The Cost of Keeping Everyone Happy - Stop Being a People Pleaser

The Cost of Keeping Everyone Happy – Stop Being a People Pleaser

Mental Health

Tamika Lewis November 11, 2021

Do you consider yourself a supportive, compassionate, and respectful person always ready to do whatever it takes to please others? If so, know that the cost of keeping everyone happy is not negligible. It can take a serious toll on you (if it already hasn’t). There are times you must put yourself first and learn how to say NO. If you are not certain how, let us provide you with a few valuable pointers.

Gender-Based Roles or Why Women Tend to Please More

While people-pleasing behavior can be seen in both sexes, studies have shown that it’s more common for women. It doesn’t come as a surprise considering that we live in a patriarchal society full of gender-based stereotypes. Although we have made strides in breaking down these notions, in many households, the man is still perceived as the provider, and the woman is expected to take care of everyone around her. She is expected to cook, clean, wash, keep a decent job, all while remaining a caring mother and loving wife.

The situation is even more stressful for women of color who also have to deal with racism and intersectional oppression on a daily basis. Remember that, for example, black women in the workplace face more work stress than white women. In the end, it doesn’t come as a surprise that more and more women of color have been reaching out for help.

So, how can you, as a woman of color, deal with all of it? While some solutions demand change in the way our society thinks and functions, there are some that can be produced by you. And learning how to put yourself first is the beginning of it.

black girl holding a pillow
Putting everybody ahead of you while disregarding your own needs is not a healthy habit

The Difference Between Caring and People-Pleasing

Nobody says that you’re only supposed to look out for yourself and avoid being helpful, supportive, and compassionate. You won’t stop being all that, especially if you are a mother. The key is to understand the difference between helping and pleasing others. They come from different places in your heart. Pleasers often act out of insecurity, need for acceptance, or guilt. So how can you recognize the manifestation of this behavior? Some of the usual signs are:

  • Having little time for yourself, or none at all, because you are too busy doing stuff for your kids, husband, boss, friends, and acquaintances,
  • Doing things out of guilt, to prove your devotion, or get someone to like you,
  • Putting everything others want above your own wishes,
  • Not doing or saying what you really want for fear of hurting others,
  • Taking the blame for something that isn’t your fault (but you feel like it is).

Understanding the place where it’s all coming from is not as easy as it seems. If that’s your case, don’t ask yourself if therapy works – there is no shame in choosing a therapist and making your first therapy appointment. Remember that money spent on your health is money well spent. Reaching out to the best professional counselor for women can be more than helpful in changing your self-damaging ways.

black family after therapy
Do things out of love, not out of guilt or obligation

What Is the Cost of Keeping Everyone Happy?

When wanting to keep everybody content, people-pleasers tend to forget about themselves, which eventually affects their mental or even physical health. Feelings like anger and frustration will become dominant, making the person resentful and miserable. And the worst part is that no matter how hard they try, making everybody happy is just an unachievable ideal, which further deepens the frustration.

In addition to that, note that pleasers often attract manipulative characters. Small towns, big cities, it doesn’t matter – you can find manipulators everywhere. The willingness to help will be abused in different ways. That will leave the manipulator with an achieved goal (a fulfilled task, for example) and the pleaser exhausted and unhappy.

Are Pleasers More or Less Productive at Work?

Do you find yourself overwhelmed with tasks, with too many sleepless nights behind you? In a toxic environment, bosses will notice your inability to say no and start exploiting you to the limits. However, even in a positive work atmosphere, you can be overwhelmed with work only because you don’t want to “disappoint” your superiors. Whatever the case may be, just remember – if you overburden yourself with the workload, you will not be able to give your best.

