Making the world a better place, helping others, and being generous are beautiful and wonderful traits. I truly believe that our purpose on Earth has a lot to do with that above list. However, I also believe that the extremes of anything, even goodness, can turn into a bad thing. Being a “People-pleaser”, “Care-taker” or “Peace-maker” unfortunately can lead to big problems if you do not have healthy boundaries in place and if you are engaging in these behaviors for the wrong reasons. It is never healthy or okay to help others when that helping results in harming yourself or them. Do any of the below items resonate with you?????
· Caring about me or taking care of myself is selfish or wrong
· I only feel good if I am doing good for others
· I’ll lie to help or cover for someone
· I hate rejection and need others to accept and validate me
· I take the blame when it isn’t my fault so the problem goes away
· I don’t share my opinions or ideas to avoid making others upset
· I avoid confrontations at all cost
· I put 99% of the effort into my relationships
· I never stand up for myself or tell others “no”
· I always put myself last
· I bend over backwards to help people
· I try to fix people and help them to change
· I put more effort into solving my loved-ones’ problems than they do
· I apologize even if I haven’t done anything wrong
· I let people who repeatedly hurt me stay in my life
· I allow people to take advantage of me financially, emotionally, or physically
· I feel guilty if I can’t help someone
· I don’t deserve nice things or love
If any of the above hit home, then it is time to look at your values, limits, and boundaries. It is good to be kind, but what are your motives? Why are you engaging in these behaviors and what do you get out of them? Don’t say “I don’t know“, because deep down inside you do know! Be honest with yourself, why are you doing these things? Do you think your behaviors are healthy?
I know these can be tough questions to answer. Humans engage in all behavior either to gain/receive something or to avoid/escape something. Everything you do at the end of the day is about you and your people-pleasing behavior is ultimately about you too! Many times, we engage in the above behaviors to relieve anxiety, establish control, to avoid guilt, to escape discomfort, or due to having a low self-esteem or being insecure. Many of us have learned these behaviors in childhood. Often when we engage in “people-pleasing” we open ourselves up to manipulation, abuse, and enabling others. Sometimes when we try to help too much, we end up hurting ourselves and others.
Don’t get me wrong, it is still wonderful to be helpful, thoughtful, and giving but in moderation and with the right intentions. If you tend to people-please or care-take set boundaries and limits to your giving and helping. Also, make sure you are giving to yourself too! You are responsible for taking good care of yourself first, no matter what is going on in your world. Self-care, self-compassion, and time to relax are extremely important to your physical, mental and spiritual health. Another good point to remember is that the only person you can change, heal or fix is YOU! Take time to get to know yourself and identify your strengths and what you would like to improve, then develop a plan to people- please, care- take and peace-make with yourself! Here are some tips to start:
· Let the people in your life know that you are working on setting boundaries and that you are going to be trying to change your “people-pleasing” so they are prepared.
· Do something nice for yourself each day- maybe a $5 coffee or smoothie treat, listen to music you like when driving, watch something that you want on television, take a hot bath. Do something every day to take care of you. You deserve it!
· Take time each day to relax: a 15 minute walk, meditation, reading, deep breathing or whatever makes you feel calm.
· Practice saying “no” and then pay attention to how you feel after, tell yourself it is okay to set limits and say “no”. It may not feel good at first, but you can learn that it is okay to say “no”.
· When you say no, keep it short. Try these phrases: “I am sorry I can’t”, “If I could, I would but I can’t”, “No, thank you”, “I am not available”. Then, walk away. This takes practice but you do not need to explain why you are saying no.
· Set a budget and make schedules to manage money, time, and responsibilities, make sure you are being fair to you. When you reach your time or money limit, STOP!
· Volunteer for charities or organizations that are not associated with family or friends so you can detach easily from these responsibilities. If you enjoy helping, try to help people who you do not have relationships with.
· Practice expressing your feelings and opinions with people you feel safest with first.
· Practice positive self-talk and affirmations. Remind yourself that you are worthy and deserve kindness, love, and beautiful things.