People Pleasers: How to Balance Self-Care and Serving Others E8
During the last episode of the year, Sareta (a confessed recovered people pleaser) and Chioma (a part-time people pleaser) welcome their first special guest of the season – Natalie Lue.
Natalie Lue is a blogger, author, speaker, podcaster, artist and thought leader on relationships and human behaviour who helps people eliminate emotional baggage clutter for better relationships, self-esteem and work.
She’s featured on the BBC and in publications such as The New York Times, Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan and Glamour magazine.
Natalie’s podcast, The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, has over 2 million downloads and has been turned into a highly popular Shortcast for Blinkist.
Her next book, The Joy of Saying No, is due for release in October 2022.
Do you know people pleasers? Are you a people pleaser? Whether the answer is “yes”, “no”, or “hmmm, I’m not sure”, grab and pen and note-pad and take notes while you listen to the podcast.
Did you ever think of people-pleasing as a form of manipulation? Probably not. Well, Natalie breaks down precisely what people-pleasing is, the various types of people-pleasing and the devastating consequences that can come from this habit.
The ladies discuss work, sexual and family relationships. Natalie also shares some sage advice on reducing the resentment that can build during the festive season – dealing with “Negging” and “chopping” and the difference between a hard NO and a soft no.
What distinguishes the difference between a helpful person who is friendly and accommodating and a people pleaser is their inability to stop. Most will weigh the pros and cons and consider their thoughts, feelings or capability to take up a task or do something for that person. A people pleaser’s response will always be “yes” and take on the responsibility or a duty regardless of whether it’s to their detriment. For instance, they may agree to take on an extra workload when they struggle to complete theirs. They may attend a night out with friends when they don’t want to go. The problem with this type of agreement, although they momentarily feel happy they’ve pleased the other person, resentment can consume them.
Undoubtedly, other issues can arise, such as burnout, depression, or health issues.
People-pleasing is associated with a personality trait known as sociotropy– an extreme investment in interpersonal relationships and autonomy characterised as excessive concern with personal achievement and control.
They may also be overly concerned with pleasing others and earning approval to maintain relationships.
This behaviour can be a symptom of a mental health condition like:
- Anxiety or depression4
- Avoidant personality disorder
- Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
- Codependency or dependent personality disorder
Natalie explains that when we sense or know something, we need to change course, but we go ahead anyway. We’re always self-critical in the aftermath. We beat ourselves up for not having listened to ourselves.
It’s not unusual after a challenging experience to wonder what life lessons we might take from it.
Whether it comes from wanting to avoid making the same mistake again, ensuring we take better care of ourselves, or simply wanting to understand what happened, we can feel desire, possibly even pressure, to get it figured out.” – Natalie Lue
Natalie shares these familiar themes to life lessons:
- Listening to, respecting and valuing ourselves so we can reclaim and own ourselves. In other words, cut back on people pleasing, perfectionism, over giving, overthinking, and over-responsibility
- Needing to slow down and respect our (and possibly other people’s) boundaries
- Relying on assumptions and biases
- Giving away our power
- Needing to process a particular experience/judgement/story in our emotional baggage
7 Ways To Stop Being a People Pleaser
Be authentic, and stop trying to fit in
The most important thing to do is be yourself. Avoid doing something or acting in a certain way to seek validation.
Don’t be afraid of relaying your thoughts, feelings and opinions. The right people will respect you more for doing so.
If you become a “yes” person, you’ll invite toxic people into your life. They’ll take advantage, and it’ll be a challenge to get rid of them.
Learn to say “NO”
You are allowed to say no!
It’s okay to put yourself first and say “no” if someone asks you for something you don’t want to do or if they ask you for something unreasonable or impossible.
If you find that certain people don’t accept or respect your “no, ” you may realise you’ve placed yourself in a toxic or narcissistic relationship.
Stop saying “yes” to everything; people will soon realise that you can make decisions and stand your ground. It may not be easy initially, but you’ll feel better in the long run.
Self-care is not selfish.
Set healthy boundaries
People-pleasers are often unaware of the boundaries they need to set. But you can start by acknowledging what you are doing and saying.
Do you feel resentful while undertaking tasks you agreed to? If so, that’s a sure sign you are a people pleaser.
If your workload is too heavy, delegate, and don’t accept more– be honest. If you don’t want to go to a punk-rock concert with a friend because you love Beyonce, it’s okay to say that.
You will not be punished or criticised in healthy relationships because of your honesty or preferences. If you are, that’s their problem, not yours.
Stop making excuses
When you stop making excuses, you’ll have more time and energy to do what you want. You’ll feel more in control of your life and less of a victim to other people’s demands.
If you use money, childcare, or dates as an excuse, the person may find a solution. You’ll end up doing what they wanted you to and feel you owe them a favour. Don’t allow yourself to fall into that trap. You are entitled not to want to do something because you don’t feel like it. Your decision shouldn’t affect the other person’s feelings; their emotions are not your responsibility.
Listen to your inner voice
Your mind or body will give you that first response. Do you hear a little whisper saying, “I can’t do it; I don’t have time”, or feel an overwhelming sense of dread? That’s your cue to listen and trust yourself.
Is there someone in your life that you must “take with a pinch of salt” or try to avoid? Ask yourself this, why are they in your life? You’d feel better if you used your energy to focus on mutually beneficial, healthy relationships that make you feel good. It would be best if you had people in your life who uplift you, care for you, and positively share your wins.
Remember that you can’t please everyone
There are many different types of people in this world, and you can’t please all of them! Friends and family will always disagree, but the small things should affect your relationship.
If you disagree, say so. If you can’t be there for them, say so. There should be equal measures of give and take in your relationships, so remember, both of you should put yourselves first.
Yes, sometimes someone may need a favour and need your help. Think about if you can help and if that person would help you. If the answer is yes, you may say yes in this situation if they are stuck. But, if you’re going to expect something in return or take on the task and do it half-heartedly, you’re doing so from a place of resentment.
Love and accept yourself
We’re all made to think that we must always be perfect, and that’s the only way that people will accept us. In reality, people have flaws, and that’s okay! Everyone has off days or bad moods. Acknowledge your behaviour. Don’t take it out on others or the project; if you do, apologise. Just don’t make a habit of it.
If you have acknowledged your behaviour, there’s no need to dwell on past situations. Beating yourself up about things will only manifest into self-loathing, which is detrimental to your health.
Everyone makes mistakes; it’s what you do next that truly matters.
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