Although enjoying helping others is a great trait to have, it should not cause you grief or misery. Here are some ways to declare your independence and stop people pleasing.
“People pleasing” is when you frequently go out of your way to satisfy someone else at the expense of your own happiness and contentment. When you create and set personal boundaries, and “teach” the people in your life to respect them, you are helping them be better people in the long run. You are being more of a support system for the person without pushing your own sensibilities to the side, and helping them to build a necessary skill set, rather than doing their work for them. You only have one life to live, and learning to create and set boundaries will help you live your life to the fullest.
Learn to Say “No” and MEAN It
Saying “no” is a real challenge for many of us – for me, saying no to an adult was difficult based on my upbringing. But if you truly want to be free from always being at the beck and call of others, you must start someplace. Notice how you feel when you are asked to do something. Maybe you are invited to an event that truly you don’t want to attend, but feel you “should.” Pause a moment, take a deep breath and say, “No thanks.” Start out by saying “No thanks” to small things and then work your way up to larger requests, gaining power and confidence every time you say “No” and honor your own wishes.
Own It – Your Opinion, That Is
It’s uncomfortable to feel like you are standing alone when others don’t share your opinions. It’s natural to want to fit in – in fact, our brains are hardwired with the desire to be “one of the gang”. Start by finding times when it feels safe to intentionally share your opinion, even if no one else approves or agrees. Practice this at first with close friends and family first, and then once you feel more confident, expand your more assertive mindset with other groups of people, for example, at work.
People pleasers often feel the urge to justify their inability to do something asked of them. In reality, you do not have to answer to anyone but yourself. The next time you find yourself getting ready to apologize and / or explain yourself and why you can’t do that task that another person wants you to do, stop yourself. You will usually find people don’t ask for an explanation.
Take Small Steps
Be patient with yourself, and allow yourself time to change. Do not be hard on yourself because you have probably been a people pleaser for quite some time, if not your entire life. You may have even been “trained” or “raised” to be one! Start by noticing who you defer to consistently and the feelings you experience when you feel that push to do whatever it takes to make the other person happy. When doing the task, the thing will make you happy too, then do it. If not, start standing up for yourself by offering a simple, “No, thanks.” The more you do it, the easier it will get.