Keeping Everyone Pleased Can Become an Addiction in Some Ways

Pleasing others is usually not a conscious decision, but rather a behavior that stems from childhood. That is why once you start with it, it’s not that easy to stop. Over time, a person will fail to put themselves before the needs of others in any situation. They will make themselves a low priority, which is bound to cause less or more severe mental health crises over time. It will all lead to feelings of frustration and anger. Remember that those in your life who love you and cherish you wouldn’t ever wish for you to feel that way.

black family after therapy
Those who value you will be glad to see the change and the new you

How to Make Your Own Happiness a Priority?

Making yourself a priority is more than justified in some cases. It doesn’t mean that you’ll give up on others. The needs of a newborn or a dependable family member will always come first, as they should. But what about other cases? We created a list of the best techniques to use to restrain your people-pleasing tendencies.

Here’s What You Need to Do

Try practicing the following, and you should be able to recognize the results soon enough:

  • Recognize manipulative behavior – many will try to use the fact that you’ll go over and beyond for others to their advantage. They can use emotional manipulation to get what they want and achieve their goals. Do you have someone like that in your surroundings? Even if you don’t recognize this pattern, note that the ones who constantly complain about your new behavior are the ones who are using you the most.
  • Set boundaries – be transparent with others, but also with yourself, on what you are willing to do. It may come hard at first, but you’ll feel more comfortable saying and doing what you wish as days pass. One of the most important things is to recognize that you have choices. If you don’t want to do something, don’t – it’s that simple. You are not obliged to explain yourself to anyone.
  • Practice putting your needs and happiness first – the first time you say no, your anxiety levels will probably go through the roof. Don’t worry – this is expected, and you’ll feel it less and less over time. If you consider it necessary, you can even search for the best therapist of color that can assist you on this journey. They can provide you with useful phrases and body language that will show others how serious you are. Simultaneously, it will be someone who can completely understand your position in the family and society as a woman of color.
  • Encourage yourself constantly – remind yourself that you are on the right path in your life and doing what’s best. This is especially important when you feel that you might give in to your old ways.
  • Take care of yourself – the enormous impact of social media pushes the picture of the “perfect woman” down our throats. Rediscovering things you love and letting yourself enjoy them will not magically make you one, but it will help you feel better about yourself. Putting yourself first means taking care of yourself, physically and emotionally. Try finding different self-care ideas for women. Use some self-care tips that will make you feel good and help you calm down at times when you’re dealing with stress. When you start practicing this, the surge in your happiness levels will be noticeable in no time.

Will Your Family (and Other) Relationships Suffer?

Some wish to say NO but are too afraid of the way their family members will react to the change. You can expect some pushback at the initial stages, but that doesn’t mean you should stop. Communicate with your loved ones and try to explain what you’re going through and what you’re trying to achieve. After the initial shock, everyone will slowly get accustomed to the new (and improved) you. Your children won’t stop loving you after you start saying no. Moreover, your NO can even have a positive impact by teaching them to become more mature and self-reliant.

As for others in your life, be prepared to lose some of your acquaintances and “friends”. Those who choose to leave were close to you because of what you’d do for them, not for who you are. Whatever it is, your brain, money, or attention, they will show their true colors after you stop providing them with it. It will be hard watching the people you care about walk away, but keep in mind that those who abandoned you were not worth keeping in the first place.

black woman smiling
Put your happiness first and enjoy your own life - those who love you will accept it

Determine Your New Life Goals and Stick to Them

Giving up your people-pleasing behavior will be hard at the beginning and demand continuous effort. However, it will eventually come more and more naturally. You just need to be persistent and put yourself first whenever you deem it appropriate. Remember: this doesn’t make you selfish! You will continue to help and support others, but it will come from a place of love and to those deserving of it. By learning how to view your happiness as a priority, you’ll be able to preserve your emotional and mental health – and that should be the final goal.

Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Professional Help

Fighting yourself isn’t always easy, and support provided by friends and family can be constructive during the process. However, sometimes it’s not enough. Find out more about the difference between therapist and psychologist and get professional help. If you’re wondering Can I find a good therapist near me, please  contact us and book an appointment.

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