So this week’s edition of Monday Musings is something I really need to work on… the big PP – people pleasing. My question is this: what is the correct balance of pleasing other people, and pleasing yourself?
I’m really struggling with this right now. I’ve always wanted others to think the best of me, to see me as the caring, hard-working, loyal person that I am. I know I really shouldn’t care about what others think of me, but it’s something that I’ve always, and probably will always, struggled with. I make decisions on how the majority will see me, not the minority. And I have to nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand and causes issues with the ones I love.
Being the more traditionalist that I am, I consider me to be S and I. I know I’m an individual, and I can live without him (not that I want to!) but I’m having a hard time with pleasing us versus pleasing them. It’s happened before… the extra hours I’ve stayed unnecessarily at work because people were relying on me and I missed the first hour of that family picnic. It’s getting worse, especially since I haven’t found the best way to say no. How do I distinguish what I should do? I know, it should be easy – I should do what’s best for us. But sometimes that line is fuzzy.
So, I turned to google for some quick help, and actually found a wikiHow article on How to Stop Being a People Pleaser. So for those of you who are a PP like I am, here are they steps they suggest on how to make things easier.
- Think of five times when you did or said something that did not truly reflect your wants and needs, in order to please someone else. Write them down. For each of these occasions, imagine how you would have handled it differently – to please yourself! What is the worst that could have happened? Write down your worst fears.
- Look at your fears. Are they realistic? Are they truly terrible? You might be afraid that no one will like you, that someone will leave you, or that you will be left all alone if you don’t say the right thing. That is a prison you have trapped yourself in, and it’s time to unlock the doors and walk out! The people around you may be used to your compliance, but if they’re not willing to accept that you have your own needs, are they really worth having in your life?
- Examine your ability to set limits on others. Examine your boundaries. Where are they? What is acceptable behavior for you and what is unacceptable? Do you tolerate the intolerable? Normalize the abnormal? Accept the unacceptable? Do you know what it feels like to be treated with dignity and respect? Learn how to identify and label unacceptable treatment from others and how to set limits on their behavior when they violate your boundaries.
- Consider the source. Many people pleasers were raised in environments wherein their needs and feelings were pushed aside/not considered. Were you always expected to anticipate, and to mold yourself to, everyone else’s needs? Did you learn that the only way to receive a positive response was to do what others wanted you to do? If so, here’s a newsflash: Not all the world wants a pushover. By focusing on pleasing others, you open yourself up to manipulation and abuse. You will never reach your potential as an individual if you constantly hide behind others’ expectations.
- Stop basing your self-worth on how much you do for other people. It’s noble to want to help others, but it’s something you should do because you want to, not because you feel you have to. The greatest acts of kindness are those done by choice, not out of fear or guilt. If you’re doing things for others because you would feel bad if you didn’t, is the action really genuine? Would you want others to help you under those terms? And, if you’re helping others to such an extent that you are neglecting yourself, is that really wise?
- Learn how to say “no.” Don’t make up excuses – give your reasons for not wanting something. Start small – find something small to say “no” to, but say it firmly. Say it politely, but mean it! You’ll be surprised; the world will not collapse around your ears! People rarely take offense, and those that do aren’t worth pleasing.
- Ask for what you want. If everybody’s going to the movies, and most people in the group want to see a particular movie, but you’d rather watch something else, speak up! There’s nothing wrong with voicing your opinion, and it doesn’t have to mean you’re making a demand. Simply reminding people that you’re an individual with your own preferences is a big step forward. Even asking someone to help you do something will help. Ultimately, you must remember that no one can read your mind. If you feel that you do so much for others, but they don’t do anything for you, maybe it’s because you don’t express your needs or desires. It’s not fair to make people pry an answer from you. If they ask you what you want, or if there’s a decision being made, put in your opinion, and let that be that.
- Do something for yourself. Do one thing you have been wanting to do, but are afraid someone else will not like. Dye your hair, get that new look, have a treat that you enjoy, go on holiday….whatever you do, do it for yourself, and practice not worrying what anyone else thinks about it. Don’t get caught up in doing things just because no one else wants you to do them. Remember that there ought to be things that you truly want to do for yourself, regardless of what anyone else thinks, not in spite of it. Other people’s opinions are a factor in our lives, but they should not be the determining factor.
- Compromise. While it’s not good to be a pushover, it’s no better to be a manipulative bully or a reckless rebel. Don’t become totally selfish. In fact, many people pleasers have low self-esteem. So do those who are selfish. It is best to develop good self-care skills, which include healthy assertiveness skills. You can listen to others, but ultimately, what you do is your choice. Keep a balance! Sometimes the needs of other people should come first. Whenever there’s a conflict of desires, try to come up with a solution that will meet both desires halfway, or better yet, a “win-win” situation where both sides get even more than they bargained for.
- Also,you could keep in mind that, no matter how bad your flaws are, you are beautiful and unique on the inside and out.
My biggest issues are #7 and #9. I really don’t ever ask for what I want, for fear that someone will not like what I choose. Ha, the easiest, and most common, example is what S and I will eat for dinner. Sometimes, I really want Mexican. While it’s not his food of choice, I know he’ll usually go if I suggest it (or, he’ll say, not tonight, but this weekend). But I don’t say it sometimes. Why? I don’t know. Because I’m silly! And #9 only in the sense that I’m a push-over. I feel extreme guilt when I don’t do something for someone else, even if it’s as little as giving the guy on the corner some spare change. Baby steps!
I figure I should post a picture after all of this “me bashing”, to show what a great time I had at the game yesterday with some of the girls I advise!
Day 1 of the Scarsdale diet started today. And, I’m going to pick up my bathing suit bottom tonight from a store that has it in stock!