According to psychologist Susan Newman, PhD, author of The Book of No (Turner Publishing), people-pleasers will do whatever is asked of them to keep everyone around them happy, putting everyone’s needs before their own. She explains it as a type of addiction – constant people-pleasing spirals into feeling as though they need to be needed, and makes them feel important and validated. At their core then, compulsive people-pleasers lack self-confidence, and rely on the approval of others and outside validation for security.
According to Newman, what many people-pleasers don’t realise is that constantly looking to please others at the expense of their own needs has serious risks. It puts a lot of pressure and stress on you, and can lead to being overcommitted and burning the candle at both ends. People-pleasers may suffer from anxiety, depleted energy, and depression from feeling overloaded. You’ll also begin to lose sight of what it is you need to feel fulfilled and happy, and become caught up in the lives of others at the expense of your own. So what can you do to regain balance, and choose yourself again?
1 Remember you have a choice
According to Newman, people-pleasers feel like they have to say yes when someone asks for their help or for a favour. They say yes almost compulsively. It’s important to take a moment and remind yourself that you’re perfectly within your rights to say no, and that you’re always in control of choosing whether or not to agree to take on more.
It’s perfectly acceptable to tell someone you’ll need some time to consider whether you’re able to do them a favour or not. This will give you time and space away from the pressure of being asked for help to realistically consider if you can commit to helping them. You should also ask the person for the details of the commitment, so you can work out if you have the time and energy to spare.
3 Set limits
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