People-pleasers want everyone around them to be happy and they will do whatever is asked of them to keep it that way. They put everyone else before themselves. For some, saying “yes” is a habit; for others, it’s almost an addiction that makes them feel like they need to be needed. This makes them feel important and like they’re contributing to someone else’s life. People-pleasers yearn for outside validation. Their personal feeling of security and self-confidence is based on getting the approval of others. Thus, at the core, people-pleasers lack confidence.
They worry how others will view them when they say no. People don’t want to be seen as lazy, uncaring, selfish or totally egocentric. They fear “they’ll be disliked and cut from the group,” whether it’s friends, family or co-workers.
What many people-pleasers don’t realize is that people-pleasing can have serious risks. Not only does it put a lot of pressure and stress on you, but essentially you can make yourself sick from doing too much. If you’re over-committed, you probably get less sleep and get more anxious and upset. You’re also depleting your energy resources. In the worst case scenario, you’ll wake up and find yourself depressed, because you’re on such overload because you possibly can’t do it all.
Here’s a slew of strategies to help you stop being a people-pleaser and finally say no.
1. Realize you have a choice.
People-pleasers often feel like they have to say yes when someone asks for their help. Remember that you always have a choice to say no.
2. Set your priorities.
Knowing your priorities and values helps you put the brakes on people-pleasing. You know when you feel comfortable saying no or saying yes.
Whenever someone asks you for a favor, it’s perfectly OK to say that you’ll need to think about it. This gives you the opportunity to consider if you can commit to helping them. If the person needs an answer right away, your automatic answer can be no.
4. Set a time limit.
If you do agree to help out, limit your time frame.
5. Consider if you’re being manipulated.
Sometimes, people are clearly taking advantage of you, so it’s important to watch out for manipulators and flatterers.
6. Use an empathetic assertion.
Using an empathetic assertion means that you put yourself in the other person’s shoes as you assert yourself. So you let the person know that you understand where they’re coming from, but unfortunately, you can’t help. People need to feel heard and understood and this is a respectful way of asserting yourself and saying no.
7. Don’t give a litany of excuses.
It’s tempting to want to defend your decision to say no to someone so they understand your reasoning. But this actually backfires.
8. Don’t apologize — if it’s not your fault.
People-pleasers tend to be serial apologists. Pay attention to when you’re apologizing and consider if you’re really at fault. Ask yourself if you’re responsible for the situation. Usually, the answer is no.
9. Set clear boundaries — and follow through.
Ask yourself what you’re willing to do, and don’t go beyond these limits. Also, be clear in communicating your boundaries. Say what you’re thinking and what you want. Letting someone step over your boundaries without voicing your frustrations can lead you to bottle up this negative feeling about a person to the point when you have a blowup and really hurt someone’s feelings or end the relationship.
10. Don’t be scared of the fallout.
The fallout is never as bad as we think it is. In fact, it’s usually very insignificant.
Using positive self-talk is “like being a good mother to yourself”. You can use this to remind yourself of your priorities and boundaries.
12. Realize that you can’t be everything to everyone.
Again, people-pleasers want to make everyone happy. While you might make someone happy temporarily, it doesn’t work long term. And you can get hurt in the process. People who preserve their time and energy and don’t say yes to everyone also realize that they can’t make other people happy. People-pleasers must realize that the only thoughts and feelings they can change are their own.