Rehab for a People Pleaser
Updated: Jan 21
Let me guess - you're often referred to as "the nicest", the "sweetheart of the group", the one everyone knows will be there for, well, basically anyone at the drop of a hat. It's called people pleasing for a reason - you try to appease everyone around you (even if this costs you your personal happiness/peace).
As a people pleaser myself, this is both a blessing and a curse. We are known for our heart of gold (weird brag?) and cultivate meaningful relationships due to this, however, we are often taken advantage of, walked all over, stepped on - sometimes even stomped on. Some of our friends, family, and others in our life expect that we can and will do anything to make them happy at all times. And while it's true that we want to make them happy, we often forget to prioritize our own needs and desires. So, how do we stop this? How do we put an end to the people-pleaser-tendencies in us?
Know Your Values
First and foremost, you have to determine what you value both personally and in your relationships. Yes, this is a bit broad, but for example, do you value trustworthiness? Honesty? Dependability? Knowing what is important to you helps you shape how you will treat others, and how you want others to treat you. By knowing your values and practicing them yourself, you can weed out the relationships that aren't meeting your needs, and thus, stop wasting your time trying to nurture a friendship that isn't worth your time in the first place.
You heard it here first - put the walls up! I know that's probably going against everything you've ever read. This isn't to say close yourself off, but we need to set boundaries for all relationships, whether that's family, friends, coworkers, or romantic partners. This is one of the most important things you can do for yourself as a people pleaser - setting these specific boundaries will allow you to steer clear of doing what you feel obligated to do, and do what you know is best for you and that relationship. For example, if you have a friend who is bringing you down - she's just in a funk, going through a rough patch, irritable more often than not, and lashing out at you. Instead of allowing her to continue projecting her negativity on you, you can simply tell her that you love her and are there for her if she'd like to have a conversation about what has been bothering her, but need to remove yourself from the equation if she is going to continue with her negative behavior towards you.
Some may think, but wait, aren't I being a bad friend if I'm not there for her? But many of us people pleasers don't realize that by choosing this path, we are still showing that we are there for our friend and reassuring them they are loved and we are available for a productive conversation if this is the route they choose. We often think that we have to be punching bags to be a good friend, which is thus neglecting both ourselves, while also damaging the relationship. The biggest thing we need to remember as people pleasers is we are not a bad friend/daughter/coworker/girlfriend/wife by setting boundaries that meet our needs and protect our well-being.
Stop Making Excuses
We've all been there. "Well, he's going through a hard time", "she needs me", "I don't want to be mean." No, no, and no. There is a huge difference between being there for someone, and letting them take advantage of you. Know your worth and realize that it is not selfish, or being a bad sister, or being rude for removing yourself from a situation or relationship that is 1. causing you distress 2. not serving you emotionally 3. going against your values. An emotion we, as people pleasers often feel, is guilt. This is misguided, as we have prioritized others feelings/desires/needs our entire lives, so prioritizing our own seems selfish. I'm here to remind you that prioritizing others' happiness over your own is an attack on your well-being - so, choose you.
Rewrite the Narrative
As I've mentioned, many of us have done (and may continue to do) what those in our lives want. We let them choose where we go to eat each time, we let them FaceTime us every night to vent about their boyfriend problems, we let them borrow money each month for part of their rent that they swear they'll pay us back for. And with all of these things added up - it's safe to say we're being taken advantage of! Part of the problem is many of us don't have the nerve to stand up to the people we care about - because that's just it, we care. We want to help them when they have a problem. While some of these problems are minuscule in the grand scheme of things, others take a toll on us and we may not realize we're spending more time on other people's problems than our own! And, hello!? They're not our problems! Remind yourself of this the next time you go to grab your superman (or woman) cape that they can handle their problems themselves, and that your role is merely to be there for a shoulder to lean on (and not 24/7).
I know, you've heard it time and time again, but the best way to stop being a people pleaser is to love and value yourself fully. A lot of times, people pleasers are dependent on the relationships in their life. We need the validation that we are both wanted and needed and that we add value to others with our friendship and/or relationship. To stop this cycle, we can remind ourselves that we are worthy and don't need others approval or "need" for us to feel happy and full on our own. We don't need to create world peace, or solve world hunger - we just need to love ourselves for who we are so much that we can spread that love to those we choose to surround ourselves with.
And there you have it! Stop prioritizing others and start prioritizing you. Do you struggle with being a people pleaser? Do you have other tips on how to curb these tendencies? Let me know in a message or comment and remember to subscribe on my homepage! See you in my next post. :)