Are you a people pleaser who sucks at standing up for yourself? I can definitely relate. Most of my life was spent trying to make others happy, and I was absolutely miserable. One of the delusions we fall victim to is that if we can make others happy, we’ll be happy with ourselves. While I do believe in helping others and being of service, we need to recognize when we’re going too far and it’s affecting our mental health negatively.
Along my mental health journey, I discovered something that helped me get out of the people-pleasing mindset, and it was that my people-pleasing was actually kind of making me a jerk. One of the main reasons we do things for others is to make them happy, but sometimes it backfired in my face, and I couldn’t understand why. Once I started analyzing the situation a little bit, I discovered some different ways that people-pleasing is actually making us a jerk.
People Care About You
The first important thing to recognize is that most of the people in your life that you’re bending over backwards for care about you. They want what’s best for you. They want you to be happy. So, if you’re constantly trying to make them happy, and sacrificing your own happiness, you’re actually taking away from their happiness. Make sense?
If you’re not happy, you’re not actually maximizing the other person’s happiness.
Still not getting it? Flip roles real quick. What if someone in your life was self-sacrificing so much that they were miserable? Would you want them to keep doing it? Hell no you wouldn’t. You’d want them to take some time for themselves and focus some of their energy on their own well-being, so do the same for yourself.
Now, I’m an optimist, but I also know that some of us have people in our lives who are pretty selfish, and we need to recognize this so we can start setting up boundaries. Sometimes, we get into this conundrum where a loved one or other person in our life wants us to be happy, but they don’t want us to quit doing all the things we do for them.
Well, as with most things in life, we can’t have it both ways. Something we need to start working on is setting boundaries and knowing when to say “no”. Something that may help is reminding the person of when they said that we should take care of ourselves. That helps soften the blow of telling them we can’t do something for them because we need to take care of ourselves.
Note: If you have issues with setting boundaries, I highly recommend you start working on this with a therapist .
Lastly, just realize that you suck at helping others when you’re not taking care of yourself. If you’re burnt out mentally and physically, you’re going to make more mistakes and screw things up. Most people would rather not want our help than have us come up in there messing everything up.
Lying About Quality
Us people-pleasers hate hurting peoples’ feelings. How often do we lie to someone and say we like something when we actually don’t? Maybe they cooked us an awful meal, or they’re trying to pursue something creative, and it’s absolutely awful. But, rather than telling them the truth, we tell them that it tastes delicious and their new project came out amazing.
A couple of years ago, I read this great book called and it really helped me with my people-pleasing. It’s a super short book (I think the audiobook is only an hour and a half), and I can’t recommend it enough. The part about lying to people about the quality of their work made so much sense, and since then, I no longer tell people I like things that I don’t.
Let’s play this scenario out real quick.
Your best friend in the world decides they want to be a painter. That’s pretty cool because we all love it when our friends find a passion they can dive into. The problem is, she sucks at painting. It’s her first painting, and she asks you what you think. Being the people pleaser that you are, you tell her that it’s amazing and you love it, and you tell her that she’s a natural. This makes her super happy. In fact, it makes her so happy that she goes out and spends a bunch of money on some more paint supplies.
She continues to paint, and as time goes on, she gets better, but it’s still not all that good. You’re her best friend, so she keeps asking you for your opinion, and you keep telling her how amazing it is. She was nervous about showing it to other people, but you’ve given her the confidence she needs.
She starts posting it on Instagram and reaching out to local art galleries to submit her work. Then, people start telling her the truth that it’s not that good, and she even gets some nasty comments.
But how did this happen? You’ve told her how amazing her art was. Clearly you were lying, and now your friend is really mad at you for letting her embarrass herself.
See how lying can have the exact opposite effect of what you’re trying to attempt? A great rule of them is to ask yourself if you’d want someone to give you honest feedback or just tell you everything you did was great.
Now, if this resonates with you, the number one thing I’ll say is don’t be a dick. Don’t just tell your friend, “Your art/singing/music/project sucks.” That’s not constructive criticism, and they can’t learn or grow from it at all.
You can still be nice while being a good friend, significant other, family member or coworker. For example, my girlfriend is an artist, and she regularly asks me what I think. If I have critiques, I always remind her that art is subjective and that I’m no art expert. I tell her what I like and what I think might need some work, and then it’s her choice whether she wants to change it or not.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that the best people in your life tell you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear. This is how people grow and progress in whatever they’re pursuing. If there comes a point where there’s no improvement, cross that bridge when you get there. Maybe they’re just doing it for a fun hobby or something to do to work on their own mental health, and in that case, do your thang.
Some people are the worst dancers or singers on earth, but if it helps them relieve a little bit of stress from this crazy world, then good for them.
Saying “Yes” Is Making You Hate People
How often do we blame other people for our emotions? This is absolutely ridiculous and lacks all forms of logic. If people could make us feel a certain way, we’d be able to make other people feel happy 24/7, and we’d all live in world peace. The reality is, we can’t make anyone feel a certain way, and nobody can make us feel a certain way.
One of my favorite quotes is from Shakespear, which says, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
How we perceive a situation is the only thing that makes it good or bad. Being stuck in traffic is terrible, but not if you left early and are listening to a great podcast or your jams are playing on a playlist.
We’re all responsible for our own emotions, and I used to shuck this responsibility for a long time when I was a people pleaser. I was one of the angriest people-pleasers you’d ever meet. People were constantly asking me to do them favors or attend things I didn’t want to go to, and I’d say, “Yes! Of course!” because I was “such a nice guy”.
But, I didn’t actually want to do those things. Rather than taking any responsibility for the fact that I put myself in the situation, I’d get mad at the other person. I couldn’t believe they’d even ask me to do such a thing! How dare they manipulate me because they know I’m such a people pleaser! I actually talked about this where an influencer blamed someone else for being “manipulated” as well.