By: Emma Sloan
“The person who tries to keep everyone happy often ends up feeling the loneliest.” -Anonymous
With 54% of people pleasers being women (myself included!), it’s time to put our collective foot down and engage in the ultimate act of self-love: prioritizing ourselves.
If you identify as a recovering people pleaser (or have people-pleasing tendencies you want to nip in the bud!), read on for 3 crucial action steps to set the boundaries you deserve.
What is People-Pleasing?
People-pleasing stems from the deep-seated emotional need to please others… often at the expense of your own happiness.
While often misunderstood as acts of goodwill, people-pleasing actually comes from a desire to feel loved and secure to mitigate the risk of being socially ostracized. People pleasers often:
- Feel responsible for the emotions of other people
- Apologize frequently, even when it’s unwarranted
- Have an inability to say “no”
- Go to great lengths to avoid potential conflict
- Have difficulty setting boundaries
- “Mirror” other peoples’ likes and dislikes
Although people-pleasing may come across as nice behavior, it can prevent the person doing it from forming genuine connections with others–after all, how can anyone really get to know you if you’re actively trying to prevent people from knowing the real you?
Let’s correct that.
Action Step #1: Give Yourself Time to Make Decisions
This is especially easy if you’re prone to making plans or accepting work-related projects over text and email.
By giving yourself time to make decisions, you can give yourself more time to say “no” and be firm in your boundaries. If you’re unsure if you want to go to that party or take on that new responsibility at work, it can also give you the space you need to deliberate.
However, that doesn’t mean you should overthink your decision: yes, you should consider your priorities, but make sure that the decision you come to is the one that feels best for you–not your boss, or your friends, or your family, or anyone else. Just you.
Action Step #2: Don’t Apologize When Setting a Boundary
It can be tempting to cushion your boundary-setting with an apology, even if you aren’t actually sorry.
Putting yourself first shouldn’t mandate an apology, though: when you apologize, you’re prioritizing someone else above you.
Being able to set a boundary or say “no” without apologizing, explaining, or excusing it can propel you on the path to being a more confident and self-assured human being.
Action Step #3: Chat With a Therapist
Talking with a professional will work to identify why you people-please and sift through the inner concerns that are guiding your people-pleasing compulsions.
Therapy has the added bonus of helping you form long-term healthy coping mechanisms in the lieu of people-pleasing. This can include, but isn’t limited to, identifying situations that trigger people-pleasing thoughts, acknowledging what relationships in your life may be currently benefiting from your people-pleasing tendencies (at your detriment!), and encourage positive thinking.
Ready to Kick People-Pleasing to the Curb? This is Your Sign
Whether being a people pleaser for you stems from mirroring behaviors you saw in childhood, a fear of being excluded, or anything in between, it’s never too late–or early!–to reform these habits.
Peace of mind, more genuine connections, and a bolstered sense of confidence is right around the corner. Take this as your sign.