Are you a people-pleaser like me?
Is the idea of just saying, “No” one that doesn’t come easily? Grab a pew and let’s chat!
Shonda Rhimes wrote a book titled – ‘Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person’. With three children at home and three hit television shows, it was easy for Shonda to say she was simply too busy. (<– no kidding!) But in truth, she was also afraid. And then, over Thanksgiving dinner, her sister muttered something that was both a wake-up and a call to arms: You never say yes to anything. Shonda knew she had to embrace the challenge: for one year, she would say YES to everything that scared her.
Me, I’m the opposite of Shonda. I have difficulty saying, “no”… I am a people-pleaser.
a person who has an emotional need to please others often at the expense of his or her own needs or desires
How about you?
Do you find saying, “No” challenging?
Are you one of those people who is forever being asked for a favour?
Is your diary filled up with helping other people with their ‘stuff’?
Have you created the expectation that you’re always there for everyone else?
Want an example of just how extreme my challenge with this little life-conundrum is? Every week I tootle off to the farmers market for my weekly produce shop. I pay the farmers and producers for their lovely product. I love connecting with the people who grow and produce my food. I’m grateful to have such a great resource available to me. But, often – before I even realise I’m doing it – I hear myself offering to bring samples of what I make from their wares back to them to sample.
So, when I whip up a batch of hauskraut or golden kraut – I have been known to offer a jar back to my vegetable growers. I’m literally returning their produce after paying for it, admittedly in a slightly altered and arguably more nutritionally available state. More often than not, I’ve affixed a pretty label, too.
So, I’m saying yes to something before I’ve even been asked…
Issues with boundaries? Me? Surely you jest!
How cray-cray does that make me?
This need I have to please others and say yes before considering my needs is a very common phenomenon amongst my clients, too. And, it’s really important in the context of how we manage stress.
Because doing good things for others can very easily get out of hand. When it does, you can find yourself spending too much time trying to please others and not enough on you. Over time, this can become the habit of a LIFETIME!
Here’s the thing, I recognise that I’m the one who is creating the expectation that I’m always available. And, thusly it’s in my power to change this expectation.
A bazillion years ago, while studying psychology at university, one of my biggest take-ways from my behavioural psychology lectures was this:
“You cannot change the behaviour of others. You can only change your own.”
So, I must change my behaviour…
Why? Why do i feel the need to ALWAYS say, “yes” to others?
If I’m being honest, it makes me feel good; liked and validated. I really don’t like feeling that I have let somebody down. I like the idea that people think of me in a certain way and that I am reliable.
The thing is, saying “yes” all the time is kind of exhausting. It takes significant amounts of time and energy. It causes me stress. Some balance is called for.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being there for others and helping them with their ‘stuff’. It’s part of what it means to be human, after all. I don’t want to stop doing that. Rather, I want to temper it a little.
It’s when we lose perspective about how much and how often we are there for others that it may become a problem. I know that when I feel the need to please even people I barely know, I’ve gone a smidge too far. And, when I first sat down and thought about my patterns of behaviour, I recognised that I needed to learn to just say no. Even to myself!
Because every time I put the needs of others before my own I am sending myself a message that my needs aren’t as important as other’s; that taking the time for myself is indulgent and selfish.
So, here’s how I’m learning to just say no.
I’m taking a leaf out of Eleanor Roosevelt’s book.
Since, as she asserts, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent, I’m actively withdrawing my consent.
And I’m pausing.
I’m a BIG fan of the pause.
I’m thinking before I’m acting. I’m actively working on setting up boundaries that protect me and my needs. Developing more ways to just say no without feeling guilty or damaging my important relationships. And, just saying no.