It’s not easy to stop people-pleasing. Most of the time we are totally unconscious of the fact that we are even people-pleasing to begin with.
As a recovering people pleaser, this topic is near and dear to my heart. So if you’ve ever done something you didn’t want to do out of a feeling of obligation or guilt— or if you have a hard time saying no, this article is for you.
The Problem With Being a People Pleaser
While people pleasing might seem harmless from the outside— after all, you’re just trying to be a keep the peace or not rock the boat.
The truth is that 99% of the time when you engage in people-pleasing behaviors you’re actually abandoning your own needs.
You’re sacrificing your own well-being in order to keep others happy, and frankly, that’s not ok.
Most likely when you were little, you were taught to not be selfish. To think of others and treat them the way you want to be treated.
We think that by putting other people first we are living this truth. That we are being un-selfish and kind.
While that’s generally true, we can still be an un-selfish and empathetic person without being a people pleasers.
It is not selfish to put your well-being first — you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Plus, if you continuously put someone else’s needs above your own you will eventually become resentful toward them, even if it’s on a subconscious level.
Entering The Recovering People Pleaser Stage
When you’ve been a people pleaser for the majority of your life, it’s not easy to stop.
You’ve spent so many hours building the habit of managing the perception of others and taking on more than necessary. You’ve left yourself by the wayside, so you’ll need to find yourself again.
By putting your own needs at the center you take back the control of your life.
So how do you do this? We’ll it starts with setting healthy boundaries.
What are boundaries?
Boundaries are the limits we set with ourselves around what we will or will not tolerate in our lives.
Boundaries are simply creating the line between what is okay vs. what is not okay.
You might have never even thought of where your boundaries are — but you can easily identify when a boundary has been crossed when you feel hurt, taken advantage of, or depleted by your interactions with someone.
So how do you establish boundaries?
Step One: Awareness
In order to set boundaries, you need to be self-aware, meaning you need to know yourself.
You need to understand what you truly think about something. This might be harder than it sounds if you’ve been a people pleaser.
When you’ve been putting other people’s needs above your own you often forget to ask yourself how you feel about something because you’re so worried about what everyone else is feeling.
Taking the time to ask yourself what you truly want out of a situation or how you want to spend your time can make all the difference.
This is key in setting boundaries because the boundaries are there to protect others from inhibiting you to live the life that you want to live.
Step Two Communication:
Once you know what you’ve cultivated some self-awareness around your boundaries it’s time to communicate them.
This will 100% feel awkward at first, especially when you start saying no to things — but at the same time, it’s going to feel extremely freeing.
When you start speaking your truth it’s like a weight is lifted from your shoulders.
There are many ways that setting boundaries can be communicated, it all depends on the situation.
For example, if someone asks you to do something that you don’t want to do, you don’t have to tell them specifically that you don’t want to do it because it’s a boundary, you can simply say “Thanks for thinking of me but I am not available” or “Thanks but I can’t”
You don’t have to over-explain why you don’t want to do something. You don’t have to justify yourself.
On the other hand, if you’re setting a boundary with a person who is behaving in a way that is crossing the line, you might need a little more explanation.
For example, if you have a roommate that is constantly doing something that has an effect on your life, like not washing their dishes, sleeping on the couch, etc.
You could ask them to refrain from that behavior and explain that it’s affecting you. This helps them see that their behavior has negative repercussions for others, and many times they will change because they didn’t see it from your point of view before.
Remember, if you don’t communicate your needs, no one will know what they are.