Tuesday, November 30, 2010

People Pleasing

Just when I think I am getting somewhere with my people pleasing tendencies, they pop up when I least expect them. It's like walking along on your merry way and suddenly having an ice cold bucket of water thrown in your face. My first inclination is always to satisfy what is being asked of me. And even when I'm not asked, if I perceive a need, I jump in there to try and help the best that I can.

When I type those words, it sounds like a good thing that is commendable, but the problem is that it's a short fall from helping others to having a capital "S" for Sucker carved into your forehead. I don't take kindly to being bullied, but it usually goes on for a little while before I realize what's happening and put a stop to it. The downside of trying to make everyone happy is being walked on and taken advantage of, and eventually a line appears that no one should cross, and when it is breached, change has to occur.

It's so much easier when relationships are smooth sailing. But because we are all people with individual needs and stresses, the easy times don't last very long. Conflict comes, and how we handle it says a lot about ourselves. I can't control what others say and do, to me or around me, but I can control my response. I can pause before I say yes or no, and really think about it. I can be more aware of when I feel pressured and not respond to someone else's force.

I have to deal with my own anxieties about letting people down. I can't make everyone happy at my own expense. That only works for so long, and then I burn out and become resentful. I don't want to hold grudges and be angry. The goal is to let the little things go, but change how I react going forward so that a more positive end result is achieved.

People pleasing is a two-edged sword. I want to continue to help others and be reliable, but there are times to say yes and times to say no, and the way we are asked makes a huge difference to each situation. There are limits to what we can do, and recognizing those boundaries and learning to live within them is an important puzzle piece for our mental and physical health. If that piece is not handled carefully, it tears apart the fabric of our well being and relationships, so our own limits must be respected.


  1. Setting up boundries. It is the hardest, yet most important thing we can do for ourselves. If we can do it, then our children can learn how valuable it is in their own lives.

    Love your writing! Thanks

  2. I don't really know who specifically to thank for this kind comment and compliment, but thank you!

    I agree about the importance of modeling effective boundaries for our kids. The trick is to know where the line should fall, and adjust as needed for each situation that arises.