Do you think you might be a people pleaser? Is it having an impact on your life? In this post I talk about the things to look out for which might indicate you’re a people pleaser, and how you can consider addressing it.
What is a ‘people pleaser’?
One of the most common elements is if you find it hard to say “no” to people and the thought of doing so brings up difficult emotions.
The prospect of saying no might cause you to feel anxious. You might worry that you’ll disappoint the other person or be letting them down. Even if the thing you’re considering doing might put you at a disadvantage, you may push that fact aside and agree to do it anyway in order to alleviate difficult emotions.
Other elements of being a people pleaser might include:
- avoiding conflict with others by agreeing with what they say, even though you may have a different opinion.
- apologising to people, even though they might actually be the ones in the wrong.
- finding it hard to tolerate if someone is annoyed or angry with you – you may feel this reflects on you as a person.
How being a ‘people pleaser’ can impact you
Being unable to say “no” may leave you feeling angry and resentful if you take on projects that you don’t really have the time to do. However, the anxiety at the thought of saying “no” may outweigh your own need to look after yourself.
You may end up taking on more things than you can really manage, for example, at work. This could lead to fatigue and even burnout.
Feeling overloaded at work may effect how much you are able to enjoy your life outside of work. You may feel too tired to socialise with others or even to do other forms of self-care such as exercising or eating a balanced diet.
You might feel resentful towards others if you feel “put upon” by them and you’re not able to say no.
People might come to expect that you will be able to do whatever they ask of you, which may lead to you putting more pressure on yourself to say yes.
Things to remind yourself of, if you’re a ‘people pleaser’
It can be difficult to break out of the cycle of people pleasing. However, once you’re aware of it happening you can be more prepared for when it comes up again. Here are some things to bear in mind which you might find helpful:
- If the prospect of saying “no” is generating difficult emotions, ask yourself why? How will saying “yes” affect you? Will it mean you taking on too much work? Will it mean attending something you don’t want to go to? Is there a detrimental impact on you by saying “yes”?
- If you don’t want to say “yes” then think about ways you can say “no” which feel more comfortable for you. It doesn’t always have to be an outright “no” as a response. Perhaps it might be that you can’t do X “at the moment”, but could do at a later date when you have more time. Or, that you can do X, but would need someone else to do Y. The point is that there are different ways of setting your boundaries.
- You are not responsible for other people’s emotions. If someone is unhappy with you saying “no” then it’s not your responsibility to help them feel better. We cannot control other people’s reactions; we can only control our responses to them.
- You cannot please everybody all of the time, and if you try doing so you’ll only tie yourself up in knots.
Try to remember that saying “no” doesn’t mean you’re unkind or unhelpful. Saying “no” is sometimes about maintaining your boundaries and your self-care.