Have you ever done something for someone, something nice, only later to find out that that person has literally thrown you under the bus, backed up and rolled over you again? I have and I have numerous tread marks to show for it. But recently, in my new quest to understand more about the human psyche, I read an article on the net about “people pleasers.” Hmmm…did I fit that description? Considering my usual sarcastic nature I never thought of myself as being that type. The more I read, the more I realized I was. I have always tried to help people, even getting jobs for friends or helping their children get into schools, giving legal advice for hours or, gads, loaning people money (never to be paid back). In all of these incidents over my life I did the deeds without expectation of any quid pro quo but I certainly didn’t have the expectation that once I was used that I would be discarded or treated badly or completely ignored. I never really understood how these people could behave so badly so I usually just wrote them off and went on, continuing to help people if they asked. Something in me, guess it’s old age, decided enough is enough. If I have to be alone, then so be it. I was tired of being used. I know writers are sensitive souls and I know of a few of you out there who are suffering from being people pleasers. This article solidified some of my thoughts on the matter so I thought I would share the writer’s ideas with you.
The article was on WikiHow and titled “How to Stop Being a People Pleaser.” I couldn’t find the link again but I felt that I should give attribution for the ideas because they are very good ones.
The first thing to do is make a list of five incidents where you did things for others that did not reflect your needs or wants; you did them just to please that person. Write each incident and then write how it would have been different if you did what pleased YOU. What would have been the worst thing that would have happened if you did what you wanted? What are your fears?
Next look at your fears of what would happen if you did not do what this person wanted. Are the fears realistic? For example, are you afraid that others won’t like you? I think that is one of my fears, so I understand this. I guess I hope people will value me for doing this for them. Ain’t so. The writer of the article said that this is a trap and that you really don’t need people in your life that only expect things from you. You have needs that should be acknowledged.
Now, you look at the boundaries you set on other people. Do you accept intolerable behavior from them? Learn how to identify your boundaries and set them. Maven Linda once said to me that her boundaries are a lot farther out from her now; she won’t tolerate unacceptable behavior that she used to because she set her boundaries for herself. Wise, very wise. So set your boundaries as to how you wish to be treated.
Consider the source of your people pleasing. If you were raised in a family where you had to consider others above yourself, then you are probably a people pleaser. Understand that doing this all the time subjects you to manipulation and being used. Once you see this and are conscious of it, then you can learn how to stop the behavior.
Stop basing your self worth on what you do for others. Do something for others because you want to, not because you feel you have to. Don’t do something for others out of fear or guilt. You can be kind to others but do it because you want to.
BIG THING – learn to say no. Don’t make excuses. Give your reasons for not wanting to do something. In Southern society it is hard to do this because we are all raised to be polite and not offend someone. You can give your reasons without offending; there is no need to be cruel. Just be firm and stick to your decision.
Ask for what you want. If you want something, speak up for yourself instead of going along with others just to please them. You may not get what you want but you’re letting others know that you have opinions, wants and needs.
Do something for yourself. Do one thing for yourself that you have been afraid to do because you fear that others won’t like it. Say dye your hair. Just do something for you without thinking of others’ opinions.
And last but not least – Compromise. It wouldn’t be wise to become a selfish, me-person just because you want to change yourself. Learn to come up with a solution that satisfies everyone’s needs, yours included. If the other person won’t compromise, learn to say no. Keep a balance and continue to be the good person you are at heart.
I am not advocating becoming a selfish, single-minded person; just telling those of us who try to always please that it’s okay not to. I have been working on stopping my behavior for a while and at first people can’t believe I said no. It becomes easier and more of a habit to learn to offer a compromise than to just give in.
Are you a people pleaser? Do you put others’ wants and needs before your own? Or do you consider it selfish to think of yourself? How do you deal with the users in your life (if you have any)?