Monday, April 25, 2011

I choose ME…


I am a chronic people pleaser. I am not sure when it started, maybe it is that middle child syndrome, maybe somewhere along the way I perceived that people liked me more when I did things for them. It only took me 40 years to see the light on this subject. In the past year or so I have become more aware of the people who are in my life seemingly because they need something.

"You need me to make cupcakes, by tomorrow morning? 8 dozen? No problem! I am pretty sure Kroger is open 24 hours."

Luckily, I only have a couple of people in my life that I would say take advantage of me. One is kind of a classic scenario. I do various marketing materials for them. They only call me when they need something. If I am in ever in need of anything from them, they are impossible to reach. Whenever I get a call from this person, I KNOW they are calling so I will do something for them. I politely engage in the small talk waiting for the shoe to drop. It has become comical because it is so predictable.

The other person is a little bit more of a sticky situation as it is a close family member who can be difficult to deal with at best. The problem with this family member is that other family members tend to get involved and call me wanting me to do something to help this person, knowing that I cannot do any more than they could themselves.

In case number one, that is sort of a no brainer. I just need to learn to say no. I actually had a conversation with this person over the weekend about it. I am not sure they took me seriously so we’ll see. It may just become a situation where I selectively answer the phone.

In case number two, there is some amount of guilt involved since it is a family member. I have tried to help this person for a number of years now and they really aren’t receptive to the help so I feel like I have done all I can in that regard.

To help with these situations, I have been reading up on how to stop being a people pleaser. One of the steps involves figuring out what you are afraid of that causes you to never say no. Are you afraid people won’t like you? If they don’t like the ‘new you’ that isn’t a pushover, you should ask yourself if they were worth having in your life to begin with? Another step is to stop basing your self worth on how much you do for other people. The greatest acts of kindness aren’t done out of guilt or fear, they are done by choice. If you are doing things for others because you would feel bad if you didn’t, is your action genuine? Lastly, learn how to say no. You don’t need to make up excuses. Tell the truth. If going to a particular concert or party isn’t your thing, just say so. Simply but politely.

I can’t say that I am 100% there; I am probably not even 50% there. I definitely struggle with being a people pleaser. I guess that is the beauty of getting older, you start to worry less about what people think. I am starting to make strides so that is a great start. Recognizing the problem is half the battle, right?

14 comments:

Kate said...

Good luck with the process. I'm kind of the other way, typically I find it too easy to avoid doing things for people. A middle ground is definitely better. Too bad we can't average ourselves together! :)

Jim ... 50after40 said...

Well that's just great, you write this post on the day I was gonna ask you for cupcakes - forget it now!

Seriously, this is a great post! I REALLY struggle with this. I'm in sales and it's so hard to not always say "yes". Unfortunately, this leaks over into my personal life. We had a family issue last year that I finally had to put my foot down on, it was tough and things still aren't great - but it had to be done. We'll see I guess. Great post!

Meg O @watchmegorun said...

I have a hard time with this too. Great job working on it though. I try and always fail miserably. Maybe I can learn a thing or two from you :)

ajh said...

I am def. a people pleaser but I am finding that AGING is helping. I don't seem to care so much if I am not pleasing everyone.

I find myself now getting mad at people who complain at all they have to do because they never say no. Today someone asked me if I could meet on Friday (after missing the meeting we had set up for today) and I said no. I didn't give a reason, I just said it wouldn't work.

Let's keep working on being a hard a** more of the time!

Jennifer said...

I'm with Jim I was about to ask you to make me a couple dozen cupcakes; now my plan is spoiled! Good for you, you are on hard road but you are being frank and honest about it. Cheers!

Jan said...

I have to say I am a people pleaser too, Karen. But I have been working on it for the last year and the first time I said "no" and the world didn't "fall apart" it was totally empowering. Keep working on it. It's worth it.

Amanda said...

I work with a people pleaser. A person that can't say no and they doesn't ever ask for help. What does this matter to me? Well, I'm the one that hears all about it. The person that listens to the complaining, the anger, the frustration and in some cases tears. When I suggest that this person learns to say no or ask for help it falls on deaf ears...So, people pleasers can actually affect those of us that have learned that no is not a dirty word :)!

Good luck with the family member situation - that makes it 10 times more difficult for sure.

Kovas said...

I'm a middle child, but I definitely pick and choose who I go out of my way for. Enjoy the process!

Jill said...

I'm a people pleaser, too...I think it's embedded in our genes cuz I know my mom was, too. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, there just needs to be balance. Good luck, I'm rooting for you!!

Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

Like you I do try to please others far too much. What is worse is that I am also super positive and this seems to both a person I am close with. This person shared this feeling with me last week. Hurt my feeling and left me feeling strangley bitter.

This week is better and I have decided to just BE ME! They can like it or not.

I somethimes thing that the best gifts are given to those that have no idea that it came from you.

You are on the right path.

Amanda - RunToTheFinish said...

is it sad to say I think maybe i shoudl be more of a people pleaser? I love my friends and family, but i'm ok with saying no if it feels best for me...that's probably the only child in me

lindsay said...

i did this a couple years ago... i used to volunteer for like 3750284 non profits. i was grumpy and dreaded going to meetings/events. so, as things wound down i slowly backed down on my participation. i kind of took it to the extreme as now i don't volunteer for anything though. but sometimes, you just need a break.

Sara Cox Landolt said...

Important topic and discussion questions! It's a great reminder to look at the things & people we choose to spend our time with. :-)

Colleen said...

This is such a hard thing. And when you say no, you feel so selfish, but you have the right to be "selfish"! :) Good luck!