Updated: May 6, 2021
May is Mental Health Awareness Month!
So I am going to be blogging on tips and skills to practice to strengthen, empower, and allow you to learn about your own mental health.
I came across a quote today that read:
If taking care of your mental health means letting someone down - then LET.THEM.DOWN.
People pleasing comes up a lot in therapy. Making decisions based on how you imagine others are going to want you to decide. Making decisions based on what someone else's reaction might be. Making decisions based on fear of disappointment or rejection.
So WHERE does this come from?
It could be based on personality, trauma, past experiences, social anxiety, or low self-esteem.
The difference between wanting to help others and people-pleasing is your level of desire to do it, or maybe your emotional well-being while and after doing said thing. When you have a history of people-pleasing, you may get some pushback.
“But you always say yes” “so what are you going to do instead?” “Fine, don’t be helpful”
These statements can hurt, but just because boundaries are put in place, does NOT mean you did something WRONG. How someone else reacts to your boundaries is a THEM issue - not you.
If someone gets angry about a boundary you place on your time, commitment, efforts, and mental space, then it was probably a boundary that needed set a longggg time ago.
Here are a few ways to practice setting people pleasing boundaries.
If you feel pressure to say yes, insert “Let me think on it” or “I’d like to give that some thought first” Give yourself time to process what you are willing to do/want to do, etc.
2. Practice with small “no’s” to start
Maybe start with not being the first to speak up when your boss asks the group for volunteers. Maybe say no to that friend/acquaintance when they ask you to grab brunch sometime. Perhaps practice your no when an old classmate reaches out to you about their MLM (you don’t have to say yes to that 15 min free chat)
3. Give alternatives/find compromise
“Hey! Let’s hang out and get breakfast Sunday morning!”
“Hey there, I’d love to see you, but I’d like to sleep in, how’s lunch or dinner?”
“Can you help me move on Saturday and Sunday?”
“I’d love to help, I am available from 1-4p on Sunday. See ya then!”
“Let’s go out and party for your birthday!” “I can’t wait to see you, I’d really like to go-kart and go to the zoo instead”
Again, these are ways to ease into setting boundaries around people-pleasing. You also absolutely have the right to say “No” just because. No explanation is necessary.
Once you get used to setting boundaries, folks you love and care about will trust that you are doing things out of the kindness of your heart, because you genuinely want to be around them, and they know that you are going to be fully present in that time.
Authenticity is the name of the game when it comes to deep, meaningful connections and relationships.