How to Stop People Pleasing and Start Living Your Life to The Fullest

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You have got to stop people pleasing! It is ruining your life. Instead of being happy and making the world a better place like you imagined, you’re actually just making yourself miserable. You’re also being extremely passive aggressive. But don’t worry, it’s all fixable.

I know people pleasing sounds so slimy and offensive. But the overall cause of your people pleasing is genuine. You truly just want to make people happy. You may also want people to like you.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to make people happy or wanting people to like you. Who doesn’t want to be loved?

The problem arises when you start expecting people to reciprocate your efforts. Not everyone sees relationships as give and take.

Here you are sacrificing your life, you gave up your Saturday to be with them in their time of need, and they won’t even let you borrow their pot for one evening.

After all, you did for them! Really! So you get angry. You bent and twisted just to make them happy.

But they can’t do something so small for you. You find yourself in this cycle over and over with many different people. I’m sorry to break it to you, you’re a victim of people pleasing syndrome.

Who is a people pleaser?

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A people-pleaser is you. You, who cannot say no. You strive to be the nicest and most helpful person around.

You’re the person who everyone can count on for a favor without being asked for anything in return. You look back at your life and you realize that you spend an enormous part of your life doing things for others.

What’s so wrong with that? Nothing. You are a wonderful person! I’m being genuine here. The problem is that there are not too many people out there like you.

There are good, bad, and people in the in-between in this world. So, there will be people who take advantage of your large, giving heart. Some people may not even realize that they are taking advantage of your kindness.

And I am here to help you because people pleasing can be unhealthy for your mental wellness. Think about it.

You spend 4 hours doing your paid work then the next 4 hours helping someone else do their paid work daily. Not even a thank you.

You do that day after day, even doing overtime to help. Your work ends up slacking because you put yours on the backburner to help your co-worker achieve his goals?

Then, you go home and when someone asks you to attend a baseball game with them because they have no one to go with them. You say yes even though you absolutely abhor baseball and you will end up missing your favorite art class.

What does your life look like? It looks sad and lacks luster. You are filling your days with To-dos that aren’t even yours. Where are your needs? Your desires? Still not sure if you’re a people pleaser?

Signs and Symptoms of People Pleasing

You say sorry often.

You even apologize for things that you have no control over. You scheduled that vacation 6 months before your friends decided to throw that party.

Why are you feeling guilty? You blame yourself for planning your vacation too early. Now, your friends will not like you because you can’t come to their party. 

Yeah, it sounds illogical now. But when you’re in the midst of those thoughts, it seems very real.

You pretend that you agree.

Your co-worker says something that you completely disagree with. But since you don’t like to stir the water, you keep your mouth shut and agree.

Hopefully, someone else can disagree with her. So, you are not stuck presenting this horrendous idea. Why are you so fake?

You cannot say no.

So, everyone disagreed with your co-worker’s idea but you. She asked everyone separately about their opinions and you were the only one who agreed.

Now, she wants you to be her partner in this project. You said yes. You should have really said yes. I mean you wanted to and then you saw her face. She was just so genuine and you didn’t want to mess up the friendship that you had.

You act like those you are around.

Now, that you two are partners, two peas in a pod. She introduced you to her friends. They drink like fishes and love hard rock metal music. Two things you don’t do.

What do you do? Throw that shot down, wince, and pretend to rock out. Do people even say rock out?

You avoid all confrontation.

Someone told your co-worker, Judith, Judy (You guys are close now. I guess you can start saying her name.) that you never liked anything remotely rock. So, you avoid her like the chicken you are.

You hate conflict. It’s so uncomfortable.

Self- Neglect

So, yeah, all this time you’ve been spending with Judy and her crew has been exhausting.

Now that you’ve fallen out, you finally have time to listen to what you actually like, smooth jazz, and sip on tea slowly. Your liver is thanking you right now.

Passive Aggression and Resentment

So, it was your turn to do a project. You and Judy made up. Turns out it wasn’t even an issue. Ha, ha.

You have your idea and it is something you and Judy had talked about a couple of times so, she should say yes to be your partner, right? Not right.

She turned you down! She partnered up with John! Who clearly hates hard metal and detests alcohol!

Everyone knows that! After you spent all those weeks working late with her and listening to her horrible playlist, this is how she repays you! Fine. We’ll see the next time she asks for something.

Judy needed extra printer paper yesterday. You told her that you and your partner would need all of it, so you couldn’t lend any out. Petty but c’est la vie.

You’ve stopped enjoying others and the activities that come with it.

John invited everyone at the office to his place to celebrate the end of project proposal week. It just seems like work.

You’ll go but you will be dying to get home. It’s hard to always be so pleasant to everyone.

Stress and Depression

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All this has made you stressed. Maybe the stress has started leaking into your personal life and you are finding it hard to enjoy smooth jazz. Even your tea tastes a little lifeless and you love tea! It’s so hard helping others and getting nothing in return.

If you can completely relate to that little story too well, then maybe you have some work to do. You’re a people pleaser. But, don’t worry. It doesn’t have to stay that way.

How to stop people pleasing

Set boundaries.

Figure out where your responsibilities as a friend, co-worker, or sibling end and where you can just be you.

Realize that the people who love you will still like you even if you disagree.

Love is unconditional. Even some versions of likes are strong enough to handle disagreements.

Conflict is a part of life.

There are 4 ways to deal with conflict. One of them is called compromise. You can compromise and you do not have to pretend you agree or avoid the situation. Avoiding just snowballs the problem when it comes back later.

Take time for yourself.

Photo by Liam Anderson on Pexels.com

You are valuable. Your opinion matters and your well-being matters. You cannot be your best you if you never have time to breathe. We are all human and understand the term, “I need a break.”

Saying no does not mean that you are mean.

It means that you are allowing someone the opportunity to choose the best person fit to do an activity with them.

If you hate baseball, you don’t have to say that. Say, “I have my favorite art class tonight that I don’t want to miss.”

Or say, “Emily loves baseball. She might appreciate this more than I will. Why don’t you ask her?” Start saying no to smaller things before saying no to big things. Your confidence will grow as time goes by.

Validate yourself.

You are worthy. Some deep part of you wants approval from others. But no approval will be better than your own self- approval, and self-acceptance.

Get rid of people who are clearly taking advantage of you: the toxic people who make you feel bad.

Stop apologizing so much.

Don’t feel guilty for saying no. People around you say no and don’t apologize. You don’t have to apologize either. They don’t even need to know why you are saying no. You are entitled to your no. They are not entitled to your yes.

Hopefully, these tips have helped you to start living life to your fullest. Now that you don’t have to pretend that you’re someone you are not; you can bring your tea into the office and blast your smooth jazz through your headphones.

You can tell everyone about your weekly art classes even though everyone in the office doesn’t like art, let alone understand it. But that’s okay because you can live life to the fullest now that you’ve started slowly curing your people pleaser syndrome.

Thanks for reading my rant,

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Shika Tamaklo is a pharmacy student attending Mercer University. She is a college lifestyle blogger who writes on fitness, health, student life struggles and, occasionally dabbles in creative writing.

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