If you are a people pleaser (PP), this is for you.
The desire to help others and to be of service is a beautiful gift. When used in a way that strengthens us, it can be the best thing ever.
There is a fine line between helping in a way that is in the highest good for all, and simply abandoning our own feelings, needs, and desires.
What are the real costs of saying NO to your own needs, desires, and feelings?
I have had this habit and have observed it in many of my clients. Here are some of the consequences:
– chronic fatigue
– lack of joy
– depressive tendencies
– emotional eating
– major trouble in relationships
– physical pain
– lack of motivation
– desire to check out
Bottom line, putting other people’s needs and demands before our own does not help anybody.
When you are ready to exercise your assertiveness muscle, here are some powerful steps you can take
TAKE BACK YOUR POWER.
Chances are that you might be feeling like a victim to other people’s demands, or think that you do not have a choice. We teach people how to treat us. Your friends, family, or boss might call on you all the time for favors, because you have always said “YES”. So can we really blame them? Are they really taking advantage or are you allowing it? Taking 100% responsibility for your habit might seem strange or even unfair, but please know that this is the most empowering step you can take towards living a life that feels really good on the inside.
GET REAL WITH YOURSELF.
Take some time to get honest with your feelings. Notice that you might be really exhausted, resentful, sad, or feel majorly underappreciated. People pleasers tend to be out of touch with their own feelings, because much of their time is spend on others. Take some time to contemplate, talk or write it out.
MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR ANGER.
This one is tricky. PPs are super uncomfortable with their anger. It almost seems easier to just do what is asked of us, then to feel this feeling we don’t want to feel. Anger is a very natural and normal human experience. Notice where in your body you feel that feeling. Many of my clients describe it as a tense feeling in the chest, a fire burning in the stomach, or a lump in the throat. Or maybe it has manifested itself as headaches, stomach aches, joint pain in knees or hips, or as digestive issues. Writing in a journal keeps us from turning that anger inward. Simply acknowledging that we feel angry can be such a relief. Going for a walk, having a dance party, or screaming into a pillow can relieve the physical tension associated with anger.
TAKE A TIMEOUT.
When you are asked to do something, create a little check-in-with-yourself-buffer by saying “Let me get back to you.” This gives you enough time to write, pray, or meditate on what is in the highest good. The more you practice this, the quicker you will know. If the answer is not a “f!yeah”, it is a “hell no”. By the time you get back to that person, they may have found somebody else. If not, practice saying “Thank you for asking, and it does not work for me.” BAM. No explanation or justification necessary.
FILL UP YOUR LOVE TANK.
This is vital for all people pleasers. Take at least 30 minutes each day to do something you really LOVE. Take a Yoga class, go for a walk, take yourself to your favorite restaurant, get a massage, go to the movies, read a book, take an art class, whatever floats your boat. Having a hobby that is just for you fills up your love tank for sure. Or create a nurturing morning ritual. Start the day by taking care of yourself first.
SPEAK YOUR TRUTH.
Besides saying NO, keep practicing on communicating what you really need and want. All of my people pleasing clients have been afraid not to be liked when they speak their truth. And while some people need a little bit of time to adjust, people tend to love us more for being authentic. And by speaking up for yourself, you inspire others to do the same.
When you spend your time always doing what other people want, you may have forgotten or disconnected from your own passions. To rekindle your light, take action. Passion follows action. Sometimes we just have to try new things out to know what really brings us joy. Or think back what you loved doing as a child that made you forget about time and worries.
Most people pleasers apologize all.the.time. When somebody steps on your foot, it is not your fault. When you have to work or take care of your family and cannot pick your friend up from the airport, not your fault. You are doing nothing wrong by attending to your life, by being yourself, by honoring your needs. I often joke with my friends and clients to pay me a dollar for every unnecessary apology..that would be a lucrative business. As mentioned above, you do not owe anybody an explanation. Keep it short and sweet when you decline.
STOP MAKING ASSUMPTIONS.
This is a big one. PPs like to assume that when somebody complains about something, that the person wants help. Most of the time, people just want to be heard and validated. Encouraged perhaps. Trusted that they can do thing on their own, for sure. Unless they ask for help, just listen.
This ties in with making assumptions. Usually, when you make up stories about what the other person wants, you find yourself jumping in to help before they even ask. You do not have to ‘rescue’ everyone, just because they are having a bad day, or are complaining about something. Get into the habit of trusting that everyone can take care of themselves, unless they directly ask for your help. I find it helpful to ask what they need when I am starting to make up stories: “Do you want me to listen, or do you want my help?” This allows the other person to empower themselves to speak their truth, and for you to stay centered.
UP YOUR SELF WORTH.
People Pleasers often define their worth on how much they help others. They deep down believe that they are only good enough or deserving when they take care of everybody else. Slowly begin to detach yourself and find your worth in this: YOU ARE WORTHY AND LOVABLE BECAUSE YOU EXIST. We are born good enough, and nothing we do can add or subtract to that. Whatever or whoever created us surely did not sit there and think “everybody is worthy, but you. You are going to have to work your ass off to deserve happiness.” I say BS! Just imagine how great life could be if you entertain the idea that you are good enough.
F! THE ‘SHOULDS’.
PPs often experience guilt when they say NO, or do what they think they are ‘supposed’ to do. Let’s face it, ‘shoulds’ and ‘supposed tos’ are on every corner. As though ‘they’ know what is best for you. Keep in mind that by doing what is best for you, you are also doing what is in the highest good for all. You at your happiest and healthiest allows you to really help in ways that uplift everybody. Releasing that habit of experiencing guilt might take a little while. Remember that you are in charge. Nobody can make you feel anything, unless you let them.
BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF.
PPs are often very critical with themselves, and super compassionate with others. Offer yourself the same kind of best friend gentleness. Notice when you beat yourself up and change that inner dialogue. What would you say to your best friend?
CHANNEL YOUR GIFT.
Now that you have freed up so much time and energy, balanced out your relationships, and filled up your love tank by taking precious care of yourself, it is GO time. Your desire to help is your gift. Look for opportunities to make a difference. Find something that energizes you. Get involved in a cause that is dear to your heart and makes you feel stronger.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.
There is always a golden middle between the extremes. Between being a pushover and being a bitch, there is a sweet spot. Practice these steps one by one, and stay with it. It takes time to cultivate a new habit. Sometimes the pendulum swings too far over to the other side. If you find yourself acting like a b*tch, now would be a good time to apologize and let the person know that you are practicing being assertive, and are feeling sad for coming on too strong. Ask them for their patience, support, and understanding. Most everybody is happy to do so.
Now off you go, speaking your truth, feeling energized and free.