And this may be very painful for some of you (it is for me… Come here and I’ll give you a hug, my no-naysayer friend!), but it’s necessary.
I believe people-pleasing goes deep, and at first it’s unnatural for those of us who are People Pleasers to go against it. But at the same time, if you don’t, it’ll end up eating you.
So practice saying “no”. When Paul comes up to you after you’ve helped him for an hour, asking you for help with something else, politely decline.
You can be very nice here, no need to be mean or rude! Just say something along the lines of:
“I’m so sorry Paul, I’ve got a lot on my plate and I just can’t spare any more time right now. Maybe someone else can help? Otherwise, I can maybe come over tomorrow.”
Offer alternatives. Here, you tell him to ask someone else, which is great! This way, if someone else helps him, you might not have to deal with this issue again!
Once more, we’re not trying to be mean or rude, and it’s great to help if and when you can. But just don’t let it overtake you.
So practice saying “no”. In front of a mirror, in the car on the way to work, whatever you need! But do it, and get comfortable with it.
3 – Get clear on your goals
This is going to help you keep to your new, non-people-pleasing habits.
By setting goals, and being clear on why you want to stop people-pleasing in the first place, you’ll have an objective. Something clear pulling you forward, keeping you from sinking back into the people-pleasing abyss.
For example, my goal is to start my own business. I’ve got ambitious goals for it, and in order to achieve them, I need to focus on me and my business. I need to stop worrying about what everybody is going to think or say about me. To stop trying to please everybody and put them ahead of me.
Having this goal so clearly in my mind (I even printed out a pretty graph for it and put it above my desk, so I see it all the time!) keeps me on track.
In the end
I believe people-pleasing is a double-edged sword. On one side, people who are People Pleasers have a tendency to think that they’re only being kind and empathetic. And to a certain degree, they are.
But they’re going too far. I was going too far.
There’s nothing wrong with putting yourself and your family first. After all, all the others are!
Making the decision to stop people-pleasing does NOT mean that you’re making the decision to stop being kind, or generous, or empathetic.
It simply means that you’re going to do it consciously and with meaning. To be picky about who you do it for, when you do it and why you’re doing it.
So what about you? Is people-pleasing an issue for you? Do you want to stop? Or is it something you like about yourself, and wouldn’t change for the world?
Let me know in the comments, I’d really love to know!
In the meantime, take care!
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