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  • Writer's pictureShumay Counseling

People Pleasing

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

People pleasing, saying yes to everything. These behaviors can leave you feeling worn-out and resentful. Try some new ways of resolving "people pleasing ."

Someone has asked you to commit to something...again. You don’t want to agree. In fact, you know you don’t have the time for the commitment, but you say “yes” anyway.

Your friend asked you to come over. You would rather stay home and focus on catching up on a project for work. Yet somehow you say “yes” when you mean “no”.

You want to tell your co-worker that you do not want to hear about office drama, but you'd do not know how to create that boundary, so you nod and listen with everything she says.

You are officially a “people pleaser”. You find yourself saying “yes” to everything; you often say yes when you mean no. You commit to take on tasks or attend social engagements when you would like to decline. You keep your thoughts to yourself to keep the peace.

This can be an exhausting way to live. You wear yourself down saying yes to keep others happy, and you often resent the time and energy you put into things that you are not passionate about.

Here are some ways you can start to recover from your people pleasing tendencies:

1) Start Small. If you always visit family for Christmas, or your are known for being the first volunteer for your work’s annual charity event, you will likely experience anxiety if you start by stepping away from these big events. Perhaps you can begin by not offering to do the Monday morning coffee run, or you decide not to attend a soccer game for your niece or nephew on a Saturday morning.

2) Remember that “No” is a complete answer. You can decline a request of invitation with a polite “no”, but you do not have to explain or give an excuse for your decision. “That doesn’t work for me” is also a polite, but clear, way to say “no”.

3) You don’t owe an apology for your “no”. You can’t take on a volunteer opportunity? You don’t have to apologize. This implies you feel responsibility, or guilt, for leaving the other person without a solution. But it was not your responsibility in the first place, so give a polite “no” and wish them the best in finding a volunteer.

4) You aren’t responsible for someone else’s feelings. People pleasers typically worry about what someone will think of them if they say “no” or express an opposing opinion. However, it is not your fault if someone feels disappointed, frustrated or angry with your opinions or boundaries. Practice being okay with the discomfort that comes when someone else feels disappointed by your need to say “no”.

Try practicing these and other skills to overcome your people pleasing. You will be surprised at how quickly you feel better about being honest about your opinions and your availability.


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