Hello, my name is Josh and I am a people pleaser. Yes, it’s true, I people please. I’m a pleaser of people. I please people. Fantastic right?
What in the world is this all about really? I guess I should say, WHY IN THE WORLD!? If you take a step back and really look at the whole concept of people pleasing it’s rather funny. You are literally doing what you don’t want to do so that someone else doesn’t feel uncomfortable and yet you remain uncomfortable. WHATTTTTTTT is that about?! Don’t get me wrong there is a time and a place when it is a good thing to think beyond yourself, but when you do it more than what’s good for either party then it’s not healthy
For those that don’t understand this concept I’ll give you some real “JOSH” life examples.
(Pool party….Katy Perry fades in….) I’m walking around chatting it up with everyone using the good ole questions of “how you doing?”, “how’s work”, you know all the “good questions” start my conversations. I’ve learned from the many years of talking with patients that questions are a good strategy to assess the situation. You gain a little bit more ground if you know the WHOLE PICTURE of the person’s character with whom you are talking. Anyways, whether it’s a lack in confidence, understanding, or it’s just plain reality, I feel like I’m not “cool” enough. (Totally silly right?) This triggers the need for validation which then spirals down to overcompensation and becoming a “yes man”. I mean I’m not walking around saying yes to everything (OUT LOUD anyways) but in my own head I feel like I should be saying yes. I mean, I feel pressure to do something I don’t want to do before anyone even asks (and they might never ask). I already feel like a failure and literally no one asked me to do one thing. Is this not totally ridiculous? As I sit and type it’s easy to laugh about it because it makes no sense but nonetheless, it’s real!
(Phone rings) “Hey Booooo, you want to go see a movie?” (yawns) “I literally just walked in the door from work and working out. I haven’t showered or eaten yet. It will take me a good 30 mins to get ready.” (Friend responds) “You sure you don’t mind waiting? It could take more than 30 mins.” (Friend responds) “You haven’t eaten either? You’re craving that new oyster bar (barf)? Alright, I’ll see you in 30 mins and yes of course I’ll drive.” ……… Has this happened to anyone else? For all of those with FOMO (fear of missing out) then you probably read this story and felt joy as you weren’t left out (which I would probably feel too if I wasn’t invited even though all I really wanted to do was lay on the couch and brush my hair), but for those of us that people please this is dread on a hot plate.
Hopefully these two shining examples give you a snapshot of what it’s like in a people pleaser’s brain. It’s the simple act of saying yes when you really NEED to say no for your own good. Two common characteristics shared by those with a people pleasing tendency are a “fear of failure” and a “fear of rejection”. BOOM! (Breaks into song… “youuuuuuu are not alone, I am here with you”).
Let’s quickly define the two so that you get a better understanding on what it means so that we can tackle it and start drop-kicking it when it shows it’s nasty ugly face.
“Fear of failure” is the basic idea that if you make a mistake that you are going to be judged, criticized, or punished. This can stem from any event in your life but most develop this taste bud early on in the life. “Fear of rejection” (hand raises) is the idea that others will not think you are “cool enough” or that they will leave or neglect you if you don’t make them happy (or that they will shun you from all parties in the future because you ask awkward questions and didn’t put on your bathing suit and get in the pool….. (shakes head) – yes this stuff goes through my head at parties).
As you can see, neither of the two are really healthy. Each require courage to face your fears and challenge yourself to believe in your own value. You must know your own core beliefs and limitations to find the ground to stand on because if not you will be like a flag in a hurricane.
What are some ways to battle the people pleasing war that goes on within when someone asks you to do something that you don’t want to do (side note – I am not talking about drugs, sex, or anything illegal. THOSE YOU KARATE CHOP THE PERSON AND RUN… high kick on the way out if you need to). Here are some strategies you can use to arm yourself in your times of need.
- Know your priorities! Like I said earlier, know what your limitations and what really matters to you. If someone asks you to run a marathon tomorrow and you haven’t trained a day in your life then it’s probably not best to say yes. In this case, your lungs and life matter more.
- Say NO with conviction. Yes, scream NO in their face and walk away. Learn to use your words with courage and find your bravery in knowing that sometimes no is what’s best. When you say NO and mean it (in a loving way) then others that love you will support what’s best for you. There will always be friends that will be sad that you aren’t there and for those you think of alternatives that work for the both of you because THOSE ARE THE FRIENDS you want around.
- Don’t give a handful of excuses as to “why” you are saying no. NO MEANS NO, no use in explaining.
- Most importantly, realize that you have a choice. Wow, that’s simple right? Wait what? We can say NO? YES, YES YOU CAN! or NO? It’s your choice!
Now that I have bestowed the world’s worth in wisdom to you go forth and make healthy choices. YOU MATTER!!! Saying yes all the time isn’t good for anyone. I mean what if your parents would have said yes to everything? Do you watch reality TV? I mean, if you need to know what hearing YES all the time looks like there are plenty of train wrecks on television. We learn not to burn our hands on the stove because someone said NO. Just imagine if our parents really only wanted to people please. “Sureeeeee Joshie, grab that pan of boiling water. Whatever you want that will make you happy makes me happy!” Shortly after that we all learned that people pleasing burnsssssssss! See how easy that lesson was to learn! Be brave and don’t get burned!
I leave you with these kinds words from Abileen Clark in the motion picture The Help, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.”