4 tips to stop being a people pleaser
It’s common to hear about bullying among children, but millions of adults are also bullied. This is especially true for people pleasers who are often the primary target of bullies.
People pleasers tend to give into unspoken social pressures, according to one study. If a people pleaser’s friend was having a dessert (candy, in this particular study), the pleaser often matched the amount their friend ate just so they wouldn’t feel uneasy about what they were consuming.
“While it is great to get along with everyone, it’s important to realize that this isn’t always going to be the case,” says Marie Mauter, employee assistance program counselor at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill. “Some people pleasers are continuing to play a role they held in their family of origin. Oftentimes, it is accompanied by low self-esteem.”
Mauter offers four tips to break the trap of people-pleasing:
- Be aware. Start noticing when you people please. What are the usual circumstances? Who are the people that trigger it? Why do you think you do it? How might you handle yourself differently next time? Journaling about this can also be very helpful.
- Understand where it comes from. Look back at your life and try to identify when you started to do this. How did you get the idea that you had to accommodate the needs of others more than your own? As a child, did you get a lot of praise for people-pleasing?
- Know the difference between being kind and pleasing. We can still be kind and not people-please. Notice when in your heart you genuinely want to do something for someone versus when you’re doing something just because you fear consequences if you don’t do it.
- Get professional help. If you’re surrounded by people who don’t respect you and want to bend you to their will, it does wonders to work with a professional who can help you appreciate your true worth and encourage you to stand up for yourself.
“People pleasers need to learn that it is OK to say ‘no,’ especially in circumstances where they feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed,” Mauter says. “It’s also helpful to realize that people probably won’t care as much as the people pleaser thinks.”
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