Most of us are people pleasers to some degree or another. It’s part of being human. But it can steal our peace of mind when it’s taken to levels that aren’t healthy.
Jim Rohn once said, “Learn how to say no, Don’t let your mouth overload your back.”
Yet this was the world I lived in for more years than I can remember. I couldn’t say no. My mouth overloaded my back.
How did I learn this inability to say no? I don’t know. But wherever it came from, it was there. And today I understand it to be an emotional need that I couldn’t quite pinpoint. Though if insisted upon, I would probably pick the need to be liked.
Anyway, if you, too, go out of your way to be helpful and ‘kind’ and consistently say yes, even when you’re overloaded, it sounds like you may have some people pleasing tendencies.
Of course, doing nice things for others isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. But when this behavior causes you to disregard your needs and feelings and take on more projects than you genuinely want or can manage, that’s when problems arise. And that’s no way to experience greater peace of mind.
What separates us people pleasers from those with more healthy behaviors is that after the fact, there’s often a tendency to feel cornered or stuck in doing something we don’t want to do.
If you feel this way more often than you’d like, it’s a good indicator that you made a wrong choice. And, like me, you are predisposed to give your power and peace of mind away.
So what can be done about it?
Avoid being pressured in the moment
Time is your ally. Use it wisely. It’s a big mistake to give an immediate ‘yes,’ which is the usual response of the people pleasers of the world. So take a moment before responding because it’s much easier to turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’ than it is to turn a ‘yes’ into a ‘no.’ However, it is helpful to remember that saying ‘yes’ in and of itself isn’t bad, especially if helping others is a joyful energy for you to dwell in. At the same time, a little more balance is necessary for health, well-being, and greater respect for yourself and your time.
The following can help with that.
Renew your self-concept and avoid the people pleasing trap
As a people pleaser constantly confronted by the inability to say no, you lose sight of your own needs, values, and beliefs about who you are. After all, you’ve been so busy acceding to the requests of others, how could you have the time to pay attention to yourself?
And so I challenge you to create a new, more potent concept of yourself. Your self-concept is essential to your ability to stand firm in the wake of powerful people pleasing tendencies. And a stronger self-concept helps you establish within yourself a belief in the right for your own needs, desires, and goals to flourish and bloom.
Life changes from the inside out. Change the inner you and the outer you will follow, and you’ll then find that as you validate yourself for the being you are, there’s no longer such an overwhelming need to seek validation from others.
Peace of mind follows when you become true to yourself by practicing your ability to say yes to yourself and allow yourself to say no to others more often than might be comfortable for you.
Be true to you
Being true to yourself is a critical to overcoming your people pleasing tendencies. You have as much right to please yourself as you do to please others. And it’s essential for your peace of mind to take responsibility for your happiness and fulfillment by pursuing things that bring you joy.
By all means, say yes when you sincerely want to. But do test your limits. You’ll never know what you’re capable of if you always stick with your usual pattern of people pleasing behavior. And do yourself a favor if you’re ready to overcome those past tendencies – start small.
It’s hard to change old habits. Even those that, in the end, leave you feeling frustrated and resentful. Use the stalling for time tactic with that old standby, “Let me get back to you on that.”
Final thoughts on overcoming people pleasing tendencies
Give yourself a little time to avoid that immediate pressure to say yes, and as you change the way you see yourself, you will help make that happen with greater ease and comfort.
You’ll find that greater peace of mind always follows being true to yourself. And don’t forget to add a little gratitude to the mix. The key here is to notice the little things. No matter how small, choosing the energy of appreciation nudges your awareness into a more peaceful state of mind.
My wish for all the people pleasers out there is that you find ways to make this habit a thing of the past, and I do know this isn’t easy. I’ve still got the tiger of people pleasing by the tail, but I manage it much better than I ever did.
Any of these strategies could support you in taking small but consistent steps towards more healthy boundaries. That’s when you’ll be more able to truly listen to your inner self, embrace your authenticity and regain your peace of mind.
Encourage one another.