The Most Damaging Things You Can Say To A People-Pleaser

The best way to please a people-pleaser? Understand where they’re coming from.

For people-pleasers, the tendency to put their needs on the back-burner and prioritize other’s desires usually stems from childhood. A child learns how to people-please by first learning how to parent-please.

“During their formative years, these individuals likely received validation and approval when they fulfilled their parent’s needs, creating a link between self-worth and meeting external expectations,” said Imi Lo, a therapist and owner of Eggshell Therapy.

The goal in adulthood for people-pleasers should be to unravel learned behaviors and make the shift toward self-compassion, but that’s not a particularly easy task.

“It’s a process of breaking free from the conditioning that shaped their tendencies,” Lo said. “A people-pleaser needs to recognize the importance of self-care without feeling selfish or guilty.”

If you’re friends, in a relationship or work closely with a people-pleaser, you can support them by not putting them in predicaments where they’re forced to quiet their own needs or wishes. What kinds of casual statements and requests should you avoid? Below, Lo and other therapists share five situations to never put a people-pleaser in.

‘Come on, just do it!’

People-pleasers almost across the board have a hard time saying no. That’s why it’s important not to guilt them into an activity or a decision. If they told you they can’t make your birthday trip, don’t pester them until they cave in and go; chances are, saying no was a big challenge for them.

“If you want to help a people-pleaser to honor themselves more, try to let them make their own decisions and respect them,” said Lia Huynh, a marriage and family therapist in Milpitas, California.

How to deal if you’re the people pleaser:

Huynh tells her quick-to-please clients to slow down and think about what they really want before they give into external pressure.

“Ask yourself, ‘Do I really want to do this or am I just getting caught up in what they’re saying is best for me?’” she said.

If you don’t want to go to something, just be clear about it. Oftentimes people think saying no means you have to be harsh, but you can tactfully bow out, too.

“A simple ‘I’d love to go, but I just can’t. Thanks for asking, though!’ or ‘That’s a great idea, but I’m going to pass this time’ can convey your wants without putting the other person down,” Huynh said.

Anastasia Dobrusina via Getty Images

Oftentimes people think saying no means you have to be harsh, but you can tactfully say “Thanks but no thanks,” too.

‘I love you, but you’re being a doormat.’

Please avoid the “tough-love” tactic of calling the people-pleaser in your life a doormat.

“This phrase can be particularly hurtful as it suggests that a people-pleaser’s accommodating nature is a sign of weakness or lack of self-respect,” said Joel Frank, the founder and lead psychologist at Duality Psychological Services in Sherman Oaks, California.

How to deal if you’re the people pleaser:

If you’re called a “doormat,” acknowledge the comment without internalizing it, Lo advised. Reflect on your own behavior and assess whether there are areas where you can assert yourself more.

“But don’t let the term ‘doormat’ define your self-worth,” she said. “Respond by explaining that you’re working on setting boundaries and prioritizing self-care.”

If the comment really upsets you, Frank suggests saying something more assertive: “Tell your friend, ‘Yes, I choose to be kind and helpful, but that’s kind of harsh. I have boundaries, and I’d appreciate it if you acknowledge them.’”

‘You didn’t have to do that.’

Let’s say the people-pleaser in your life went above and beyond to celebrate your new job: They took you to a fancy dinner at a new restaurant that’s near impossible to get a table at and even got you a little gift, even though you know money is tight for them.

Overwhelmed, you might tell them “You did way too much.” That’s understandable, but when you make this statement to a people-pleaser, you devalue what they believe to be their genuine efforts, said Ashley McGirt, a psychotherapist in the Pacific Northwest.

“Reassure them that their actions are appreciated, but it’s essential for them to understand that they are not obligated to go above and beyond,” she said.

A better approach is to tell them, “I want you to know that I value your kindness, and it’s OK if you don’t feel the need to do things like this every time!”

How to deal if you’re the people pleaser:

McGirt recommends people-pleasers interrogate why they go to such great lengths to accommodate or spoil others in their lives.

“If this is a habit of yours, it might be helpful to journal and assess why you did what you did,” she said. “Was it something you wanted to do? Was it something you thought the person wanted you to do? Did you think by doing the action you would feel loved or appreciated? What was your past experience when doing that?”

If a people-pleaser went above and beyond for you, let them know that you appreciate the efforts but you'd be just as happy with less.

10’000 Hours via Getty Images

If a people-pleaser went above and beyond for you, let them know that you appreciate the efforts but you’d be just as happy with less.

‘I really expected better of you.’

A people-pleaser believes that they will only truly be loved if they can prove their worth through their actions, said Sean Davis, the founder of The Davis Group Counseling and Wellness Services. A statement like this only affirms that belief.

“To have someone say they failed is not just an evaluation of their behavior but an appraisal of their lovability,” he said.

How to deal if you’re the people pleaser:

Change is hard, especially when those around you have come to expect you to prioritize their needs over yours, Davis said. When someone reacts poorly to your boundaries or change in behaviors, remind yourself that another’s disappointment may have nothing to do with you.

“It could be the other person’s issue. Even if the feedback is fair, remember that it is an evaluation of your behavior rather than your worth,” he said. “And if the other person meant it as an evaluation of your worth, they’re wrong, and you may want to set a firm boundary around such shaming statements in the future.”

Work on building resilience around others’ anger by changing your thought patterns and self-talk: Just because they’re angry doesn’t mean they’re right or that the anger has anything to do with you.

“Maybe they had a bad day,” he said. “Or even if you did something to warrant some anger, their show of anger isn’t a reflection of your worth — it’s usually a reflection of their emotional regulation skills.”

“One thing people-pleasers need to work on is tolerating when someone is not happy with them," marriage and family therapist Lia Huynh said. "This feeling can turn into rejection and then self-loathing.
“One thing people-pleasers need to work on is tolerating when someone is not happy with them,” marriage and family therapist Lia Huynh said. “This feeling can turn into rejection and then self-loathing.

‘You know, so-and-so won’t be happy about that.’

Chances are a people-pleaser has already factored in how others will perceive any decision they make, so no need to pile on with this kind of peer pressure, Huynh said.

How to deal if you’re the people pleaser:

Ask yourself if it’s reasonable that the person in question would be unhappy with you for your choice. If it’s reasonable, then it’s fair to consider changing course, but sometimes people aren’t happy with your decisions because of their own agenda or preferences, Huynh said.

“One thing people-pleasers need to work on is tolerating when someone is not happy with them,” she said. “This feeling can turn into rejection and then self-loathing. The thoughts can start with ‘so-and-so is not happy with me’ only to lead to ‘I am a horrible person.’”

Work on your internal dialogue here. “Instead, you can say to yourself, ‘So-and-so is not happy with me, and that’s OK. I am still a good person worthy of love.’”


Article Source : huffpost.com

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