In my last post I offered a quiz to help you identify if you were a “people pleaser”. Not that you needed my little questionnaire to tell you about your own lifelong habit of helping people with little or no return. The real point is to help you get out of a life in the service of others (unless you are in the French Foreign Legion or have taken a vow of obedience) and to learn to serve yourself first.
Start Small to Make Big Changes
So where do we start? The same way you would you eat an elephant. By taking small bites out of a big problem. But every small step you take to stop being a doormat is a step in the right direction.
Make Yourself a Priority
Take the time to know yourself and to recognize your needs. First. Before you start thinking about she or he or they would like you to do, think about me, myself andI.Put yourself first for a change.
Think, Think, Think
Before you say yes, take the time, even a few seconds, to think about it. Then just before you agree, think again. One more time, just pause and think about whether you really want to do that thing for someone else. If the answer is yes, go ahead.
Just Say No
If you don’t really want to do something, then just say no. How hard can that be? You learned to say no at around 2 and a half and they’ve been trying to get you to stoop doing that ever since. Say it with me. No. No. No,
Ah, boundaries. That’s where you end and I begin. Rediscover a new country, the country of YOU. You haven’t visited in a while. It’s the place where your needs and wants and dreams live. It’s a nice place. Make plans to visit often. Until you can learn to live here again.
When you do something good, like standing up for yourself, taking a small bite out of the elephant, or finally saying no, then give yourself a pat on the back. Better yet, buy yourself an ice cream, or a book, or a new pair of shoes. Acknowledge success so that you will be encouraged to keep going and get more.
Don’t Give Up
When you say yes when no was right on the tip of your tongue. Or when you put him or her or them first, again, don’t beat yourself up. The sovereign country of YOU wasn’t built in a day and you can’t change bad habits overnight. Get up off the mat, dust yourself off, and try again. Surely, but often slowly, you will get there.
Mike Martin is a freelance writer and consultant specializing in workplace wellness and conflict resolution. He is the author of “Change the Things You Can” (Dealing with Difficult People). For more information about Mike please visit: