Like I mentioned in my previous blog post, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. One of the things I’ve been reading a lot of is self-help pieces. There’s a lot I want to work on, and I have a lot of habits that have been with me for as long as I can remember, and haven’t served me well. Amongst other things, what I’m working on this year is trying to ditch them, and hopefully for good.
One of those destructive habits is people pleasing. The need to put everyone one else’s happiness and satisfaction before my own is something I’ve struggled with for a very long time. When you’ve done something for so long that it’s become such a big part of who you are, it’s hard to just stop, even when you realise it isn’t doing you any good.
I want to share a few tips I’ve read that may help anyone who struggles with this, as well as my own experiences.
It’s important to realise that it’s okay to say no to people. Sometimes it’s easy to feel trapped with no way out. Saying that word terrifies some people, and agreeing to things you don’t want to agree to seems a lot easier than dealing with people’s disappointment and frustration, which are often magnified by overthinking. ‘No’ isn’t a bad word, and you’re not a bad person for it.
What’s equally important is to stop being so damn apologetic. When people pleasers turn someone down, this is often accompanied by a litany of apologies because they feel bad about it, even if the plus is that they put themselves first. Apologising only reinforces the idea that saying no and staying true to yourself and what you want is wrong. Why should you have to apologise for doing what’s best for you?
I can recall multiple situations in my life where I was a master of people-pleasing. Those kind of interactions always left me feeling like I wasn’t in control of my own life and not strong enough to be authentic. When you feel that way long enough, feelings of resentment and frustration grow.
A few days ago, I turned down a business order that was made by a woman I’ve always gone out of my way to please. She wanted some products in a few days, and I had a lot on my plate and was feeling very overwhelmed. The thought of typing the message to let her know, and suggesting a different date, scared me. Regardless, I did it – and it felt really good. It may seem like a small thing, but it was a really proud moment and I was ready to tell anyone and everyone about it. I want to work on having more of those feel-good moments where I put myself first and do it loudly, proudly and unapologetically.
There are only so many self-help pieces you can read and mantras you can recite, trying to recall everything when you feel that habit rear its ugly head again. At some point, I’ve found that it helps to just clear your mind and bite the bullet.
I titled this “Breaking Free” because all of this is a journey to freeing myself from the weight of people’s expectations and opinions. Typing all of this and sharing it felt really good, and I hope it helps someone out there.
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