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Is It Possible to Overcome People-Pleasing?

people pleasing people-pleasers Jun 16, 2024
Is It Possible to Overcome People-Pleasing

The short answer is yes, you can overcome people-pleasing. As you work to overcome people-pleasing you will be challenged and you will become more confident.

Overcoming people-pleasing is challenging because doing things differently will make you feel scared and anxious–it goes against your instincts on how to be safe in relationships.

When my clients are faced with this issue, I tell them, “Anything worth doing is worth doing awkwardly at first.” It’s a reminder that when we start to make changes it feels weird and that feeling makes you want to stop. That weird, awkward feeling tricks you into believing that you are doing it wrong, or it just isn’t you, or you will upset someone. In short, it will be a disaster.

But it won’t be a disaster and the more you try, the easier and less awkward it will get.

Here are six things you can do to work on reducing your people-pleasing.

  1. Start with small things. It’s easier to make changes if the stakes aren’t too high. For example, you could express a desire to do something you and your partner don’t typically do and see how they respond. Or you could pick something you’d rather not do and say no if someone asks you to do it.
  2. Put off saying yes. We often have an impulse to say yes right away. Maybe you’d like to accommodate the request but you likely have lots of experience later regretting your agreeableness. If you tell the requester that you will need to get back to them, you give yourself time to consider whether you actually want to do it or if it would be too burdensome for you.
  3. Challenge common assumptions that take away your rights as a person. For example, we often believe it’s not okay to be selfish. In reality you need to put yourself first sometimes and it isn’t being selfish. (Read my blog article on this topic: https://www.drjulieshafer.com/blog/how-to-tell-if-you-are-being-selfish) Get a list of common assumptions in my Effective Communication Workbook for People-Pleasers.
  4. Learn to communicate assertively. Assertive communication is a perspective that helps you get your message across while minimizing the chances the other person will get upset with you. There is more about assertive communication in my Effective Communication Workbook for People-Pleasers to help you out with this.
  5. Practice self-compassion. The fact of the matter is that you aren’t perfect and that’s exactly as it should be. Unfortunately, we usually make ourselves wrong for any little thing that seems like a mistake. Practice self-compassion by talking to yourself in the same way you’d talk with a friend if they had your concern. You can read more about self-compassion here.
  6. Learn the difference between being nice and people-pleasing. There is such a thing as being too nice. If you are too nice, people will take advantage of you. You can tell if you are being “too nice” by the way you feel when you help the other person. If it makes you feel resentful or guilty, you were being “too nice.” You want to be able to accommodate requests out of kindness and love, not resentment.

If people-pleasing is hampering your happiness in relationships and making love elusive, consider getting a coach or therapist to help you out. In the meantime, start working on one of these six things. By starting with one thing on the list, you are starting small. 

Overcoming people-pleasing is possible and you can do it, one step at a time.

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