Posted by Jan den Breejen (220.127.116.11) on August 04, 2003 at 05:56:01:
What is the likely Oldham style of this person?:
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There are many different ways in which your life can suffer from people pleasing. I am a people pleaser and in many ways it has led to different problems in my life. I decided to create a page on this topic as I feel people pleasing relates especially to those with eating disorders. Many women have wrote to me expressing how they feel like "door mats" and how they feel used by people in their life. Often they express feelings of resentment and anger towards themselves and to others. Many try to please others out of plain guilt and as with anger and resentment, guilt is self-defeating and will do you more harm than good. People pleasing seems to be a common problem mainly among women and the solution to it lays within each and every one of us.
People pleasing is the need and want to make others happy even if it means ignoring your own needs and we all have needs. I believe people pleasing begins early in life and is not a character weakness. Pleasing others and ignoring your own needs can affect your relationships with people, the things you do, the way you talk and more importantly the choices that you make in life. It can ultimately drain you emotionally and physically and even lead you to depression.
I have slowly over the years realized that people pleasing takes a great toll on all areas of your life in a negative way. There are many times I have said, "My only crime is being too nice" and it isn't far from the truth. Countless times I put the needs of others before my own and sadly, the more giving I do, the less I seem to get in return. Many times I feel the happiness of others is more important than my own and that the happiness of others creates mine. The truth about people pleasing is that it is about powerlessness, to gain power, control and self-esteem in the hopes that you will get something back in return.
When it comes to your friends, do you find you do more of the giving than receiving?
If a friend asks a favor from me, I always say yes. In fact, I hate it when people ask favors from me because I know I can't say no. This is one of my biggest problems and something I am working very hard at changing. I will agree to do something for someone even if I don't want to. Why? I think there are different reasons and answers to that question. First, I fear that people won't like me or will be angry at me if I don't do as they asked. This isn't always true but this is how I feel. Sometimes I'll do something out of guilt, I just feel too guilty not to do what I've been asked. Next, I wonder what will they think of me. Will they think I'm lazy and just too selfish to help them out? It is just easier for me to say yes than to experience all the feelings I get when I say no. It doesn't matter how I feel or what I want and don't want to do - I just do it and put my own feelings aside to make someone else happy. There is a result to my actions. After I do the favor, I feel angry and resentful, not only at myself but towards the person who asked the favor in the first place. I feel angry that I didn't say no and resentful that the favor was a lot of extra work and time that I didn't have to spare. I feel angry and resentful at the friend for asking such favors from me and at times I feel they are taking advantage of my kindness and the fact that I can't say say no. Over time, I end up avoiding the friend altogether when the real problem is with me. It is an endless cycle of people pleasing. I don't always say it and admit it but I do let people take advantage of me. By always doing for others what I don't want to do and going out of my way to make others happy and ignoring my own needs, I am just leaving the door open for others to take advantage and manipulate me.
Since I am a mother, I know it's okay and I feel happy when I put the needs of my children before my own. However, when I constantly put the needs of others in front of my own - there's the problem. I mean well but if you're anything like me, your actions are sure to eventually lead you to anger and resentment. The solution to people pleasing is SELF EMPOWERMENT. You can't change other people but you can work on yourself.
What You Can Do...
Set some personal limits for yourself. The key is sticking to your limits and not allowing yourself to violate them. For example, I have promised myself different limits that I try to keep like "I won't run an errand for someone if I can't handle the extra work" or "I won't do more than my share of the housework" or "I won't do something for someone unless I really want to do it".
Stand up for what you believe in even if others don't feel the same. Standing up and knowing what I believe in makes me feel my life has purpose. People might agree or like the things that you believe in but in the end they will respect you more for standing up and staying firm.
Take control over your own behavior and don't worry about other people. In reality, the only thing we really can control is our own behavior and actions. We can't make anyone else do what they don't want, we can't make them like us or love us and we certainly can't make others think what we want them to think. Spend your time and energy on your own actions and behavior and less on other people.
Be kind but learn to say no. This must be the hardest one of all. Saying no isn't easy but I really think it gets easier over time. I'm not trying to say that you should stop helping people or being nice because if you're like me, it's your nature to be the way you are. When someone asks me to do something, I know ask myself beforehand, "Will I feel angry or resentful afterwards?" If the answer is yes, then the answer is no. It's not easy but after time you will find yourself less angry and resentful.
Remember, the most important person is you and you deserve to be happy. You don't have to please others just to boost your self-esteem or to get approval from others. No one has to live just making others happy and ignoring their own needs. If you are a people pleaser, start empowering yourself and start making a change to a new and happier life.
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