Do you bend over backwards to make people happy? Even if it means that you’re going to be unhappy in the process?
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to enhance other people’s lives. In fact, that is a great quality to have. The problem comes in when you’ll do almost anything to achieve it.
After all, it does you absolutely no good to increase other people’s levels of happiness if it means that you’re going to be miserable in the process.
Although it may seem like a near impossible trait to change without suffering from the guilt that you often feel when you don’t make everyone else content, there are things you can do to just be yourself without feeling like you’ve let others down in the process.
#1: Set boundaries
When you’re a true people pleaser, there generally are no boundaries. You will go to great lengths to make sure everyone around you is happier than a child with a huge bundle of cotton candy and a soda.
And, while it may seem like you’re doing right by them (they’re smiling, aren’t they?), you may actually be doing them more harm than good if you don’t create some healthy boundaries.
Sometimes it can be difficult to watch people fall. You want nothing more than to rush in and pick the pieces up for them so they don’t have to feel the pain. You don’t want them to struggle like you had to.
But, isn’t it the struggles that made you stronger? You had to learn the lessons in life in order to get where you are today, right? Well, if you don’t make those around you go through the same process, you are inhibiting them from learning their lessons and so you’re essentially doing them more harm than good.
It’s okay to help others and support them, but it is very important that they be able to live their own life. Set boundaries as to how far you’re willing to go with them, but make sure they’re the ones doing all of the work.
#2: Grow Comfortable with saying “No”
This can be one of the hardest things for a person pleaser to do. You feel guilty when you don’t do exactly what someone else asks. It’s like it is your personal mission to make their life easier; even if it means making yours harder.
However, if you ever want to get over being a people pleaser, you have to grow comfortable with saying “no” to some things. One of the best ways to ease into this is to at least stop yourself from immediately saying “yes” when asked to do something.
For instance, if a friend calls you and asks you to sit on a committee that you’d rather not, instead of agreeing to do it when you really don’t want to, thank her for your invitation and ask for time to consider it. That way you can formulate your response without just blurting out that you’d love to help her (when you’d really rather swim with sharks).
Plus, remember that turning down some things that you’re asked to do is okay. You don’t have to be Superwoman and take on everything that everyone asks of you.
#3: Own your own opinion
When you spend all of your time trying to make other people happy, you lose yourself in the process. It’s like you’re afraid to say something one way or another for fear that you’re going to upset someone (essentially, you become the icon of a fence sitter). You don’t say much because you’d rather not express a different opinion and risk rocking the boat, so to speak.
However, you need to realize that your opinion is just as valuable as everyone else’s. You have a right to believe what you’d like about anything. And, people have a right to not agree with you. That doesn’t make either of you wrong; it just means that you view things differently.
Sure, if you don’t know much about the topic being discussed, you certainly don’t want to say something just to have an opinion. That would make you sound foolish and, in that case, you may want to ask more and learn as much as you can. But, if you have an intelligent and fact based opinion, by all means share it!
#4: Lose the excuses
A common trait amongst people pleasers is feeling the need to explain everything you do. It’s like you have to justify your reasons to everyone else so that they can see exactly why you’ve made the decisions you have. It’s important to have their “blessing”.
Here’s a thought to consider: You don’t owe anyone else justification as to your thoughts, actions or feelings. The only one you have to answer to is yourself so don’t think you have to give a ten minute dissertation as to why you did or did not do something.
Now, there is one caveat to this, and you may have already guessed what it is. If your actions directly affect someone else, then you may reasonably owe them an explanation. That is more than understandable and even expected because you care about them and don’t want to hurt them.
However, if your actions have nothing to do with the person that you’re talking to, save your breath because you don’t owe them anything.
#5: Take small steps
Changing your life from doing everything you can to make everyone else happy to essentially standing up for yourself takes time. If you try to jump into it, you’ll likely wind up feeling so bad that you’ll give up the process and just back to your people pleasing ways.
Take small steps. You don’t have to overhaul your life all in one day and become this pillar of strength that you’ve created in your mind. There can sometimes be a fine line between doing everything else for others and doing nothing, and it may take you some time to realize where it is and how not to cross it.
Be patient with yourself because you’re going to take a couple of steps back along the way. It’s hard to break habits and patterns you’ve had your entire life. Go easy on yourself and just keep trying.
Again, there is nothing wrong with bringing others happiness. But, if you’re losing yourself in the process, then it isn’t fair to you. You have to find a way to be you without feeling guilty about it.
Try these five things and you’ll be well on your way.