Do you identify yourself as someone who seeks approval from others, or who bends over backwards to keep people happy? Is it highly important to you that others like you? I think it is a bit of a fine line between being a nice person, and being too nice. The subtle difference is in the intention.
If your intention is to be kind to others while also being kind to yourself, then you are doing a great job and please do not stop. But if your intention is more about keeping the peace, not rocking the boat, and just placating others, then you may need to ask yourself some tough questions. Let’s start with this one:
Who is looking after you?
People pleasing is ultimately exhausting. And while you are exhausting yourself looking after others, no one is looking after you. But things get deeper and darker still. Even worse than simply tiring ourselves out and getting nothing in return, we are also at risk of being manipulated too.
When we seek our validation from others, we open ourselves up to other people’s agendas. Before we know it we can end up living a life that somebody else chose for us. If you have ever stopped and wondered how you got where you are, then here are three simple steps to walk yourself through.
Read also – 10 Ways to Love Your Life with a Stronger Heart
Become aware of your patterns
When you start to really pay attention to how you behave around others, you will start to learn your own patterns. Perhaps you offer help to people before they have even asked for it. Or maybe people ask you for things and you can’t say no. Maybe you are someone who says, “I am okay” when you are really not.
Try bringing this behavior pattern into your conscious view. Be mindful of all your decisions, the big and small, and think about whom you are making those decisions for. If you spot yourself saying yes to something you wished you could say no to, do not beat yourself up about it. Just pay attention; you are learning.
Stretch your comfort zone
Challenge yourself to push the boundaries a little more each time. I am talking about baby steps. If you try to switch suddenly from being a ‘yes person’ to saying no, it is likely you will struggle and feel very guilty. So take your time and push your boundaries little by little.
But do take those little steps. Try with small things at first, or practice with strangers before tacking your friends and family. Standing up for yourself will be great for your self-confidence in the long term, so it is really worth working on.
Start to prioritize yourself
How do you really want to live your one and only life? Once you have become aware of your patterns and begun to stretch your boundaries, you can start to focus on the future you. We have all heard the airplane analogy – to put your own oxygen mask on before helping others. It is so simple and true, yet so often overlooked.
When faced with a situation where you could fall into old habits of people pleasing, and therefore exhausting yourself, try thinking of the oxygen mask. Ask yourself what you need before what they need. If you do not have your oxygen then you can’t help others for long. You will eventually run out of air. Have you struggled with people pleasing? Do let me know in the comments.