How to Quit Being a People Pleaser

Posted November 14, 2012 by Marcy Farrey in On the Ladder

I’ve talked about learning to say “No” before, and how difficult it can be. But I’m realizing that it’s not just about learning to say the word itself, but feeling confident in my own power to say it. A lot of people have trouble saying “No” because they’re like me — a recovering people pleaser. We believe that as long as we can please everyone around us all the time, we’ll feel safe and happy and loved. But has that ever been the case? It might feel good for a bit, but it doesn’t always get the perfect results. And it leaves us, ultimately, less happy with ourselves.

I was cheering as I read Suzanne Askham’s post on MindBodyGreen: “7 Ways to Stop Being a People Pleaser.” I want to share two of these with you that really inspired me.

  • First, Askham reminds us to “Notice what you’re feeling.” This seems super simple, right? Don’t we do this all the time? Nope. We might sense it deep down, but instead we say things like “It is what it is,” or “I don’t have time to worry about that.” We’re ignoring our emotions. We’re avoiding them. The longer we ignore them, the longer they build and simmer, and instead of addressing the issue, we keep doing the same thing. So take some time to listen yourself. Askham recommends using a journal, and I can say from personal experience that a journal is a great tool. You’re able to sort out your thoughts — and without driving any of your friends or family crazy!
  • And second, Askham says to “Spend time with inspiring people.” I love this one, and it’s something I recently started practicing more often. I go listen to the writers I admire as they read and talk about their process, and I go to events and panels to hear successful business leaders talk about their journeys. Lately, I’ve been working on surrounding myself more and more with other career-driven men and women — and I’ve never felt more motivated and confident in my own goals.

Ultimately, what all of these tips are telling us is that it’s not about pleasing others, but about growing our confidence in ourselves. Think about it — if you’re confident in who you are and what you want, it will be much easier to say “No” to those things that aren’t in line with your goals.

Read the rest of Askham’s tips on MindBodyGreen.

About the Author

Marcy Farrey

Marcy Farrey is a videographer, writer, and editor. In her previous life, she worked as a broadcast news reporter and producer in Lincoln, Nebraska and as a writer and producer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has a Master of Arts in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University and a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University. Learn more about Marcy on her website



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