People Pleasing 101

Are you kind to everyone you meet? Would people describe you as big-hearted? That is not equivalent to being a people pleaser. Do you sometimes accommodate others even though you’d rather not? That still might not be enough to classify you as a people pleaser. 

No, a people pleaser is someone who does not have the luxury of choice. It becomes a lifestyle. People-pleasing becomes compulsive. People pleasers say yes to everything and everyone because they are incapable of saying no. 

Everyone wants to feel safe, accepted and loved. It’s written in our DNA because humans are social creatures. We form communities, and we always have, so we have evolved to seek acceptance from others. Unfortunately, people pleasers figure out that the most effective way to find acceptance is to allow someone else’s wants, wishes, and desires to precede their own. It’s fine at first because it’s working. 

We experience less conflict, so everything must be great, right? The only problem is that external conflict dissipates while internal conflict builds. 

It goes on too long. At some point, you’re known as someone who says yes to everything and trying to redraw your boundaries is stressful. You feel guilty about every “no” you say and worry about upsetting or disappointing people. Sometimes, you have to choose between yourself and everything else. 

People-pleasing is denying yourself and your needs to accommodate everyone else’s. You’re a nice person, but you’re hurting yourself in a bid to serve others. There’s a good chance you’re stressed out, exhausted, and overworked. This might take a toll on your health, both mental and physical. You’re running out of time and energy and approaching breaking point. 

You can help others without harming yourself. 

  • You Come First 

Your needs should always be met first. If you do it the other way around, you will never have the time or energy to address your needs. It’s okay to make yourself a priority. If someone requests you, you can explain that you have some things to do for yourself right now. It’s all about setting and enforcing limits, thus prioritising yourself. You have to recharge your batteries. 

  • Have a Schedule 

Think of your time like you do your finances. Just as you sit down and create a budget, you can create a schedule of your time. What time do you need for yourself? What time do you need for tasks, errands, and responsibilities, and what is left over? When someone asks for your help, you can consult your schedule. 

Just as you do with time, you can also budget energy. Do you have the power to undertake this request? Don’t overwork yourself just because you feel bad. 

  • Delay your agreement 

Don’t feel compelled to agree to something or someone immediately. A typical people-pleasing response is to decide to realise later that it’s impossible immediately. Giving yourself time and space to check your schedule gives you room to consider whether you want to or can help out. 

  • Just Say No 

While some say sorry is the most complex word, no is often just as tricky. At least, it is where people-pleasers are concerned. When you say no, do not feel as though you have to offer a justification. There is no need to provide an explanation or an excuse. Learning to say “No, I can’t do that” is an excellent way for people-pleasers to reestablish their boundaries. 

If that sounds like the scariest thing you have ever heard, then you can practice with explanations and work up to a flat no. Remember, the more of an explanation you offer, the more accessible others will find it to talk you into it. If you must explain, be as vague as possible to give yourself space.