If the thought of saying “no” makes you squirm, this one’s for you! Read on to learn how to put an end to people-pleasing (and keep your kind personality).
What’s So Wrong with People-Pleasing?
Being helpful and making people happy is a good thing, right? Of course! You can be all of those things while maintaining healthy boundaries.
The trouble starts when we repeatedly sacrifice our own needs or say “yes” when we mean “no” just to keep others smiling.
Unfortunately, this habit can have mental and physical health consequences. Chronic people-pleasers often find themselves stressed, depressed, anxious, and burnt out.
Why Do We People-Please?
Are people-pleasers doormats and pushovers? From the outside, it may seem that way. In reality, people-pleasing serves us deeper down.
People-pleasing helps us avoid conflict.
In many cases, people-pleasing behaviors are less about making others happy and more about keeping the peace. We “go with the flow” so we can avoid conflict or skirt an invitation for challenging – yet fruitful – personal growth.
People-pleasing maintains pride and perfectionism.
People-pleasing isn’t all about avoidance. In some cases, taking on the role of the ‘can-do employee’ or ‘always-there-for-you friend’ gives us a sense of pride. We wear our overflowing to-do lists like a badge of honor, when they’re actually bringing us down.
People-pleasing offers us protection.
According to Natalie Lue, a coach who helps people overcome destructive people-pleasing tendencies, "We suppress and repress who we are to please others.”
We usually learn these behaviors in childhood when we find that they keep us out of trouble (and may even win us some brownie points).
People-pleasing is also a common strategy among women, minority groups, or those who feel different to feel accepted amongst their peers or in their work environment. While it can be a social survival mechanism, it holds us back from embracing our full potential in the long run.
How to Put an End to People-Pleasing
Thankfully, people-pleasing isn’t a personality trait – it’s a habit. A habit that you can change. Here are four tips to get you started.
Listen to your gut.
The critical first step for releasing people-pleasing behaviors is to discover your true “yes.” We may say yes for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we do it because we really want to do something; other times we do it out of fear, obligation, or avoidance.
When you aren’t sure if you want to say yes to something, meditate on the request. A true “yes” feels like excitement in your belly, and you may even start to smile.
If you feel a tightness in your chest, a queasiness in your stomach, or another uncomfortable sensation, pause and take a deep breath. Then, meditate on saying “no.” Does the sensation ease? Do you feel relieved? Follow what feels good in your gut.
Practice the power of the pause.
Before making any decision, buy yourself some time. Wait ten minutes before responding to that email, or ask your friend if you can get back to them with an answer tomorrow.
Not only does this allow you to listen to your gut, but it also gives you time to craft a polite yet firm “no” if that’s what you choose.
Rehearse your “no.”
That brings us to the art of saying “no.” To live a balanced life, you will have to say no some (if not most) of the time. What should be a simple response can make even the most brazen people-pleasers among us nauseous.
The good news is that saying no gets easier with practice. Start by rehearsing your firm “no.” It can be as simple as a friendly, “No, thank you,” or, “That sounds interesting, but I don’t have the bandwidth right now."
Bolster your boundaries with CBD.
CBD oil won’t instantly erase your people-pleasing tendencies, but it can make overcoming this habit easier.
CBD is proven to manage stress and ease tension. Coming from a place of resilience and peace, you’ll naturally stand by your boundaries with more confidence and grace.
You can still be your kind and capable self without succumbing to people-pleasing tendencies. In fact, you might find that you are even kinder and more capable when you establish healthy boundaries and pour your energy into the things you genuinely want to do.
Start with these tips and the help of CBD oil to overcome people-pleasing habits and embrace life with healthy boundaries!
Hannah Smith is Joy Organics Director of Communications. She is driven by her passion for providing clear and accessible wellness and CBD education. In 2015, she received her BA in Media, Culture and the Arts from The King’s College in New York City and before Joy Organics, worked as writer and photographer in the Middle East and North Africa. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Vice, Vox, Denver Post, and the Coloradoan.