Confessions of a Recovering People Pleaser


Confessions of a recovering people pleaser

Realizations and Tips


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Confession: I'm an actively recovering people pleaser. 

I'm not sure if it is because I'm the first born, or because I have some buried insecurity related to not being liked, but if I had a dime for every time I said or did something I did not want to do just to make someone else feel good, I would be a very wealthy woman. One of my goals for myself in 2018 is to spend more time taking care of myself, and less time placing others first. Selfish? Maybe, but necessary for self preservation. I spend so many hours in a day worried and concerned about the needs of others, doing things for others, fearful of saying no, that I wake up just as exhausted as when I went to bed. I have been getting better at breaking this cycle, so I wanted to share a few realizations and how I try to manage my people pleasing tendencies: 

Balancing Other's Expectations

I would love to sit here and tell you that you should forget about what other people think, make sure you put yourself above all else, but let's be honest...if you are anything like me, people pleasers cannot give up pleasing others cold turkey. It's not in our nature and will be a constant battle for a long time. As with most any other habit, gradual changes, conscious effort and time will eventually lead to a permanent change. So in the interim, is all about balance. It could be something as simple as not responding to a message right away because you'd rather sit and read a book for 20 minutes. It's a conscious change that puts yourself before the (usually not so immediate) needs of others. Others may expect you to be "on" all the time, to perform this task and that, to be at their disposal, but it's time that we let them be a bit disappointed. The toughest part of letting go of other's expectations is the guilt that we will let someone else down or that we're being selfish. That guilt is misplaced. You have done nothing wrong to feel that way and they can and will usually find another solution to their problem. 

Setting Boundaries

To help manage the expectations of others, you have to set boundaries for yourself. Make a list of your non-negotiables and strive to make sure that everyone and everything around you fits into your boundaries as best you can. You must stand for something (yourself in this case), or you are susceptible to being bulldozed by everyone. People will take what you give them, and if you are willing to give them all of your time, money, effort, happiness, etc, they will run with and leave you with very little for yourself. 

Learning To Say No...and Be OK With the Discomfort 

The hardest part. Inherently, being a people pleaser has a very self-less surface. We give up part of ourselves for the joy it brings to someone else. But we have to look in the mirror a bit here. People do not do things if it ultimately does not benefit them in some way. When taking a brutal look at what it means to be a people pleasure, it boils down to the fact that we are ultimately gratified when others feel good from our behavior; which means that we are finding our happiness and fulfillment in others...and we all know how dangerous of a game that can be. So we have to learn to say no, not just in self preservation, but also to break the cycle of relying on others to make us happy. It's so uncomfortable because not only do we have to deal with the guilt of feeling selfish, but also the inward search for gratification that makes this a tough road to travel. 

Continual self reflecting and readjustment is a necessary evil. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint. Good days and bad days, be sure you take care of yourself to better care for others. 


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