There is nothing better than the person who is always helping out. But if that person is you and you are the only one who is helping out then it’s really not so great after all. Many of us have a not so hidden “people pleaser” inside of us that craves approval, attention or both, especially from people in authority.
This probably stems back to our childhood when we sought to get the nod of approval from a demanding, if not difficult, parent. We continue with these patterns through our friendships and into our relationships and working careers and while it sometimes achieves the desired result, more often than not, it also feels like we are being used.
Here is a little test, courtesy of St. Louis writer Tamiko Cuellar at http://www.examiner.com/x-25339-St-Louis-Evangelical-Examiner
How do you know if you are being used?
- You find it hard to say no.
- You feel obligated to do what people ask you to do.
- You do things just to please other people.
- You constantly seek others’ approval of you.
- You let people guilt you into doing things that you really don’t want to do.
- You are always there for people but have no one to depend on when you are in need.
- You feel like doing things for people will secure their place in your life.
- You only feel like you are worth something when you are rescuing someone.
- You find yourself complaining that you give too much but keep doing it anyway.
- People often tell you that you are being used or are “too nice”.
If you answered Yes to more than one of these questions you may be a “people pleaser”.
If you answered Yes to 3 or more of these questions you are definitely a “people pleaser”.
So what can you do about it? Lots. But only if you are willing to change your behaviors, go through your fears, and stand up strong for yourself. Here’s a few suggestions. I’ll post more later in the week.
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 writer and the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.
You can buy Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People from the publisher in print or e-book:
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