Women are notorious for wanting to please people, putting others before themselves and for trying to do it all. Although these may seem on the surface to be wonderful traits, when you look deeper, they can be detrimental to both women and the ones they love. Too many women try to twist themselves into a pretzel to please everyone—even if that means hurting themselves. Not only is it impossible to constantly please everyone, it’s also incredibly unhealthy. The word for putting everyone before yourself is co-dependence and, trust me. this is NOT something to be striving for.
Healthy relationships are about a mutual give and take between two or more people. Healthy relationships are not about one person constantly giving and the other constantly taking. All people need to learn how to both give and receive in life and it’s no different in relationships. When women repeatedly put their needs on the back burner, it’s only a matter of time before those women will feel depleted, tired and burned out. Feeling burned out is seldom helpful to anyone.
Changing this dynamic of being like a rat running in a wheel, forever trying to please everyone, requires two key changes: learning to juggle the needs of others with your own needs and learning to say no. Juggling the needs of others with your own needs requires that you get clarity around what you want. You have to slow down, think, tune in and tune others out while you do so (you can tune them back in after you have clarity). On a small scale this means you figure out what you want to get done on a day-to-day basis. Knowing what you want to do today will help you determine what you can say yes to and what you must say no to. On a larger scale, it’s important to know what you want for yourself in the long term. Do you want a break? A new job? To go back to school? To start your own business? Support…? What do you want? Begin to get out of the mindset of thinking about what others want all the time while you settle for the leftovers for yourself. Instead, get skilled at including yourself in that picture. Remember, I’m speaking about a mutual give and take, not thinking only about yourself or only about others. We’re looking for a win-win. First you have to be honest with yourself about what YOU really want. Get clear.
The second requirement for getting out of the people-pleaser rat race is learning to say no. Before I tell you ways to say no, let’s start with when to say no:
- When saying yes would mean you would be resentful, angry and annoyed.
- When you have plans for yourself that are important to you and saying yes would mean cancelling your plans.
- When every fiber of your being is screaming, “NO!!!,” but your fear pulls you to say yes.
- When you’re being asked to do something that goes against your beliefs, integrity or sense of right and wrong.
- When you know in your heart the answer should be no.
Once you realize it would be beneficial to learn to say no in your life, below are several sample nos for you to try on. Good luck!
- I’m so sorry, but I have plans for today so I can’t help you
- I wish I could do that, however I’m booked for today.
- As much as I’m pulled to say yes, I really need some R&R today and promised myself I wouldn’t let anything get in the way of that.
- I can’t today, but would love to on another day—how about next week?
- I can’t get to that today, but could get it done next week.
There are tons of ways to say no without being mean, obnoxious or hurtful. Just remember to be kind to yourself and respectful to the other person when saying no…but do say it!
Challenge: Over the next several weeks, pay attention to all the times you say yes when you’d rather say no. Start to sprinkle some nos in on the smaller issues and see how it feels. Also, get clarity on what you want and start putting those items on your priority list and protect them with your “NO”.