Author of The Joy of Saying No, Natalie Lue said that all her life she resorted to people pleasing, or was a people-pleaser, and as a person who has moved away from this, she has found life to be much more fulfilling and happier.
Lue said that growing up she often felt under pressure to do whatever was expected of her and when her parents divorced she would even feel guilty about how she divided her time between them.
How a people pleaser was born
“I received a clear message at an early age that you have to act a certain way to be accepted. There were all of these messages – at home and at school – that if you are displeasing, then you’re going to have problems. It’s your job to make other people happy. It’s your job to fulfill other people’s dreams. It’s your job to overperform and give 100%.”
“But there was a part of me that was over giving in friendships, family, at work… I was burning out because I would overdeliver, overperform and always be super reliable. And when my health was struggling because I have an immune system disease called sarcoidosis, I continued to overdeliver at work to overcompensate for doing something as terrible as being unwell.”
People pleasing, what is that exactly
By definition people pleasing means people who put the needs of others before their own. This may be a good thing to help others but when it is to your detriment and affects your mental health, it’s time to take stock and reevaluate your behavioral patterns.
People pleasing is actually anxiety which is masked
“People pleasing is an anxiety response. Whether we recognize it in the moment, or the aftermath, what we’re really saying is, ‘I’m anxious about something. I’m anxious about not being liked. I’m anxious about being rejected. Or I’m anxious that I’m not going to get what I want.’ People-pleasing is a manifestation of anxiety, and it’s also me trying to manage my anxiety which is only creating more problems for me.”
How do we stop this and not over-stretch and overwhelm ourselves.
Lue says it’s important to to pay attention to yourself and to who and what you say yes to. See if your body is feeling stressed before responding.
“The average people-pleaser is high on yes. There’s a maybe or two in there but they’re low on nos. Look at where you’re spending your yes.”
“A lot of people don’t bother to check in about how they feel and acknowledge whether they want to or need to say yes. Who is it that sets off your anxiety when you see their name in your inbox or on your phone? That tension inside of you – where you’re dreading opening up your phone because you’re anticipating them asking for something – is a sign that you are people pleasing.”
Prioritize saying no
The most important step in recovering from this habit that causes you stress and at extreme levels, depression is to figure out when and where you can say no.
“When you say no authentically, you can also say yes authentically. You are doing things that are really in integrity with who you are, your values and how you want to feel instead of doing them out of obligation or for some hidden agenda.”