3 easy to remember ways to stop people pleasing
Copyright of Elaine Arthur Online, Telephone and Outdoor Counsellor and Coach
Are you drained by trying to meet the expectations of others day after day?
Do you feel that no matter what you do for some people it’s never enough?
Do you long to break free from people pleasing?
Well I’m pleased to tell you that there is hope and a way to make choices to help you to break free from people pleasing.
In this post I will share 3 easy to remember ways to stop people pleasing.
First let’s take a look at why we can become people pleasers
Often we become people pleasers because it is something we’ve learnt to do, possibly at an early age e.g. to be part of a group of friends or to keep the peace with an angry parent.
We may fear rejection by this person if we don’t comply with their wishes and maybe we don’t have anyone else.
It’s something we can enjoy up to a point e.g. being needed, but it can become too much!
From a moral or faith motivation point of view we may feel we should go the extra mile and tolerate a lot in relationships.
It’s become what is expected of us, but it’s more demanding than we thought it would be.
Often there can be links to low self esteem and how we view ourselves.
The Jug of Demands
Before you take action to please another person first ask yourself these 3 questions honestly:
J – Jug of demands– How much capacity is in your jug in this season?
If you think of a jug, there is a limit as to how much the jug can hold before it overflows. In the same way there is a limit to how much each of us can cope with physically, mentally and emotionally. That’s our capacity.
Some people have more capacity than others. Just focus on your own capacity in this season.
As you think of the demands upon you imagine that those demands are all taking up space in your jug. Think of the major demands upon you at this time e.g. a significant loss or major life change may be taking up most of your capacity.
Allow for any unforeseen demands as well.
Do you have enough capacity in your jug for what this person is demanding of you without you tipping into overwhelm (or overflow in the case of the image of liquid in the jug)?
Visuals are helpful in seeing our reality so you could draw your jug or print the jug picture above in this blog. You could draw lines or shade in parts of the jug to represent how much space each major demand is taking up.
U – Ultimate view – Ultimately will you regret it more if you do what this person wants or if you don’t do what this person wants? This is a great question for cutting to the chase and seeing what the reality of your decision might be like for you, not just now but longer term.
G – Good friend. What would you say to a good friend if they were in your position? If you can give your friend healthy advice then give yourself healthy advice too!
Not only is the visual of the jug a great way to remember this the 3 questions start with initials which spell out the word JUG.
J is for Jug – how much capacity do you have?
U is for Ultimate View – will you regret it more if you do what this person wants or if you don’t?
G is for Good friend – what would you say to a good friend in your situation?
Now use your answers to the 3 questions to evaluate whether you should do what will please the other person or not. It’s a great way to weigh up the costs and find ways to make healthy decisions.
If the costs are too high then saying no in the first place stops you from getting into a cycle of pleasing the person.
Maybe you can continue to be in relationship with the person, but you need to manage their expectations. So here is a real life example of that.
Not being valued – why your voice matters
I once knew a lady who was always late for every meeting. She was the same with everyone and there were always many reasons for being late, but it was evident that this was a pattern.
I found myself getting more and more frustrated with her. Not only did it waste my time, but there were financial costs e.g. longer car parking charges.
There were also costs to my health. By the time our meeting should have ended often she hadn’t left home. I was worn out as I thought I would be home by the time she was just arriving.
Yet time and again I accepted the excuses even though it wasn’t in my best interests. I said it was okay when it wasn’t!
So what changed? Well while I put up with it nothing changed. She continued to be late and the excuses kept coming each time.
Eventually my frustration turned to anger as I realised that this person didn’t value me or my time or my health.
I’d been reading a book about boundaries at that time which included the importance of mutual respect and how freeing this can be for everyone.
I decided I needed some respect too. Although it wasn’t easy I needed to put some boundaries in place.
When we arranged to meet I began to say in advance of the meeting the exact time I would be leaving by. It wasn’t easy to stick to it, but I was so glad I did it in the end.
She wasn’t nearly as late as before and on some occasions she was even on time!
As for the relationship well it didn’t damage it at all. It actually strengthened it. I wasn’t angry or stressed when she arrived and I was able to focus more on the content of our conversation.
In their book “Boundaries” Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend say that:
“If we love and respect people who tell us no, they will love and respect our no.”
I’ve now been able to put the same approach into many work and life situations, which has been hugely empowering and good for my physical mental and emotional health.
Positive psychology research shows that our choices in how we respond to situations are 4 times more impacting than the circumstances themselves. It is possible to break free from people pleasing.
So is it time for you to check if you are people pleasing?
If you are which boundaries will you put in place to break free from people pleasing?
Remember the 3 points in the JUG acronym to help you to stop people pleasing:
J- Jug – how much capacity do you have?
U-Ultimate View – will you regret it more if you do what this person wants or if you don’t?
G-Good friend – what would you say to a good friend in your situation?
Your answers to these questions will lead to your best decision as to whether you say no or yes . If you say yes remember to still have your voice and manage the expectations from the outset.
That is ultimately best for you and ultimately best for the relationships that matter to you!