Do you ever find yourself completely overwhelmed by a lose-lose situation? For me, they seem to come up most often when I am dealing with my people-pleasing brain. I work myself into a corner where no matter which direction I go, I feel like I’ll be disappointing someone I care about.
I was reminded recently that no matter what I do, I can’t make anyone happy because being happy is their choice. Here are some tips for those of you looking to turn away from people-pleasing tactics.
People Pleasing: We Care Too Much
There are definitely those people out there who make decisions based on what they want or what’s best for them. I have just never been one of those people.
My brain is constantly asking me questions like:
- Will this person feel upset if I choose not to attend this event/meet this expectation?
- Which group of people will make me feel worse if I make a decision one way or another?
- Is there a way I can make this work so that everyone is happy — even if I am not?
My people-pleasing nature often prioritizes my preference and opinion way below that of the people around me. I will go out of my way to make sure that I am doing everything I can to make things simple and convenient for the people in my life.
Does that sound familiar?
It’s exhausting, pretty unhealthy, and can lead to long-term resentment and unhappiness.
7 Meditations for People Pleasers
I am working to change my mentality by repeating important things to myself when I struggle with decision making. I am adding these phrases and reminders to my internal dialogue to give myself ammunition against people-pleasing thoughts:
“I am not in charge of other people’s feelings.”
“My worth is not based on how many people like me.”
“My happiness matters.”
“It’s okay to say no to people’s requests/invitations.”
“Being emotionally manipulated isn’t the same as being needed.”
“Not meeting others’ expectations doesn’t make me a failure.”
“I don’t need to apologize for having my own life and needs.”
Living in the Moment: Making Your Own Moments Matter
Battling to focus on the present can be a challenge if we’re constantly thinking of where we “should” be. Are we fixated on being where we’re most needed by others, rather than enjoying what’s going on around us?
Do we find ourselves concerned with who we are disappointing when we should be participating and enjoying our time and the company we are with?
Living in the moment means being decisive about where we want to devote our time and attention, and then focusing on truly being there. Instead of running through the “what if” scenarios, we have to remember that being present is the best way to reinforce our decisions.
If I attend a birthday party, but spend the entire time worried about another friend’s event that I was invited to, I’m not honoring my decision. I’m wasting my time and precious mental energy — there is no way to be in two places at once.
Sure, I might have chosen the other event and skipped the birthday party, but I would have sat at the other event thinking about the birthday party. Neither decision is the right one if I’m not living in the present.
When we make a decision, whether or not it makes us feel like we are disappointing others, we need to commit to it. Other people are not in charge of the moments we get to live, and choosing where we go and with whom is part of making our own lives a priority.
It doesn’t mean sidestepping responsibility or refusing to help others. It simply comes down to making decisions based on what aligns with your priorities, and recognizing that not every event, person, request, or invitation can be your top priority.
3 Tips for Devoting Energy to Your Top Priorities
Tip 1: Don’t prioritize based on what others think your priorities should be.
We all feel that our priorities make the most sense and that most people aren’t hitting the mark. However, we shouldn’t expect other people to mold their priorities around our own. In a similar way, we can’t be expected to completely align our lives and wishes with those of the people around us.
Your boss may prioritize work over family life. Your friends may prioritize eating out over saving money. You might prioritize studying over social events. We all have our own perspectives, goals, and dreams that drive our decisions and priorities.
We have to first organize our priorities, and then follow-up by making decisions that help us to reach our goals, rather than simply helping to please the people around us.
Tip 2: Don’t expect people to understand/agree with your decisions.
Once you’ve made up your mind, make decisions to move towards your goals and try not to look back too often. People around us more than likely will disagree with at least one of our priorities, and if asked, will be happy to voice how they would have done things differently.
As we change our mindset and put our goals and priorities at the center of our decision-making process, we are bound to ruffle a few feathers. However, when we commit to our decisions, we are giving ourselves permission to live our lives.
Sounds really rude, but if you’re a people pleaser, you know it’s really just about finding balance. Not choosing everyone else every time.
Tip 3: Don’t use very much energy on people to whom you are not a priority.
The third tip to remember may involve setting aside some of our natural instincts. There are people in our lives who don’t and most likely never will make you a real priority.
If those people also tend to be the people in your life who are making a lot of requests, using manipulation, or are treating you unfairly, it’s probably time to take some of your time and energy out of their hands.
While we can’t always avoid negative or manipulative people, it’s important for people pleasers like us to recognize these people and step back once we realize what’s going on. It helps us to keep our mental sanity, and it also gives us more energy and time to spend on things and people who are good for us.
Get Yourself on Track: Set Some Personal Goals
Setting personal goals like cutting out negative, people pleasing thoughts is an important part of working towards becoming the best version of yourself. Gather inspiration and get yourself on track to make this a year of personal growth.