It is very common nowadays for people to feel obligated. Whether that be in social settings or in their own personal life, people like to be liked. Though there are some exceptions, I think it’s a fair assumption that most people don’t enjoy conflict or coming across as difficult. The fact that saying no to things and doing what you want to do are often seen as selfish or rude is something that has changed our societal dynamic.
Psychology Today describes a “people-pleaser” as “one of the nicest and most helpful people you know. They never say ‘no.’ You can always count on them for a favor. In fact, they spend a great deal of time doing things for other people.” This may sound like a great friend or person to have around, but when you are this person, it’s not as healthy for you as it may be for those around you. A lot of times, it may come from fear of rejection. Those of us who are people pleasers do not want to be rejected or disliked. Knowing that something we did, even if it’s for our own good, inconvenienced someone else is horrifying. Fear of failure is another common concern. If we say no to someone, we feel like we’ve failed them. This might result in saying yes to every single person asking you to do something this weekend, even if you don’t want to or don’t have time. You’ll make time and you’ll go. I think now, more than ever, we need to break this habit.
The first step to breaking ourselves of this toxic habit is to establish personal boundaries. These are defined as “guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits.” In other words, we have to not let people walk all over us. We don’t have to feel guilty politely saying no to plans, we don’t have to help everyone just because we feel obligated. Constantly giving parts of yourself emotionally to others is extremely draining. It also does us no good to not stick up for ourselves in certain situations.
One of the most common examples of people-pleasing is going to the nail salon, seeing the color on your nails, realizing it’s not what you want/like and not saying anything. Then, you end up paying for a manicure that you don’t like because you were too afraid to ask them to switch the color. I find myself in these types of situations quite often and am trying to break out of these habits. Knowing that you are entitled to your own feelings and opinions is key to not feeling guilty about going against the grain. If you really think about it, people probably won’t be as upset with you as you think they will. And if they’re truly your friends, they won’t mind you doing what you want or what’s best for you. People-pleasing can be tough to stop, but it will be so worth it once you can confidently say you are living for yourself and taking care of your mental and emotional health.
Tessa Pawlik is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.