In a previous blog, we discussed the characteristics of people pleasers and some of the possible reasons they may develop these traits. In this article, we will discuss some tangible steps that people-pleasers can take to regain control of their lives. The good news is there are ways to still serve the people you love without sacrificing your own wants and desires and falling into people-pleasing behaviors.
Individuals must not only understand their limits but be able to communicate these limits to establish clear boundaries. Boundaries are essential because they allow someone to exert control over what they are willing to do – and under what circumstances they will be willing to do it. For instance, a small first step may be to set specific hours that people can contact you – and not pick up the phone if they call outside of those hours.
Altering behavior patterns is challenging for everyone – but can be especially difficult for those addicted to people-pleasing. They must learn a new way of thinking and reacting and then communicate these new rules to others. It is generally best to begin with small changes – by saying no to small requests or expressing an opinion on an inconsequential matter. For some people, this may mean getting used to declining people over text before saying “no” in person.
Every step away will infuse a people pleaser with a little more confidence to assert their needs.
Setting goals and priorities before requests can help people-pleasers decide what they wish to accomplish – and how they want to spend their time. Clearly defining these priorities can establish whether or not there is enough time and energy to commit to the request. Here are some tips to help you to maintain control over your own schedule and limit people-pleasing behaviors:
- Take some time: There is no need to answer immediately and regret overcommitting. Indicate that you will think about the request and respond later. Take that time to consider how much time is required, how committed you are to the request, and how much stress it is likely to cause. Studies have shown that pausing before answering significantly improves decision-making accuracy and allows you to make a choice that makes sense for you.
- Assess the Motivation: Unfortunately, people often learn to take advantage of people-pleasers’ generosity. For instance, some people in your life may always seem to need a favor – but are never available to help when you need assistance for yourself. If it feels like manipulation, take some time to assess the situation and decide on a response. A healthy relationship involves reciprocal effort – and does not allow one person always to sacrifice what they need to keep the other person happy.
- Don’t Make Excuses: You do not owe anyone an explanation for why you do not have the time or energy to help them. A simple “I’m sorry, I can’t help this time” should suffice. Once you try to explain your decision, you give the other person the opportunity to refine their request to fit your situation or to work around your excuses, making it more difficult to maintain resolve in your decision.
Choose When You Want to Help
By nature, people-pleasers love making others happy, and this article is not meant to discourage them from suppressing who they truly are. People can be generous, kind, and thoughtful and develop solid and lasting relationships while protecting their time and emotions. The key is understanding the true motivations behind people-pleasing and doing those things that inspire joy, not resentment. People pleasers, therefore, should still do the things that make them happy, but on their own terms and within their set boundaries.
Remember, you will not lose true friendships or close relationships when you stand up for yourself.
Talk to Someone
Sometimes people-pleasers need unbiased outside advice to understand the difference between being kind and being manipulated or abused. A coach can give them the support and encouragement they need to set and enforce boundaries and learn to value themselves.
Denise Schonwald is a nationally certified mental health counselor and coach dedicated to the well-being of each of her clients. Call today to learn more about taking control of your life and happiness.