I am a recovering people pleaser. And the process is hard but can be done. It is something I work at every single day and have come a long way. In my last blog post I talked about my struggle.
That need and feeling for approval, nice compliments and to be liked is normal. We are humans and naturally crave that sort of stuff. But there is a point where it becomes too much. We rely TOO much on these compliments and approvals that we tend to lose ourselves. When we start to base our happiness and self-worth on others, it can become dangerous.
I love to help people. Just knowing I can make them happy or be there for them and help them, brings my heart joy. It comes naturally and has always been something that I have had a passion for. But when I started to realize that the joy I was initially feeling in that moment, started to make me feel drained and stressed; I knew something was wrong. You have to understand that there is a HUGE difference between wanting to help people and also wanting to be a people pleaser.
People pleasers, like myself, yearn for approval. When we get that approval we feel happy and worthy. And when we don't, we feel worthless and sad. We tend to put other people's needs before our own and have a hard time with saying NO to things we may not want to do. We fear rejection, losing people and what others will say or think.
So how do you stop being a people pleaser? I can't promise you these steps will help you stop. But I can promise you these steps that I have taken have helped me feel more free about caring so much of what others think. And have honestly helped me do more things I love, without guilt.
1. Learn to say NO.
There really isn't a special trick for this one. You just really have to say NO to things that make you unhappy. The more you say it, the easier it gets. It can be so easy to say yes, just to please the person who is asking. But that is only hurting you in the long run. You are showing this person that they can take advantage of you because you will always say yes. You DON'T have to say yes to those extra hours if you can't handle it. You DON'T have to say yes to every invite from friends and family. Speak your mind.
2. Understand you have a choice.
Just like you don't have to say yes, you also don't have to say no. You are very capable and have the power to make your own choices. Learn to say yes or no based on how YOU feel. Not on how it will benefit others around you.
3. Understand who you are.
What is it you truly want in life? What brings you joy? Happiness? Once you figure out who you are, you will be able to better understand whether you are making choices based on if they are right or not for you. Or if you are making choices just to please a specific person. Once you figure out who you are and what you truly want, start to let go of everyone and everything that no longer aligns with your thoughts and feelings.
4. Understand not everyone will like you.
This one can be a hard pill to swallow. Especially as a people pleaser. But no matter how nice, helpful, good-looking, talented, popular you are; there will always be someone who just will not like you. And there isn't anything you can do about it. And you know what, that's OK. Don't try to figure out what it is or what you can do differently. It will just make you overwhelmed and frustrated and you will find yourself doing things you dislike again.
5. Find your tribe.
That feeling of wanting to help and have the approval of others can be ok. As long as you are focusing on the right people. It can take over your life when you feel you need to have the approval of every single follower on social media or every single co-worker at work. Hate to break it to you but, not all of their opinions matter. And it is important to figure out whose opinions you do truly value.
Sit down and think about all the people in your life. Write down names of those who you value their opinions. Think about whether or not they have good intentions or your best interest at heart. Think about the people that bring you joy, happiness and make you laugh daily. Think about those who you feel yourself around and don't feel like you have to impress. Those are all your people. That is your tribe. And your tribe should be the ONLY group of people you care about.
6. Build self-worth.
Feeling worthy can be a struggle. Especially when you are not receiving approval from others around you. But it is time to make peace with yourself. Love yourself and be proud of you who are. When you start to have those self-critical thoughts think about those you listed in your tribe. Would they sit there and tell you that you are fat, stupid, your ideas are dumb and you will never be successful? I hope not! (and if so, maybe they should not be in your tribe). Start talking to yourself the way you would talk to someone you love. When you start doing this, those critical voices will start to become quieter and quieter.
7. Stop apologizing.
We tend to over use the words, "I'm sorry". Pay attention the next time you say I'm sorry. Were you responsible for the situation you are apologizing for? My guess is probably not. I am not saying you will never do anything in your life that isn't your fault. But people pleasers tend to think every situation that occurs, is their fault.
Learning to stop being a people pleaser is not easy and does take a lot of work. But doing things to make you happy does not make you selfish or a bad person. Feeling worthy of yourself and loving yourself does not make you conceited. Don't let the opinions of others prevent you from caring for yourself. We can become so caught up in living other peoples lives, that we don't actually get to live the life we TRULY want. When you are trying to do things to make others happy, you are hiding the real you. You are hiding what you truly love or how you truly feel. Stop it. Start working today on being truthful with yourself. You are just as loved and important as anyone else.