Happy Monday everyone and welcome back to Mental Health Monday on The Spoonie Mummy. Today I want to talk about something that really affects me and something I am working on for myself – people pleasing.
Are you a people pleaser? Do you find yourself saying yes when you really want to say no? Do you place other people’s feelings above your own? Do you yearn to be liked by everyone? Do you find it hard to ask for help? Do you hate confrontation? If you are answering yes to these sorts of questions, you may be a people pleaser too.
People pleasers are overly accommodating by nature, Much of my people pleasing comes from wanting to be accepted and trying to avoid confrontation.
It sounds almost childlike to say you just want to be liked – but as humans we have always had an inherent need to be accepted. Long ago, to ensure our survival, we would need to be accepted by people and liked enough to remain a part of the group. Understanding and accepting that this is a basic instinct and is completely natural is the first step in being able to make changes.
While wanting to be liked and accepted is not a bad thing, it does become an issue when we constantly need validation from others and in doing so, put our own needs last.
Up comes that buzz word again – self care. You all know I have issues with the way self care has been pushed in the world of social media, looking like we all need to be getting weekly facials and having weekends away etc. I think self care is so much more of a basic need – ensuring you drink enough during the day for example.
You need to start including yourself in the group of people that you take responsibility for – this may also include your children and partner. Schedule yourself and your needs into your to do lists. Remember the saying that is oh so true – you can’t pour from an empty cup. Taking care of your own needs will mean you have more to give to others.
Sometimes we really aren’t bothered when we are asked what we want for dinner, but sometimes we really fancy something and still tell our partner we don’t mind and they can choose.
You do not have to always agree with other people. Everyone has their own beliefs, values and opinions. It is entirely acceptable to have your opinion, to voice it and to let others share theirs. If you share your opinions and don’t agree that is fine – a true friend will understand your right to have your own voice.
This is an area I really struggle with. You are conflict-avoidant and will say things like – “it’s fine” and “no worries” on a regular basis when you are let down by someone. It can be grouped together with having an opinion and understanding that having a belief and standing by it is okay.
Sometimes, in a relationship, conflict and confrontation can actually be healthy. Me and Ste had a rough patch a few months ago and part of it was because I wouldn’t speak up for myself and what I needed. I would go along with everything and pretend it was fine, yet inside I was just growing resentful and tired. By opening up and discussing the issues, we have pulled through stronger than ever. Sometimes we may see certain situations differently, but only by talking about it can we come to a middle ground that we are both happy with.
You need to stop apologising for being yourself. You do not need to take ownership of every problem you come across, especially when they belong to others. When you are tempted to apologise, take a minute and just listen. Someone may be complaining to you about their job or their relationship, but it is not your responsibility to apologise for the situation they find themselves in. Be a good friend and just listen.
This has been a tough one for me to get my head around but I am definitely making progress. A few weeks ago we picked up Ste’s daughter and when she got in the car she said, “Nat Nat, you know, my mummy doesn’t like you”. For a second I nearly sniped back “well I don’t like her either” but obviously that would have been inappropriate. Ste was quite upset and explained that it wasn’t a nice thing for her Mummy to say and asked if she liked me, which she said yes to. I was quiet for the whole journey home as I didn’t know what to say. However, when I got home I realised the reason I was upset was because Little Lady had obviously been told this or had been present around a conversation about it which I think is highly inappropriate. I was actually not concerned about the fact she did not like me which was a refreshing realisation. I think I do a good job with Little Lady when she is here, I love her, care for her, meet her needs and entertain her.
It is a natural instinct to want to be liked, but that does not mean we need to be liked by everyone. When we do, we fall into the trap of wanting to please them. Previously I may have messaged her to find out why she had said that, worried about what I had done to upset her and caused myself to stress about the situation which would have been detrimental to both my mental and physical health. This time I didn’t need to. I haven’t done anything wrong or made any mistakes. We are unable to control other people’s feelings, you may never know what another person really thinks about you and that is okay – worrying about it will only negatively affect your welllbeing. You could be the nicest person on the planet and there will still be someone who doesn’t like you. Just remember that this is okay and the people who don’t like you, aren’t meant to be in your life anyway.
No matter how much you may be struggling, a people pleaser will still find it difficult to ask for help. Time is precious and the thought that someone will have to give you some of theirs is a troubling thought.
You will need to push aside your people pleasing tendencies and these uncomfortable feelings in order to solve this one, take the plunge and just ask. Most people will be willing to help and actually tend to be glad to help, as they feel useful.
When you start changing your people pleasing behaviour it will feel uncomfortable. Rather than running from these feelings, notice them. Allow yourself to feel them until they pass, safe in the knowledge that they will pass.
Putting yourself first when you need to is not selfish and you need to let go of that guilt.
Do things that make you happy rather than doing things to receive praise from others. Working on your self-worth and confidence in being yourself will be helpful. While receiving praise can be great, the real power comes from when you can learn to validate yourself. You have to build your self esteem from the inside, others can’t do that for you.
No one lives in your shoes and understands your life like you do. Sometimes you may want to make a change – in your career for example – and not everyone will understand or support you. Validating, loving and trusting yourself is the way you will be able to reach for your goals. You are capable of making decisions for yourself.
This is another one I really struggle with. If something doesn’t fit in with your schedule or priorities, you need to say no. There are many ways you can do this nicely and I thought some examples would be a good idea here, as simply saying no can be difficult at first.
Don’t fall into the trap of over explaining yourself. There are no words that will make everyone happy with everything you say and that is life. Just do your best and don’t waste time justifying yourself and your decisions.
Some people take people pleasers for granted and will exploit their kindness. Addressing this can cause some conflict with these types of people, but if they are true friends they will respect you, understand and stick around. Anyone who doesn’t just isn’t worth it.
I am not going to make out this is easy and it is something that is ongoing. I have been working on this for around six months now and still have a way to go but I already feel better for talking about this and beginning to address it. I am lucky that Ste has proactively encouraged me to speak up more, rather than allowing me to carry on as i was.
As someone with chronic illnesses, I do get poorly and tired and sometimes am not up for things. It can be difficult saying no but I know that my friends and family understand this and it is better than me doing something that makes me feel worse or having to cancel plans which then triggers feelings of guilt and anxiety as well as frustrating the person I was supposed to be seeing.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and if you can identify as a people pleaser, have learned some valuable tips to help you move forward. As always, if you have any mental health related topics you would like me to cover, please pop them in the comments below or you can pop me an email via the Contact Me page if you would prefer to stay anonymous. Keep safe and keep safe,