You Can’t Please Everyone (and That’s OK!)
Some people believe that the key to being liked and accepted by other people is to always try to please everyone.
Instead of making decision based on what they want, they make their decisions based on what they think will make other people happy.
If a friend wants to go for a movie, that is exactly what they’ll do, even if they don’t really feel like going to the movies.
If the boss wants them to work on their day off, they’ll do exactly that, despite the fact that they had some plans for their day off.
Such people think that being nice and agreeable and avoiding conflict makes them likeable and easygoing.
In reality, being nice all the time and trying to make everyone happy only makes your life miserable and attracts people who only want to use you because they know that you will always put their needs ahead of yours.
If you are such a person who always thinks about what others are feeling and tries to ensure that everyone is happy for you, this article is for you.
In this article, you will learn how to determine whether you are a people pleaser, why trying to please everyone is not good for you, and how you can get over this bad habit.
SIGNS THAT YOU ARE A PEOPLE PLEASER
Trying to please others is not inherently a bad thing. If you never please the people you interact with, you will never be able to form any lasting relationships with anyone.
However, if you aim to please everyone you interact with, all the time, your desire to please others becomes problematic.
Below are some signs that your people-pleasing tendencies are becoming a problem.
You Can’t Say No
Saying no basically means disappointing someone. People pleasers cannot imagine disappointing someone, so they have a hard time saying no to the requests of others.
It doesn’t matter if they are busy or if they have commitments, they will take up the requests of others while putting their own interests on the shelf.
Unfortunately, by saying yes to the requests of others means you are saying no to what’s actually important to you.
You Find It Hard Making Decisions
People pleasers find it hard to make decisions.
This is because they make decisions not based on what they want, but rather based on what they think other people want.
Therefore, even making simple decisions such as what to eat for lunch, what to wear, or where to go out for a date becomes difficult because you are worried what other people will think about your decision.
You Rarely Ask for Help
It is ironic that, while people pleasers will put their plans and commitments aside to help others, they are also the least likely to ask other people for help.
Unfortunately, this means that such people miss out on lots of opportunities in life, because you cannot make it in life on your own.
You Never Show Your True Emotions
People pleasers have a hard time showing their true emotions.
Even when they are feeling angry or sad, they will keep their emotions bottled, because they think that showing their true emotions will result in others rejecting them.
Therefore, they always try to appear happy, even when they are feeling something totally different on the inside.
Unfortunately, this means that other people will never truly know what a people pleaser is feeling, because they always mask their true emotions.
You Don’t Live According to Your Values
Everyone has things they value in life.
However, as a people pleaser, you hardly ever live according to your personal values, because you are more concerned about doing what others want of you.
For instance, you might value spending time with your kids on weekends, but because you want to please your friends, you end spending the entire weekend with your friends instead of spending it with your kids, which is more valuable to you.
You Have No Boundaries
It is healthy to have boundaries in life.
They determine what you are or not willing to put up with in life. As a people pleaser, however, you will have a hard time setting up boundaries, because setting up boundaries requires you to be assertive.
Therefore, a people pleaser will find it hard to speak up for themselves even when they are being taken advantage of, because it is more important for them to get liked than to let others know they are overstepping.
WHY BEING A PEOPLE PLEASER IS UNHEALTHY
There are a number of reasons why trying to please everyone is not good for you. These include:
It Is Impossible to Please Everyone
By trying to please everyone, you are placing yourself in an impossible situation. T
o please everyone, this means that you have to always agree with others opinions, ideas, and wants, comply with all their wishes, and never complain even when they do things you do not like.
However, even if you do all this, there are people who will never be satisfied, even if you do everything they want.
Like the popular saying goes, you can lie down for people to walk on you, and some will complain that you are not flat enough.
You Lose Your Identity
Everyone has their likes, their values, their personality, their life goals, and their interests.
Being authentic to your true, authentic identity means following your own goals and going after your own dreams.
When you are a people pleaser, however, the need to please others means you mold yourself into what others want.
You go after dreams you think others want you to go after, you engage yourself in the interests of others, you mold your personality to suit what others expect of you, and so on. Eventually, you end up losing your true identity.
You Tie Your Worth to Pleasing Others
People pleasers have an innate desire to be liked by everyone.
They believe that if they don’t act according to the wishes of others, they will be rejected.
Unfortunately, this puts you in a position where you sense of self-worth is derived from pleasing others.
This becomes problematic because you will always feel unworthy whenever others reject or belittle you.
You Put Your Needs on the Shelf
As a people pleaser, you are so focused on pleasing others that you forget about your own needs.
