And why you should too.
People-pleasing in my terms is:
Saying yes to anyone who asked me out
Saying yes to anyone who wanted to hang out anytime
Saying yes to anyone who needed help
Saying yes to my clients who wanted me to do anything (even out of my job scope), anytime
Responding to texts immediately
I’ve said “Yes” to everything -including things that I hated and dreaded, things that are completely none of my business. Because I feared so much that I might disappoint someone, annoy someone. I feared being judged. Because I secretly judged people when they said “no” to me. I hated the feeling so I didn’t want to put others through the same rejection that I went through. I wanted to be there and to help as many people as I could. At least, it started that way.
I said “yes” so much, that my plate was so full. And 1 fine day, I burnt out. I started being resentful. I started being angry with everyone and anyone who kept asking me to do more things. I got angry with anyone trying to steal my time- those who’d ask me to hang out when I didn’t want to, anyone who asked me out or do anything that I didn’t plan for. Because I simply had no time to complete everything that I had said “yes” to since new requests kept coming. My to-do lists were never-ending.
Task requests gave me anxiety because it meant that I had 1 more thing on my to-do list that I would take even longer to finish. The mental load of a task request was unbearable for me. (Yes, it was that bad) Then I started saying “No” to everything. I turned off my Whatsapp notifications because unanswered texts gave me anxiety.
That’s when everything changed. I reclaimed lost time to do things that really mattered to me, things that would actually help me reach my goals. I became less anxious because of the newfound boundaries that I set for myself. Today, I can find time to sit down to write, because I enjoy writing. Because it’s something that matters to me.
Here are the 5 reasons why I stopped people-pleasing and why you should stop too:
- People will take you for granted
You think that people will appreciate you the truth is, out of 10 people, only 1 will. This is life.
People don’t care what sacrifices you’ve made to say that “yes”. They only care if you’ve said “yes” to them. Once you’ve said “yes” to them, that’s all that matters.
Because you’ve made yourself so easily available to them, they just don’t value you as much.
“The best things in life, don’t come easy.”
If you’re like me, when we don’t feel appreciated, we burn out.
- Every time you say “Yes” to something, you’re saying “no” to something else.
There are opportunity costs for decisions we make. If we say “yes” to extra work from a client (especially unpaid ones), you might gain experience from doing that work but you’re losing precious time that could be used for something else (another client that pays, sleeping, hanging out with family, exercise, reading) that matters to you.
We can lose money because it can be made back but when we lose time, we will never be able to get it back.
- People-pleasing won’t help you reach your goals.
You’re only helping others reach theirs.
You’re only doing what they want but not what you really want. But it’s stealing your time to reach your own goals. We should be living our lives the way we want to and not the way others dictate us. We only have 1 life. This moment only comes once.
- People will keep asking for “yes”. It won’t stop.
You have to set your boundaries because people don’t have any boundaries when it comes to taking and expecting from others. Asking and taking is easy but giving is difficult.
- People will say “no” to you when you ask.
I used to be sad, angry and disappointed when that happened. Like “Omg, I’ve given you so much and this 1 time I ask and you say no??”. I’ve since learnt that it’s okay for people to have their boundaries. And so, it’s okay to have yours too. People will have their reasons and so it’s okay for you to have yours too.
Expect people to say “no”, so when they finally say “yes”, you will see the value and truly appreciate it. Don’t expect anything from everyone because everyone is busy chasing their dreams and goals.
These days, I get to choose the things that I want to do. I choose when I want to look at my phone and reply. I choose wisely the things that I want to say “yes” to. This is because I want to say “yes” without feeling resentful or regretting it later. I was afraid that after saying “yes” to everything, people would get angry with me or my clients would drop me because of my change. But I’ve explained to them and they mostly understand what I’m going through. All it takes is communication.
Understand that even if you’ve said “yes” to something that you didn’t have the capacity to complete or fully commit to, you’re doing them disfavour instead. You can only say “yes” when you’re full and ready to give. You cannot say “yes” when deep down, you’re empty. It’s okay to fill yourself first with the things that matter to you.
When people ask me for anything now, my default answer is a “no”. Then I will review it with these 4 criteria:
- Does it bring joy to me?
- Does it make me money?
- Does it help me reach my goal?
- Is the relationship/network with this person important?
If I get 2 yeses to these criteria, then it’s a yes!
Pleasing yourself is more important than pleasing others! Because it’s only after pleasing yourself, you will fully have the capacity to please others.