Saturday, February 04, 2012

Please yourself for once

I have a friend who is a serial apologiser. She starts almost every sentence with “I’m sorry, but…”. She seems to believe that by asking for something, no matter how small, or by saying no to something, will wreck all her relationships. So she lives in the land of apology – the classic state of a people pleaser – and importantly she doesn’t realise how much it limits her, and stresses her.

People pleasers tend to yearn for external validation – as if their personal sense of security and confidence is based on getting the approval of others. It is almost an addiction that makes them feel like they are needed. At the core, people pleasers lack confidence. What they don’t realise is that people-pleasing carries risks. You put pressure on yourself which can ultimately result in being over committed and overloaded. This will probably result in anxiety, sleep deprivation and depletion of energy resources. Not a good place to be. Here are some ideas starting with the most important:

1. Recognise you have a choice – you don’t have to say yes all the time

2. Stall for time – to remind yourself of that choice. Tell the other person you need to think about it

3. Be a fly on the wall looking in on your situation. Try to distinguish when others are taking advantage from those situations where you genuinely want to help. Breaking this habit is not a one track journey to saying no!

4. Don’t give loads of excuses – this will come across as defensive and enable the other person more wiggle room!

5. If something isn’t your fault don’t apologise. Get into the habit of saying sorry only when you need to

6. Think about who really matters to you and who you want to help and say yes to

7. Work out your boundaries and show stoppers and stick within them. If anyone asks for anything out of those parameters then say no

8. Congratulate yourself each time you don’t fall into the lure of people pleasing for people-pleasing’s sake. Then bottle the feeling to act as a motivator next time

9. Reframe what saying no can actually do - it has great benefits such as giving you more time to do with as you choose

10. Recognise there will not be catastrophic consequences. The fallout is never as bad as we think it will be

Remember you can’t be everything to everyone all of the time. And ultimately the only person you can absolutely know you have pleased is yourself. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”, so don’t give it. Then you can please yourself from time to time!

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