A kid that brings an apple to teacher has a mission. Get teacher to like her and mark her grades higher. The manipulation is obvious and we scorn such tactics. And yet as we grow older many of us adopt such people pleasing poses. Not me, you say. But have you ever wanted to avoid conflict or tried to second-guess other people’s behaviours or reactions? Do you have a tendency to give up on your own desires and thoughts in deference to others? Does imagining that someone will get angry change the course of your actions? Is disapproval unbearable?
Giving away ‘yes’ when you’d rather say ‘no’ causes cracks and fissures in your self-esteem. You are telling the world (and your own brain) that you exist to trail behind in the dust of other people’s chariots
The trouble is people start to expect it when you hand out ‘yes’ like free candy. Like a drug addict you have to give more and more away to receive less and less appreciation. And the anger, resentment and bitterness grows like a fire-ball in your throat. Nice You on the outside is a thin veneer to the seething pit of snakes spitting venom on the quiet. People-pleasing depletes your energy and your reserves. You begin to feel that you have nothing left to give, but still people keep taking, because you let them.You make sure you take up less space in the room, you bow to others’ opinions, you listen endlessly to the self-congratulatory diatribe of the narcissist in the room. You do no one any favours, least of all yourself.
So you decide enough’s enough. You take a stand. You start to say No. You start to value your time, your space and your self-worth. And then you get the friction & fallout. When people are used to you being the sweet shrinking violet & suddenly you grow teeth & talons, they react angrily and defensively. They don’t want you to occupy a place of self-respect and authority.
They do exactly what you feared. They remove love, friendship, approval. They distance themselves from you, they walk away, they reject you, because they are used to taking advantage of you and using you as a punch-bag, a crutch, a doormat or a slave. The public rejection and disapproval will be a kick in the gut.
The answer is in your imagination. Create win win situations for both of you. Find solutions that work for everyone.
Sociologist Dr Caryn Aviv in her Ted talk ‘Say No to say Yes’ suggests using the phrase ‘What if?’ What if you pay me $25K more as a salary rise because I deserve it, and you get value for your money? What if we share the chores, then we get to spend more fun time together? What if we create a non-hierarchical structure so that the whole team feels more engaged?
And what do you gain with your New No? You gain self-respect. You gain time. You gain rest and energy. You gain the ability to say yes to the things that you want to say yes to. You gain self-confidence. You gain the right to be direct and authentic. You gain space to breathe. You gain power over your own destiny. You gain inner strength. You will open the flood gates for your creativity, and when you do that your life will start to flow.
You will try and you will fail, you will try and you will learn, you will try and you will grow.
Lou Hamilton is a Creative Coach & she will help you get over your people pleasing tendencies, so that you can get on with living the life you want. Email for a free consultation Lou@createlab.co.uk
Follow Lou’s daily inspirational images on Instagram brave_newgirl Twitter @createlab