Today’s Solutions: March 29, 2023

As social creatures, it’s natural to want to get along with our peers. This sometimes involves making compromises to balance the needs and wants of others, however, if we put too much value on the approval of others, then we are at risk of becoming “people pleasers.”

People pleasers need affirmation from other people to boost how they feel about themselves. They will often find themselves unable to say ‘no’ out of fear that others may think less of them, or because they worry that people will think they’re selfish or inconsiderate.

To avoid becoming a people pleaser, or to break the cycle of people-pleasing, follow these five tips.

Ask yourself if you are helping because it makes you feel happy and satisfied, or because you feel guilty. Sometimes it may be difficult to distinguish between being kind and generous or engaging in people-pleasing behavior. Instead of jumping at every opportunity to say yes to any request, try and be honest with yourself about whether you are doing something because you genuinely want to, or if you’re simply avoiding feelings of guilt, or attempting to feel less anxious.

Let your values drive your decisions. First, it’s important to identify what your values are. Ask yourself what aspects of life you find most important, or what morals resonate with how you want to live your life. Then, when someone asks you to do something, you can ask yourself if it lines up with these values or interests. If not, then it may be better for you to politely decline.

Practice saying no. Saying ‘no’ can seem abrasive to a people pleaser, but practice makes perfect. Start small by standing up for your needs little by little. You can begin by mentioning what you want for lunch, or by stating what movie you would prefer to watch. Next, you can work on politely disagreeing with someone’s opinion, making sure to ask questions and listen intently to their answers. At some point, after enough practice, you’ll be able to say ‘no’ to things you don’t want to do without feeling bad about it.

Remember that saying no doesn’t make you a bad person. It is physically impossible to always please everyone. All it takes is a couple of minutes online to demonstrate how the world is split up into infinite opposing opinions and points of view. While saying ‘yes’ may make you feel good momentarily, try to remind yourself that saying ‘no’ will not automatically shun you from society.

Refrain from over-apologizing. People pleasers are often apologetic for things that they have no need to feel sorry for. While they tend to have good intentions, over apologizing can make a people pleaser inadvertently dishonest. Plus, apologizing when you haven’t done anything wrong will make it appear as though you did do something wrong. Save the apologizing for when you actually screw up, which we are all bound to do.

People-pleasing may make you feel good temporarily, but ultimately, self-worth is based on self-respect. Before saying yes to others, make sure to check in with yourself.

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