For instance, if your spouse asks you for money to buy something they want, you might give them the money, even if you had planned to spend it on something you wanted yourself.
When colleagues ask you to help them with their projects, you oblige and put your own projects on the backburner, causing you to miss your deadlines or deliver low quality work.
You Become Resentful
Everyone has their own needs.
We have already seen, however, that people pleasers will often put their needs aside in order to meet the needs of others.
The problem with this is that the people pleaser gradually starts becoming resentful.
They start thinking that others don’t care about their own needs, and therefore develop some internal hate towards these people, even though they will continue pleasing them outwardly.
Unfortunately, this resentment and suppressed emotions are unhealthy, both for your mental and physical health.
It Prevents Real and Meaningful Relationships
In order to form real and meaningful relationships with others, you need to be authentic and show your real self. You need to let the other person know what you like, what you dislike, what your real interests are, and so on.
As a people pleaser, however, you are always putting up appearances, masking your emotions and going along with the wishes of others.
Unfortunately, this is a fake version of you that you are projecting, and it will be impossible to build real, meaningful relationships when you are constantly projecting a fake version of yourself.
It Enhances Your Lack of Self-Worth
We already saw that people pleasers have a low sense of self-worth.
They derive their self-worth from acceptance by others. They think that their true self is not lovable enough, and therefore they pretend to be someone they are not so as to get others to accept them.
The problem with this, however, is that you actually convince others that your true self is not lovable, so people will continue treating your true self as an inferior person, perpetuating your need to pretend in order to be loved and accepted.
On the other hand, when you project your true self without caring whether others love you or not, it shows others that you actually love and value yourself, which will in turn make them start treating you as a more worthy person.
People Use You
When you are constantly trying to please everyone around you, you are essentially opening yourself to abuse by others.
People know that you will put their needs before yours, and therefore they will be constantly coming to you with all sorts of requests because they know you won’t be able to say no to them.
As a people pleasure, you become an easy target for bullies and manipulators.
The worst part is that you might not even realize you are being used and abused, because always being there for others makes you feel wanted.
HOW TO STOP TRYING TO PLEASE EVERYONE
Having seen all the problems that come with trying to please everyone, how can someone drop this destructive habit?
Dropping your desire to please others is not easy, since it requires you to change something that is deeply ingrained within your mind. It takes lots of hard work and lots of practice, and it doesn’t happen overnight. The good thing, however, is that it can be done.
Below, let’s take a look at some tips on how to stop being a people pleaser.
Admit You Have a Problem and Commit to Change
The first step to dropping your desire to please everyone around you is to admit that you actually have a problem that you need to work on.
Start by evaluating your relationships with others.
Do you find yourself constantly putting the needs of others before yours? Do you fear being rejected by others or being seen as a failure? Do you find it hard to say no? Do you struggle with decision making? Do you have trouble setting or keeping boundaries?
Once you determine that you actually have a problem, decide the areas where you want to make improvements.
For instance, if you find it hard saying no to the requests of others, commit to make improvements on this. If you struggle with decision making, decide how you are going to change this and commit to following through with what you decide.
Understand That It Is Not Your Job to Make People Happy
I said earlier that it is impossible to please everyone.
This is because happiness is an inside job. It’s not about what you do to others. It is about them.
For instance, the colleague you are trying so hard to please might find fault in everything you do, not because you are doing the wrong things, but because they are going through a rough patch in their marriage.
Your boss might be getting cross with you not because you are incompetent, but because their child is sick and this is stressing him.
Therefore, nothing you do will seem to please him.
Once you realize that others happiness is not about you, but about them, you will stop feeling the pressure to please others and gradually drop this damaging habit.
Pay Attention to Your Feelings
Stop paying attention to the feelings of others and instead pay attention to your own feelings.
Start pursuing whatever resonates with your true self. If something doesn’t feel good to you, don’t do it, even if your friends or colleagues feel that you should do it. Learn to listen to and trust your instincts.
Sometimes, you desire to please others might be so ingrained in your brain that you might not be aware that you are going against your true feelings.
However, every time you engage in people pleasing behavior, this will be followed by a negative feeling.
Paying attention to this negative feeling will allow you to be more aware of the circumstances in which you engage in people pleasing behaviors.
This will in turn make you better prepared to notice people pleasing behaviors before they happen and nip them in the bud.
Opt for Internal Validation Over External Validation
The desire to please others stems from the need to get validation and appreciation form others.
People pleasers want to feel needed, which is why they have trouble saying no to the requests and wishes of others.
Unfortunately, this makes their self-confidence reliant on the external forces, and therefore enhances their people-pleasing tendencies.
