Updated: Oct 1
Do you often find yourself putting everyone else first, no matter what is going on in your life?
It's great to help others and it can actually really enhance your wellbeing, but only if boundaries are kept in place and you don't end up doing so much that you feel others are taking advantage.
There are many reasons why people feel the need to people-please. Quite often, it accompanies anxiety and the fear of confrontation. Maybe you were taught from an early age that to receive love, you must agree with those around you and do exactly as you were told. Perhaps love was only shown when you were being helpful or on the condition that you achieved something, so you never felt loved just for being you. Maybe you were punished if you disagreed or felt differently to your parents so you were gradually conditioned into being agreeable, no matter your true thoughts or feelings.
There are many problems with people-pleasing, though. It can lead to a feeling of inauthenticity within yourself. If all you ever do is try to please others, when do you make time to do the things you love? You might even be so busy rushing around and doing things for the people around you that you no longer even know what you want or what you enjoy. It can also lead to feelings of overwhelm, exhaustion and eventually, resentment and anger. You'll also begin to realise that, no matter how hard you try, you will never please everyone.
"If you live for people's acceptance, you will die from their rejection." Lecrae
It's not easy to break the people-pleasing habit, especially if it's something you've been conditioned to do since childhood. People probably know you as the person to ask for help as they know you'll always say yes. So, what can you do to gently start backing away and making more time for yourself?
Here are my five top tips for overcoming the people-pleasing habit.
1. Recognise that you have a choice
You might find yourself automatically saying yes to anything that's asked of you. The first step is to take a moment and realise that you are in charge of your life, your energy and your time. You can say no if you want to.
2. Learn to say no
It might feel really uncomfortable, but it's important to say no to anything you don't have time for or things you really don't want to do. Also, don't fall into the trap of making excuses. A simple no should be enough. Practise polite ways of saying no with a partner or trusted friend so you find something that feels comfortable for you. Like anything, the more you practise, the easier and more natural it will become. Accept that it will feel uncomfortable to start with, but just sit with that feeling and acknowledge it until eventually passes.
3. Don't feel the need to apologise
You might be tempted to start your "no" with "I'm sorry". Don't apologise when you've done absolutely nothing wrong. This is a good tip generally. Notice how many times you find yourself apologising and taking the blame for things that are not your fault. It's all part of that people-pleasing habit.
4. Set boundaries
If you do agree to do something for someone, make sure you set your boundaries so that you feel you are in control and not taken advantage of. If you can only offer a couple of hours, make that clear from the start.
5. Practise Authenticity
Take some time to tune into your heart and remember who you are. It might take some time to get to know yourself again, especially if you've spent years rushing around after others or feeling pressured into agreeing with everyone else's opinions.
What are your goals? What's your true purpose? What really lights you up? Take some time to plan how you'll use this extra time for yourself.
You might find that certain people start to distance themselves now that you're not proving as useful to them as you once did. If this happens, accept that they are probably not people who deserve a place in your life. Remember that you absolutely deserve to be loved for who you are and not just what you can do for others.
You'll feel so much freer and happier when you feel confident enough to be your authentic and beautiful self. That is when you'll attract true friends into your life.
"Because one believes in oneself, one doesn't try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn't need others' approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her." Lao Tzu
Try some of the tips above and let me know how you got on in the comments below. If you feel you'd like some help overcoming those people-pleasing tendencies, please get in touch or book a consultation using the button below. Hypnotherapy is great for changing those old limiting beliefs and unwanted habits so that you can move forward feeling happier and more confident. It would be great to hear from you.