People pleasing is something that most everyone falls victim to in some way or another, and it is something that a lot of us put time and energy into learning how to stop. It can pick at your confidence, disrupt your plans, and make you feel resentful-at yourself and at others in your life. When it comes to learning to live from a place of alignment between our values and our actions, many of us hit the giant roadblock of people pleasing and aren’t sure how to get around it.
How does people pleasing show up for you? Are you someone that agrees with everyone around you without even realizing you’re not considering your own opinions before opening your mouth to agree? Do you say yes when you mean no because you feel guilty? Do you panic when conflict comes up, and try to quickly make it disappear by just pleasing the angry person? Do you find yourself saying sorry for things that don’t need apologizing for?
Yea, we get it. The thing is, most of us learned these habits as kids, or in the context of something traumatic, or even maybe in an unhealthy relationship. And, sometimes these patterns are deep, and may be best explored with the help of a therapist. However, there are a few things that you can do right now to start to break down this roadblock and begin learning to live from the heart instead of through the worried opinions of others.
Start to notice when you are people pleasing. Pay attention to when you are saying yes when you mean no, and how your body responds. More likely than not, your body is tensing in some way, or maybe your stomach is clenching as you utter the words you don’t mean. Are you feeling drained and resentful by the end of the week because you gave your time away again? Listen to your body, and let it be your guide in showing you where people pleasing is hurting you.
This is your energy! Understand that you do have a choice- and begin to slowly use that power. Start small, say no. Use the good old “I have to check my calendar” line to stop yourself from just jumping to yes right away, and give yourself some space to check yourself before you respond.
Don’t over-explain yourself, Simply say something like “I can’t that night, thanks for thinking of me”. Leave it at that! You do not need to give a few excuses or weigh yourself down in guilt in your response. Try to keep it simple, sit in how uncomfortable that is, and try to get used to this.
This is a difficult pattern to break, and it is important to be kind to yourself along the way. Start small, be compassionate with yourself, and give yourself time to use these techniques. Change this big doesn’t happen overnight, but you will start to feel the weight of people pleasing slide off your back pretty quickly when you give yourself the permission to take back your power.