3 Tips to Stop Feeling Like a Doormat and Start Living More Authentically
A friend of mine, Dr. Harold Bloomfield, wrote a wonderful book called Making Peace With Your Parents. In this book, he describes a type of person that he calls a “people pleaser.”
According to Dr. Bloomfield, a people pleaser is someone who will go out of their way to make sure that everyone else is happy, often to the detriment of their own happiness and fulfillment.
This can happen when the person doesn’t value themselves. Ultimately, people pleasers usually end up feeling like doormats.
If you think that deep down you have some people pleaser tendencies, know this: You’ve most likely been trained to be a people pleaser from the time you were very young.
And here’s the good news: if you WERE trained to be a people pleaser, you can UN-TRAIN yourself, too!
In fact, Shakespeare once wrote:
To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
What he means is: Take care of yourself first, and that way you’ll be in a position to take care of others.
Are you being true to yourself?
A few years ago, I had a client named Stacey, who was in her 40s at the time. Stacey wanted to feel more fulfilled in her life and career. But deep down, Stacey had an ongoing need to please others, and it was negatively impacting her whole life.
If someone else asked her to do something, especially her mother, Stacey didn’t know how to say, “No, that’s not good for me,” and feel okay about it. If she didn’t please other people, she couldn’t feel good about herself.
Stacey’s mother had never approved of her and had been jealous of Stacey for a long time. She withheld her love and approval, and the little girl inside Stacey desperately longed for her mommy’s approval.
So, no matter what her mother asked for or how much time it was going to take, even if Stacey had to miss a vacation, she felt she had to help her mom.
As Stacey and I started working together, she began to take a look at what was really happening in her life, and how all of her relationships were being affected by her desire to please other people, including the man she loved, who she’d been with for 20 years but couldn’t ever fully commit to him because she was so busy taking care of other people.
Using the steps below, I helped Stacey establish some new patterns over time so that she could actually say no when she meant no and say yes when she meant yes.
Establishing these patterns helped Stacey be true to the people she cared about because she was being true to herself. And you can, too!
How to Stop Being a People Pleaser
For three steps to stop being a people pleaser, feeling like a doormat and start living more authentically, keep reading.
Step 1. Pause before you say anything.
If someone asks you to do something and you have a longstanding people pleaser pattern, the voice in your head tends to sound something like,
“Say yes, say yes.”
If you say yes, you’ll get a momentary feeling of happiness, because you’ll be happy that the other person is happy.
But deep down, if it’s not making you happy, then your actions are driven by a need for instant gratification or acceptance, and there will be a cost to that.
So, the next time someone asks you to do something for them, take a moment.
Take a breath. It’s perfectly okay to say,
“You know what, let me think about that and I’ll get back to you tomorrow.”
And then, think carefully about what it means to agree to doing what this person wants.
- Does it conflict with something else that’s important to you?
- Does the idea of saying yes to that request feed you or deplete you?
- Does it conflict with your core values?
This step may be new for you, so know that it might take some practice to help others while also taking care of yourself.
Step 2. Know that it’s not only okay to say no, it can be essential to say no.
It may feel very uncomfortable to say no, but eventually, you’ll begin to realize how good it feels to be authentic, and how much more love and energy you can express when you’re not only good to others, but when you’re good to yourself, too.
Not to mention that you can still be kind when you say no.
You can say,
“I would love to do that, but I’ve got other plans that are really important to me, so ask me again another time. Next time, I’d love to help you.”
Don’t say, “Let me see if I can reschedule it,” unless you really want to reschedule it.
Step 3. Let go of the guilt.
To help you more easily let go of any guilt you may feel when you say no to someone’s request, replace it with this thought:
I wouldn’t want anyone else to say yes to me when they didn’t really want to say yes. I can say yes when I mean yes. I can say no when I mean no. I can love and care about others, AND I can love and care about myself.
If you think about this deeply, I think that it’s going to be true for you.
You don’t want someone to say yes to you just because they want to please you. You want someone to say yes to you because they want to!
And guess what? Deep down, the people who care about you most likely want the same for you. They want you to be happy and to have a life you love living.
When you start being truly authentic about how you feel, everything becomes easier.
You find yourself more at ease, you have more peace of mind and you feel more creative. And you begin to have this growing sense that life is really good, right where you are.
Let’s review the 3 steps to stop being a people pleaser
When someone requests something of you, first delay your response and check in with how you really feel about performing that request before you say yes or no.
Next, say no, or not now, when doing so feels right to you.
And lastly, let go of the guilt and replace it with, “I wouldn’t want anybody else to say yes to me if they didn’t really want to, and so it’s okay for me to say yes, it’s okay for me to no, and it’s okay for me to care, not only about others, but also about myself.”
So here’s a question for you:
Have you ever said yes to someone’s request when you really wanted to say no? If so, how did you handle it? Let me know in the comments below 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼
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Fear has a sneaky way of creeping into our minds and making us believe that our biggest dreams in life are unattainable, or worse, that we’re not worthy of them.
In reality, this simply isn’t true. We’ve just been conditioned to think this way. We’ve become afraid to try new things, move out of our comfort zones and reach for the stars.
The only way to overcome this fear is through a process called “thought re-patterning,” which you’ll learn all about in my brand new, FREE eBook, Master Your Mind: Turning Fear into Fuel.
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