If we are honest with ourselves, most of us must admit that we care, at least to some extent, that we care about what other people think of us. We want to be liked. We want people to think well of us. Likewise, most of us want to do well for and please other people. We want to touch lives. We want to make a difference. And, in my opinion, this is part of being human. As such, I think it is natural that we feel driven to please those that we care about and have a positive impact on the lives of others.
I mean, really think about what a motivating force this truly is. Think about the beautiful work that has been done in this world because of our natural tendency to give a care about other people. It is a good thing, is it not?
…I really think it is. But I also think that this can be too much of a good thing, especially when we become imbalanced and inadvertently cause harm to ourselves or others because of our desire to please everyone at once.
This tendency that I am referring to is most often referred to as “people pleasing”. And if you are a “people pleaser” you know what I mean. You know the moral dilemma you are faced with each and every time you must choose to say “yes” or “no” to someone you care about, including yourself. You know how hard it is to accept the idea that you simply cannot please everyone all the time. Or, perhaps even worse, that not everyone is going to receive you in the way that you want to be received. If you are a “people pleaser”, you are most likely kind, polite, reliable, and a peace-keeper. And, chances are, you are also familiar with feeling stressed, overextended, taken advantage of, highly-sensitive, resentful, lost, and sometimes, inauthentic.
If you are a pleaser-of-the-people in this way, you probably put other people first, even at the detriment of your own well-being. And while that can be admirable and virtuous at times, it is also important that you are able to establish and maintain boundaries for your own well-being.
In fact, not only is this important, but it is also natural and healthy. Yet, if you are “people pleaser”, this is much easier said than done.
So, how do you go about re-establishing new patterns within relationships? Consider the following five steps:
- Address your fears.
Quite often, the desire to please others stems from a deep-rooted fear or wound that deserves attention. Examine this underlying issue, and you will likely find healing.
- Reflect on your values.
Clarify what is important to you. These priorities will likely become a guiding force that is much stronger than your fears. As such, they will help you determine what is most right for you.
- Create boundaries.
Remember that boundaries must exist and be respected in every healthy relationship. Know and communicate your limits, and do not be afraid to draw lines.
- Find a way to say “no.”
You cannot say “yes” to everything all the time. So find a way that is comfortable for you to decline or say “no” to the things that you are aligned with so that you may say “yes” to the things you are. Remember that saying “no” is a skill that becomes easier with practice.
- Stop apologizing for yourself.
…Especially when it isn’t necessary. You do not owe anyone an apology, nor an explanation, for being true to yourself.