If you spend more time on tasks other people want you to do for them than on things you actually want to do, you might be a chronic people pleaser.
Kindness is a great quality to possess, but when you find yourself agreeing to do things just to ensure that people like you, your willingness to help can become a problem. Besides, caring too much about what others think can actually lead to people liking you less. How do you care less? Here are 9 small tricks you can try:
1. Follow the thought.
When you meet someone, it can be easy to start obsessing over whether they like you or not, but let yourself consider what the worst case scenario is if they don’t like you. Of course you should always treat others with respect, but at the end of the day you’ll realize that most of the time, there will be no life-altering outcome if someone doesn’t like you.
2. Ask yourself what you really want.
If you find yourself constantly saying yes to things you don’t want to do or agreeing with ideas you don’t actually support, take a step back and consider how you actually feel. If you consider it and realize that it’s something you don’t enjoy, be honest with yourself and say no to these requests.
3. Put yourself in their position.
If a friend said no to helping you move, would you end your friendship? When you meet someone who thinks your favorite restaurant is just iffy, do you instantly dislike that person? Probably not. Keep that in mind the next time you tell yourself that not appeasing someone will sour their feelings for you.
4. Foster positive relationships.
Surrounding yourself with people who you know are good and forgiving can help you expect good from others. Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself and build you up. Being reassured of your positive attributes will remind you that there are already people in your life who think you’re great no matter what you do for them.
5. Cut out negative relationships.
On the flip side, avoid spending time with people who make you feel badly about yourself. You may still have to deal with toxic coworkers, but you can stop spending time with ‘friends’ who tear you down or often take advantage of your willingness to please. It isn’t always easy, but you may be surprised by what a dramatic difference getting rid of a negative voice makes in your life.
6. Remind yourself of your positive qualities.
Getting caught up in negative self talk is your biggest enemy. When you remind yourself of what you have to offer as a person, you’ll rely less on others to build you up.
7. Do something that scares you.
Going out to dinner alone, taking a dance class or wearing an outfit that’s a little out there are a few ways to get yourself outside of your comfort zone. If you do end up looking silly or people say something negative, you’ll see that their opinion doesn’t really impact your life much if at all.
8. Give yourself time when you need it.
People pleasers can quickly agree to things because they’ve made such a habit of instantly agreeing to do things that they say yes without even processing the request. If you’ve trained yourself to give out an instant yes, automatically flipping the switch to rejecting requests can be challenging. Instead, take a baby step and say you will need time to think about it. This will give you a buffer to build up the courage to say no.
9. Accept that no one is liked by everyone.
Think about the coolest, most awesome person in your life you always want to be around. There are still some people who don’t like that person! On the other hand, the person who you like the least is someone else’s favorite person. Being disliked by some people is an inevitable fact of life, and acknowledging that can make it easier to focus on the things you can control.
Kayla Heisler is an essayist and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. She is an MFA candidate at Columbia University, and her work appears in New York's Best Emerging Poets 2017 anthology.