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How to Stop Being a People Pleaser -

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Do you habitually give in to other people because you just can't stand the thought of upsetting them? Do you put your needs to one side because you get a buzz from someone else's happiness, only to find that he or she is not a bit grateful? If so, you are a classic "people pleaser," and you are, in all probability, not getting what you want out of life. It's time to shift the focus from others to yourself, and stop being a martyr.


There's trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. 'People pleaser' is actually a code for codependency; many people are codependent. Read 'Codependent No More', the seminal work on the subject, or find a Coda meeting, or other resource. Other telltales are: you are either passive or aggressive, with little or no in between; you never seem to be having any fun; you are constantly controlling or being controlled; you are often in a hurry for no reason.


1. Think of five times when you did or said something that did not truly reflect your wants and needs, in order to please someone else. Write them down. For each of these occasions, imagine how you would have handled it differently to please yourself! What is the worst that could have happened? Write down your worst fears.


2. Look at your fears. Are they realistic? Are they truly terrible? You might be afraid that no one will like you, that someone will leave you, or that you will be left all alone if you don't say the right thing. That is a prison you have trapped yourself in, and it's time to unlock the doors and walk out! The people around you may be used to your compliance, but if they're not willing to accept that you have your own needs, are they really worth having in your life?


3 Examine your ability to set limits on others. Examine your boundaries. Where are they? What is acceptable behavior for you and what is unacceptable? Do you tolerate the intolerable? Normalize the abnormal? Accept the unacceptable? Do you know what it feels like to be treated with dignity and respect? Learn how to identify and label unacceptable treatment from others and how to set limits on their behavior when they violate your boundaries.


4 Consider the source. Many people pleasers were raised in environments wherein their needs and feelings were pushed aside/not considered. Were you always expected to anticipate and mold yourself to everyone else's needs? Did you learn that the only way to receive a positive response was to do what others wanted you to do? If so, here's a newsflash -- not all the world wants a pushover. By focusing on pleasing others, you open yourself up to manipulation and abuse. You will never reach your potential as an individual if you constantly hide behind others' expectations.


5 Stop basing your self-worth on how much you do for other people. It's noble to want to help others, but it's something you should do because you want to, not because you feel you have to. The greatest acts of kindness are those done by choice, not out of fear or guilt. If you're doing things for others because you would feel bad if you didn't, is the action really genuine? Would you want others to help you under those terms? And, if you're helping others to such an extent that you are neglecting yourself, is that really wise?


6 Learn how to say "no." Don't make up excuses -- give your reasons for not wanting something. So your husband wants his entire family to come to Christmas dinner, and you just can't face it? "I'm sorry darling, I find the pressure of entertaining such a large number of people intolerable." Your best friend wants you to go with her or him to a party that will be full of people that you can't stand? "No thank you. It's just not my scene." Start small by finding something small to say "no" to, and say it firmly. Say it politely, but mean it! You'll be surprised -- the world will not collapse around your ears! People rarely take offense, and those that do aren't worth pleasing.


7 Ask for what you want. If everybody's going to the movies, and most people in the group want to see a particular movie, but you'd rather watch something else, speak up! There's nothing wrong with voicing your opinion, and it doesn't have to mean you're making a demand. Simply reminding people that you're an individual with your own preferences is a big step forward. Even asking someone to help you do something will help.


Ultimately, you must remember that no one can read your mind. If you feel that you do so much for others, but they don't do anything for you, maybe it's because you don't express your needs or desires. It's not fair to make people pry an answer from you. If they ask you what you want, or if there's a decision being made, put in your opinion, and let that be that.


8 Do something for yourself. Do one thing you have been wanting to do, but are afraid someone else will not like. Dye your hair, get that new look, have a treat that you enjoy, go on holiday....whatever you do, do it for yourself, and practice not worrying what anyone else thinks about it. Don't get caught up in doing things just because no one else wants you to do them. Remember that there ought to be things that you truly want to do for yourself, regardless of what anyone else thinks, not in spite of it. Other people's opinions are a factor in our lives, but they should not be the determining factor.


9 Compromise. While it's not good to be a pushover, it's no better to be a manipulative bully or a reckless rebel. Don't become totally selfish. In fact, many people pleasers have low self-esteem. So do those who are selfish. It is best to develop good self-care skills which include healthy assertiveness skills. You can listen to others, but ultimately, what you do is your choice. Keep a balance! Sometimes the needs of other people should come first. Whenever there's a conflict of desires, try to come up with a solution that will meet both desires halfway, or better yet, a "win-win" situation where both sides get even more than they bargained for.




If you find yourself compromising your own needs, be aware that in the long run you compromise your ability to help others as well. Taking care of yourself prevents you from burning out. Remind yourself that by making choices that are good for you, you will have enough "fuel" to do good for others.


Pin up this affirmation where you will see it every day: "My needs are just as important as yours." Understand that being kind and being a "people pleaser" are not the same thing. To disagree with someone does not necessarily mean you are being unkind. It is possible to be kind and state your own needs at the same time. Do not label standing up for yourself as selfish or wrong. It is not.

Anticipate situations where you would normally "people please," by thinking about what you want and rehearsing your "lines."


Don't worry if you slip back into your old ways occasionally; lifelong habits take time to overcome.

Treat all people with politeness, dignity and respect. If they aren't nice to you (that is, if they do not treat you with politeness, dignity and respect), then consider limiting the relationship. Don't respond to rudeness with your own rudeness; it just perpetuates the problem.


If you find that you begin most sentences with "I should" or "I ought", realize you are operating from a position of weakness and people-pleasing. How can you re-phrase those thoughts to be more constructive?


Practice integrity and insist on it in others. Recognize when you are being manipulated, whatever the intention behind it. Follow your bliss--you have a responsibility to nourish your talents, work hard, and help others along the way, but not to accept their responsibility as your own.


Don't always make yourself available when you cannot afford to be; doing so invites others to take advantage of you.




Some people may take time to adjust to the new you. Don't apologize for being you, but be gentle with them!


Some people may seem to reject the new you. Although you may have been afraid to change at first, understand that other people may be as well, and may not understand that their rejection is not so much aimed at you as much as it is aimed at themselves. Just as you might have thought to reject your desires, so might others reject theirs and yours in turn only because they think that is what is good for the both of you! Be patient with them. Just as you were capable of understanding that change is nothing to fear, others will come to realize this in time. You can do much to inspire people and calm their own fears by resisting your own.


Some things you may want to do may not be workplace-safe. If you really need your job, think twice before mouthing off or getting a pink Mohawk and 5 piercings -- especially if you have to be at the investment bank in the morning.


Don't blame others for your decision to change. Don't say "I had to do this because of you!" Remember that you are deciding to change for yourself.


Note that expressing your own desires requires first your awareness of what they are, which requires conscious and consistent practice. For instance, your partner says "Let's have hamburgers for dinner" and you may really think "Whatever is fine by me" while, it is only "fine" because you never make that choice. Take the few extra seconds to consider it. Or, where do you go when you are alone? Tell him or her that's where you would like to go this time. Do not be concerned about what is a good opportunity to practice and what is not.


Don't always try to please everybody because they could end up taking advantage of you and making you do stuff that you really don't want to do!!!


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