I admit it. I used to say yes a lot when I really meant no. Why? Because I was scared. I didn’t want to disappoint the other person, make them mad, hurt their feelings, or most importantly be rejected by them. As a kid I was shy, socialized like many young girls to be polite, kind, agreeable. Saying yes often won me praise from teachers, friends, employers and reinforced in my mind that saying ‘Yes’ was good and saying ‘No’ was rude and selfish.
Fast forward several years, and this same behavior lead to some serious burnout, resentment, and low self-confidence. I felt trapped. I knew I wanted to say no to many situations but lacked the tools to say it without experiencing tremendous anxiety about how the other person may react. This lead me to reach out to a coach, who ever so kindly told me “People pleasers are liars!” This statement was a jolt I needed to change, and she helped me understand and dismantle unhelpful thought patters that were contributing to my stress.
What is people pleasing?
“Daring to set boundaries is about have the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others”. ~Brene Brown
People pleasing as I see it is a pattern of thinking and behaving in a way that prioritizes what other people think over what YOU think. It involves sacrificing pleasing yourself to please someone else. What has been transformational for me to understand is that people pleasing is about trying to control what someone else thinks about us. This works 0% of the time! Trust me, I’ve tried a million times. We can’t control other people.
You cannot control someone else’s thoughts or feelings no matter what you say or do. Remember, their thoughts are what control their feelings, so we have no real power over what goes on in someone else’s mind. Even if someone does get mad it has helps me to know that it isn’t ME that they are mad at. That person is just having thoughts that are creating this feeling of anger for them. I can’t control that; nor do I want to. What I can control is deciding what is best for me. By honoring myself, I am actually able to be more loving and available to others.
Here are some helpful tips to remember to help you say NO:
~Don’t drag it out with a ‘maybe’ or ‘let me think about it’ if it really a NO from the start
~Don’t overexplain or apologize, (you are not doing anything wrong)
~Take a deep breath and remind yourself, the other person is responsible for their own thoughts and feelings, not you
~It is okay for other people to be upset
~Don’t lie in order to say NO, your integrity and self-confidence will take a hit
~Avoid ‘making up for it’ later by overextending yourself b/c you feel badly about your NO
~Be kind and polite when you say NO
~If you really struggle reach out to a coach or therapist, or a hybrid of both like myself J
~Find someone in. your life who you admire that has a strong NO, what how they do it
~Honesty is the best policy.
Lastly, I had to come to terms with the fact that sometimes you do risk losing the relationship. Sometimes people who have been used to you saying yes have a hard time. Often, they retreat and have to re-group and can re-engage in this relationship that feels different to them. If they do come back later on, this is an excellent opportunity to have a healthier relationship filled with honesty and love. If they do end up walking away, then you know the relationship could not withstand this type of integrity. And that’s okay.
If you struggle with this, or know someone who does, don’t hesitate to share this blog post, or schedule a complimentary mini-session @ http://bit.ly/2rD8YZk. Working with a coach on people pleasing recovery is transformational. If I can you can too! Have a great weekend. Don’t forget to train your mind as hard as you train your body to feel better and live your best life.