We’ve all put our needs aside to please other people at some point or another.
While there’s nothing wrong for doing things for others, problems arise when we constantly put our needs aside for the benefit of others, often at the detriment to our own health and happiness.
This type of behaviour is referred to as “people pleasing” and it is wreaking havoc on your well-being.
This post will run you through what these behaviours look like, how to know when they are becoming a problem and how to break free and start pleasing yourself.
What does people pleasing behaviour look like?
This kind of behaviour can manifest in many forms, but here are a few of the most common examples:
- Not being able to say no. Saying yes to people when they ask for your help, even though you might not have the time or energy and really want to say no.
- Constantly apologising. Apologising for things that aren’t your fault just to keep others happy.
- Avoiding conflict at all costs. This ties in with constantly apologising, avoiding conflict at all costs might cause you to agree with the opinions of those around you, even mimicking their behaviour, despite not agreeing with their opinions and values.
- You base your worth on how others see you. Being helpful might feel fantastic, but if you need to hear a constant stream of “thanks for your help, you’re amazing!” in order to feel good about yourself, you might be basing your worth on how useful you can be to others.
- You don’t know how you feel. You might not be able to pinpoint how you feel about a certain situation or topic because you’ve spent so long trying to match with how other people feel about those topics. Your ability to form opinions may have been repressed for so long that it is hard for you to formulate any of your own.
So how do we know when this becomes a problem?
If you feel as though you constantly need to make other people happy in order for them to like you, often at the expense of your own time, happiness and values, then you might be taking these people pleasing behaviours to an unhealthy place.
Constantly making yourself available to others can take its emotional toll, so if you are continually feeling drained and sapped of energy, unable to do the things that make you happy and harbouring feelings of resentment to those around you, then it might be time to make some changes.
How can you start putting yourself first?
By saying yes to others, you are saying no to yourself.
Reversing years of people pleasing behaviour will take time, so it is vital to be patient with yourself and approach these changes from a place of love and care for yourself.
Here are three ways you can start to reverse this behaviour and begin looking after yourself.
Don’t let people walk all over you by being available 24/7. It is essential that you set boundaries, whether it’s not answering messages after 6pm or simply just saying no to requests for things you don’t want to do.
Start off small by saying no to small things and gradually building up to saying no to bigger things.
You will find yourself with more time, energy and less resentment towards those around you.
Understand you can’t please everyone.
Just like death and taxes, it is guaranteed that you can’t please everyone. Do what makes you happy, fulfil your own needs and stop worrying about how other people see you. It’s not their life.
Understand your wants and needs.
If you’ve spent a long time trying to please others, you may have lost touch with what it is you actually want and need.
Spend some time really thinking about what it is that you want out of life, and what you need to be happy.
For example, you might want to work on a hobby or grow your career, or perhaps you understand that you need a certain amount of sleep or down time to be happy.
Whatever your wants and needs are, write them down so if you ever lose sight of them, they’re in easy reach.
You might choose to embark on this journey with someone you feel comfortable with, that can help guide you through these changes, as it can be a difficult process for some.
Remember, saying no doesn’t make you a bad person. Setting boundaries and sticking to them ensures you can help others without it becoming a detriment to your own well-being.
Self-care is not selfish.