Do you find it almost impossible to say no? Or, is conflict of any kind almost physically painful for you? You may be “people-pleasing.” There are lots of us out there….and we often find ourselves feeling bitter and resentful because we’re tired of being taken advantage of. Yet, we continue to go on in silence. If you think this is you, keep reading….
Typical people-pleasing behaviors:
1. You apologize excessively and people constantly tell you to stop apologizing.
2. You don’t usually take a stance and always agree….with everyone.
3. You can’t remember the last time you said “no.”
4. You avoid conflict at all costs and feel tormented if you think someone is upset with you.
5. You feel responsible for others’ happiness or lack thereof, but suffer in silence if someone has hurt you.
6. Receiving praise is your only measure of self-worth and when you receive criticism, even constructive, you are, in turn, overly critical of yourself.
Risks of people-pleasing behaviors:
1. You don’t release your emotions effectively and this can lead to mental and physical distress in the long run.
2. Others take advantage of you….this tends to happen when you can’t say “no.”
3. No one truly knows “you”, because you hide yourself away out of fear that someone else may disapprove. You may not even know the real “you.”
4. Your ambition is limited because you are too busy trying to please everyone around you. Your goals even become influenced by those around you.
5. You reinforce narcissistic behavior in those around you by making them feel overly important in your quest to be liked.
6. You will always feel inferior to others until you intervene and stop this pattern. People-pleasing stunts the growth of your self-confidence. So, if you’re tired of feeling yourself draw inward when you enter a room, this is a great place to start.
Tips to overcome people-pleasing behaviors:
1. Say “no” to something minor. Starting small is key. If someone asks you to go to lunch last-minute and you would rather eat the lunch you packed, tell them “maybe some other time.”
2. State an opinion. You don’t have to go with the in-your-face approach. Just share your stance or an idea instead of sitting around pretending others’ opinions are the only ones that count.
3. Accept the existence of and work through conflict and negative emotions. This will help you to enjoy the positive ones more fully, because when you’re in the habit of people-pleasing, you don’t truly enjoy “happy” moments. You’re more concerned with how others are enjoying them.
4. Stop giving excuses or explanations every time you make a decision that is different from the outcome the other person wanted. This just seems wishy-washy and it appears that you’re simply making things up to avoid the truth.
5. Don’t apologize for something that isn’t your fault….or for getting in someone’s way. The old-fashioned “excuse me” works fine in these cases. Unnecessary apologies are habit-forming and can become annoying to others (so I’ve been told), which is ironic considering that pleasing others is your goal.
6. Seek therapy. The benefits can’t be stressed enough in this regard. Therapists can offer many tools and coping skills to put a period at the end of this miserable sentence.
If you identify with any of the above, you’re not alone. Don’t continue in silence. People-pleasing can lead you to become bitter and resentful. Try allowing yourself to grow.