People-pleasing – it’s a real thing. If left unchecked, it can leave you feeling like you have no backbone, no life, and like you don’t really matter. Letting people run your life is no way to assume purpose. I should know, I’ve been there.
There I was, sulking in my bed, worried sick about the choices I had made not even one hour ago. I became overwhelmed with guilt, frustration, anxiety, and a deep hatred for myself and who I was. I contemplated how much better life would be without me and even considered taking myself out of the picture…forever.
In the midst of my depression, I heard a calm voice tell me You can do this. I then decided I have to. I have to get out of here – out of my head, out of this room, and out of trying to please everyone!
I whipped the covers off of myself and walked confidently over to my desk and began to write. I decided I no longer wanted to do this anymore. God gave me a voice and the little girl inside of me is gone. I needed to exercise my right as an adult human being and child of God to speak up, share my opinions, and even possibly, sometimes, say no.
Later that day, I picked up my phone and started making phone calls letting people know how I felt.
I was an unstoppable force of nature. I loved the feeling of knowing that I could change if I wanted to and that God had my back every step of the way.
That’s when I realized that I needed a game plan for the next time someone catches me off-guard and asks me if I want to do something I’m not interested in. Instead of letting the other person shift my gears for me, I needed to figure out a way to stay in control of myself. I wanted to stop people-pleasing for good.
That’s when I came up with this formula. If you’re someone who needs a little help with this as well, here are 5 practical steps to stop people pleasing:
1. KNOW YOURSELF.
If you don’t know who you are, you’ll try anything even if you don’t want to. What helped was knowing who I was and writing it all down. Write down what makes you – your likes, dislikes, who matters most to you and why, what you stand for, and what you don’t. Decide that you’re not going to budge for anyone or anything outside of what matters most to you.
2. SET CLEAR BOUNDARIES.
When someone asks you to do something you don’t really want to do, say no politely, but in confidence – no excuses, no explanations – just simply No, I can’t.
There have been many times in life when I said no jokingly, beating around the bush and allowing the other person’s persistence to push me over the edge. Then I ended up doing whatever they wanted me to and I grew bitter and tired of the relationship. Not to mention I became a pushover to these people and hated myself in the process.
Respect yourself enough to know it’s enough to say No. You’re a living being with the right to say what you mean.
3. REHEARSE SAYING NO.
Often times people will catch you off-guard and ask you for help/your company/favors unexpectedly. It helps sometimes to practice what you can say beforehand. Here are a few examples you can try:
No, I can’t. I have something else to do.
Sorry, I can’t. I’ll be busy during that time.
Let me get back to you. I have to check my schedule.
No, I don’t really feel in the mood to do that right now. Maybe next time.
No, I’m not into that. Thanks for asking though!
Thank you for thinking of me, but I’m not able to at the moment.
Maybe later. Thanks.
If people ask you for an explanation, just tell them it’s personal. Don’t be afraid of your voice. Own it.
4. KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ‘GOOD’ AND ‘RIGHT’
I often think ‘This isn’t a bad thing, so I should do it’ or ‘This person needs me, so I have to.’ WRONG. Just because it’s good or there’s a need doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you right now. It might be in the future, but that’s between you and your own convictions.
There’s a saying that I hold onto that goes, “Just because it’s permissible doesn’t make it necessary.” This means I don’t have to do this thing just because it’s a good thing. I’m not helping anyone if my priorities are constantly being put on the back-burner. In fact, I’m only causing more stress to myself because I’m not being honest with others.
Refer back to your list from point #1. Who/what matters most to you? Will spending time with this person take away from that? Will you regret it later? Weigh the options beforehand and remember where you stand when the pressure is on.
If you need to make a decision soon, tell them you’ll get back to them later that day. Sometimes it helps to take the pressure off the situation and respond when you’ve had the freedom to think without someone standing in front of you.
People don’t care as much as you think. Most people will understand and continue living life unscathed by your decision.
5. KNOW YOUR WORTH.
God gave you a voice, feelings, opinions, and interests. These are all a part of what makes you you. At the end of the day, it’s you, yourself, and God; no one else. You are essential to His kingdom and valuable to this world in more ways than you could imagine. If you fully believed this, you wouldn’t have such a hard time letting people know it.
I used to think what I thought didn’t matter, but God reminded me that I was called to be a voice to this generation (Psalm 66:8, 2 Timothy 1:9). God has purpose for us all and if we continue to let outsiders control us, we are putting our purpose on pause. Even God says to “let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one,” (Matthew 5:37).
Remember you’re special, loved, and valued by the Creator. God doesn’t want you to get that confused.
Be honest, be yourself, and do it unapologetically.
This is your right as a human being.
Do you have anything to add to this list? Comment below with what you’ve tried, what worked, or if this list was helpful to you at all!
Thanks again for reading.