If you want to break from this chain, you need to stop relying on external validation and instead opt for internal validation. To build up your internal validation system, you need to start doing things that make you feel good.
The more you engage in things and activities that make you feel good, the less you need others to make you feel good.
Engage in activities you enjoy, remind yourself all the good things you have in your life, and hang around people who make you feel good without demanding anything from you.
Learn to Say “No”
Saying “no” is one of the greatest challenges for people pleasers, and therefore, if you want to let go of your people pleasing habits, you have to learn how to say no.
Saying “no” to people when you have always been the person to say “yes” is going to be difficult and uncomfortable in the beginning, and you will need to do some practice before it becomes natural to you.
Below are some tips that will make it easier for you to make this transition.
- Start with small nos. Something like saying no to your boss when they ask you to work over the weekend might be difficult at first, so start with something small. For instance, if a colleague who wants to stop by your desk for chit chat asks if you have a minute, say “No. I’m a bit busy right now.” As you get used to saying no to the small things, you will become more comfortable with it even in bigger situations.
- If you are afraid of the disappointment you cause by saying no, start by disarming the other person before saying no. For instance, if your colleagues ask you to go out after work when you don’t feel like it, disarm them by saying something like, “I appreciate the invitation.” The let them know that you won’t make it.
- Provide some help after declining. For instance, if a colleague asks for your help with a project when you are busy, decline their request, but then offer some help by recommending someone else who might help them.
- Don’t feel the need to explain yourself. For instance, if your boss wants you to work on your off day but you need to be elsewhere, you don’t have to explain that you need to take your kids to their grandparents or visit the doctor. Simply say that you have some things to take care of.
Don’t Be Driven by Guilt
One of the reasons why people pleasers find it hard to decline the requests and wishes of others is because they are driven by the guilt of not helping or not being there for others.
For instance, when your brother borrows some money, you give them the money you had already budgeted for because you feel guilty if you don’t help them.
Unfortunately, doing things because of guilt will often lead to exhaustion, burnout, and resentment.
Therefore, whenever someone needs something of you, take a minute to consider your motivations. If you really want to help them, and are in a good position to help, then go ahead and help them.
However, if you are offering help because you will feel guilty if you don’t, then you should decline their request, because you will probably be putting your needs aside in order to help.
Don’t Be Driven by Fear
Aside from guilt, another major motivation for people pleasers is fear. You are afraid that someone will stop being your friend. You are afraid that your boss will fire you.
You are afraid that your spouse will leave you.
In most cases, these fears are baseless.
Do you think your friends would stop being friends with you because you didn’t go drinking with them for one night? Do you think your spouse will separate from you because you couldn’t make it to their family reunion one time?
Highly unlikely, in all cases.
Before you engage in something you don’t feel like because of such fears, take a minute to think about the worst case scenario if you did what you actually wanted.
In most cases, you will realize that nothing much will happen.
Once you realize this, it will be easier to do what you want rather than give in to the whims of those around you.
Know What is Important to You
There’s a common saying that if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
Everyone has things that they consider important to them. If you don’t take time to determine what is important to your life, you will easily find yourself swayed to focus on what is important to others.
If friends ask you to do something with them, you will easily say yes because you don’t know what you should be doing yourself.
To avoid this, take some time to set some priorities in your life. Once you have priorities, it becomes easier to determine what to decline and what to say yes to.
For instance, if you decide that you need to finish a certain project today, you will say no to the colleague asking you to help with their project or the friend who want to pass by for idle chit chat, because your priority is to get the project done.
If your kids are your priority, you will easily decline any requests if they are going to take your time away from your kids.
Whenever you find yourself in a situation where you have to choose between doing something you want and something someone else wants you to do, ask yourself what is more important.
If your friends wants you to attend a party, but taking your sick pet to the vet is more important to you, let them know that you can’t make it to the party.
When you take the time to determine what’s important to you, you will find it easier to decline anything that is not in line with what is important to you.
If you have been the type of person who is always trying to please other people, it is time you realized that you cannot please everyone, and that there is nothing wrong with that.
Actually, trying to please everyone is detrimental for you.
Instead of trying to please everyone, it is time you made yourself a priority and started focusing on things that you want, things that make you happy.
Sure, you might lose a few friends when you do this, but ultimately, you will attract better friends and create more meaningful relationships.
Having given you some tips on how to stop trying to please everyone, I am going to give you a disclaimer.
Don’t expect to make a 180 degree turn overnight.
Instead, focus on taking baby steps, focus on one habit at a time, and gradually, you will replace your people pleasing tendencies and become more confident.
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