As a woman, mom, wife, friend, daughter, business-owner and someone juggling all the balls in the air with the endless to-do lists, the one thing that I use to think was “is everyone happy by my efforts?” You see, I am a recovering people-pleaser and was constantly looking for validation from others in return. When I would do something for someone else, I expected that they either: 1) be grateful or 2) do something for me in return down the road. It seemed the more I did, the more people expected from me. So, I kept doing and kept seeking their approval. I would do anything to feel validated, buy them things thinking they would be over the moon and appreciative. I would offer to do services such as watch their kids, or do errands or even offer and go visit them because I knew they wouldn’t visit me and my family and I wanted them to like me.
As the years went on and I had my own kids and to be honest, I was expecting others to just help me out. However, that wasn’t the case at all. I starting struggling with my endless to-do lists and still kept on doing for others thinking that I needed to ‘do’ in order to keep the relationship intact. With 2 kids, a business and a house to take care of, the overload and overwhelm go to be too much. I would complain, complain a lot!
Until I realized….People-pleasing is Bad for Your Health!
Some people-pleasers rarely focus on themselves in a proper manner. When they (I am talking to you moms) do take a moment for themselves, they feel selfish, indulgent, and guilty, which is why they are often on the go. They are constantly rushing to get things done, striving to keep everyone happy.
This becomes a vicious circle: Because they stay so busy doing for others, they usually work harder than most people. Because they accomplish so much and are so easy to get along with, they are often the first to be asked to do things. As a result, they are vulnerable to being taken advantage of because they have difficulty saying no. They usually don’t even consider that saying no is an option for them. They just assume that they should do whatever anyone asks them to do, no matter how unreasonable it is. When they do venture out and say no to a request, they often change that no to a yes if people act angry or displeased. Does this sound like you?
What’s the result? well, eventually the stress will wear on you. Fatigued sets in as well as bitterness, resentment and your self-esteem suffers terribly. Depression can result from low self-esteem and other physical symptoms show up such as aches and pains, sickness and dis-ease. Your hormones are completely out of whack and you may end up barking one minute and crying the next. You start to care less about taking care of you and let yourself go. Some may seek comfort in food, alcohol or some other addiction. You lose yourself in your kids and the daily activities just to keep up and unfulfilled in doing so and your marriage is on the rocks.
5 things to do right now to stop this vicious cycle and take ‘YOU’ back:
1) Learn to just say ‘NO’. In fact, get in front of a mirror .. Practice saying it nicely and then say it with conviction. You are not use to it so it my be awkward and difficult at first. However, just like anything else, the more you practice it the easier it will be. Have fun with it and pretend you are a cartoon character saying no and you will realize that is acceptable.
2) Take care of YOU! don’t expect anything from anybody but yourself. Make yourself happy by treating yourself. Take time out of your busy day to refill your well daily and do so without feeling guilty.. i.e read a book, take a bath, go for a walk.
3) Only do for others expecting absolutely NOTHING in return. I am not talking about daily things we do for our children or elders because they need our assistance. I am talking about the extra stuff we do to ‘please’ others. Do so because it feels right in your heart to do so. Follow your intuition, if it doesn’t feel right..don’t do it.
4) Realize that only you can make you happy! do not look for others to make you happy or to feel self-worth. Happiness starts within and when you fill yourself up with it, your loved ones get the overflow and your positive energy permeates outward onto them thus, filling you up more.
5) If you are a true giver then contribute your time and energy to those who are really in need. Spend a few hours helping underprivileged children, volunteering at a homeless shelter or helping out the elderly. This kind of contribution is done out of love and compassion for others. You know they can not repay you, but a smile and a few moments of your time will fill your soul up.