Adam is a 20-year old college student with a laid-back, easy-going personality. He’s naturally good-natured and kind, and not very self-confident when dealing with assertive or aggressive people, especially authority figures.
As a result, he’s fallen prey to the “I’ll pay you back” sob stories of a family member, to the tune of about $3,000. He’s acquiesced to teachers strongly requesting that he participate in activities unrelated to class work. He’s given in to his employer asking him to work at the last minute for scheduled employees who couldn’t show.
On the third such request from his boss in one week – a request that would require him to cancel already-made plans, he hesitatingly said, “I’m sorry, I can’t come in.” When Adam discovered that saying no didn’t result in an earth-shattering response, like losing his job, he admitted, “Boy, that felt good!”
For the first time, Adam realized that it’s really okay to say no when he really wants to.
You matter more than me
Adam struggles with being a people pleaser. In his case, it’s mainly when he deals with people who have actual, or perceived, power over him. For others, it can be a problem with everyone.
A people pleaser is someone who’s internal compass has difficulty gauging the value of his/her own actions. This may come from instances, or a lifetime, of being dismissed or devalued in some way by parents or family, thereby stunting the development of healthy self-esteem. Or it may result from negative internal dialogue that is a characteristic of a personality type.
Either way, the people pleaser seeks others’ approval through always doing for, or giving others what they want while always discounting themselves.
Learn to love yourself
So how can a people pleaser get the victory over people pleasing behaviors?
- Accept that just being a breathing human being warrants you value and respect.
- Therefore, your needs and thoughts are just as important as others’.
- Believe that you have equal say with your opinions and behavior.
- So, courageously speak up when you don’t like something; ask for what you want; and say no when you want.
- Set boundaries.
Your first courageous step toward loving yourself will feel very un-comfortable. But the more you do it, the easier it’ll get; because the more you value yourself, the more loved you’ll feel.