Pleasing others is sold to us as something that great and wonderful people do. But this urge to please can actually drain you to the point where you become less productive, less happy and emotionally and physically drained. So, what if pleasing others and their happiness, is not worth the sacrifice?
Here are some simple ways to refocus your attention on yourself, your own happiness and ultimately improve your wellbeing:
1. Just say no
When you are a pleaser, people know it, and they tend to ask more and more from you. And you fulfill those favors, so they ask for more. Every time someone asks you to do something, or you feel the urge to volunteer to do it, ask yourself:
- Is it relevant to me?
- Can I do it?
- Do I want to do it?
- Will this make our life better or happier?
If your response to any of the above questions is ‘no’, consider politely declining their request. A simple, firm no, and they’re unlikely to try and persuade you to change your answer. If they are dissatisfied with ‘no’, it may be because they believe their happiness is more important than yours, and perhaps it’s time to start thinking the same. Your own happiness should always be a priority.
2. Ditch the "to do" list
If you have a never-ending to-do list, how does that make you feel? Excited? Or do you feel exhausted and overwhelmed just by looking at it? Get a nice notebook, where you write down not only what you think you "have" to do, but also what you would like to do, what you enjoy and what you have been delaying doing. This will help create the future you would like to have. Each morning, instead of the usual; wake up, run, cross items from the list, get exhausted, crash, repeat, ask yourself, “from all these things, what needs my attention now, what can be done with ease, what would be fun to do now?” This helps to get you from the discomfort of "I have to do" to the excitement of "I get to do!" You will find yourself accomplishing more, because your energy and your engagement are greater.
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3. Give only what people can receive
When you give too much, you are in serious risk of being rejected. Before doing or giving something to someone, ask them if it is ok. Always accept what they want to give back in return, even if it is just a thank you. This creates kindness and gratitude both in your world and theirs. When you are not willing to see this, you might be perceived as superior and even unkind.
4. Include yourself in your life
Include all of yourself, your body, your desires, even your guilty pleasures. In the end, you are the one who will live with you all your life. If you dismiss your requirements, and desires as not urgent, or not valuable, you start diminishing what you could create for you in your life. And this takes a toll on your health and your wellbeing. It is easy to just see everybody else's needs as more urgent than ours, but as they say on planes, if you want to help the person sitting beside you, you need to put your mask on first.
5. Ask for what you want
When you are willing to ask for what you want, you might actually be surprised that people are willing and eager to give it to you. Asking does not take away your independence or your self-sufficiency, it just adds ease to it. When you are willing to ask for what you want or need, and not demand from others, or guilt trip them to get your way, everything starts getting easier and more fun. Other people also want to please, and if you acknowledge that, you can fulfill their need, while getting more for you in your life. Ask: who do I know that could give this to me? Where can I go to get this done for me? Who is better than me at this?
When you are willing to honour yourself first, and to get clear about what you want in your life, you can go from busy mess to greatness as your operative mode. Would you be willing to please the one person that is and will always be there for you - yourself?