If you’re a people-pleaser or you’ve grown up in a home with an alcoholic or codependent parent or spouse, you’re probably an expert at giving to others. You give and give, trying to make things better by contributing - especially in romantic relationships. But you don’t ask for much in return.
Maybe it’s because you’re not so good at identifying and communicating what you need from others. Maybe you think you don’t deserve to receive. Perhaps you've asked for help, but when people didn’t reciprocate, you surrendered in frustration and continued to do it all yourself. Exhausting!
Maybe you woke up one day to the realization that you’d given up important bits of yourself in the relationship. You became resentful. When your partner failed to meet your needs, your resentment grew. Perhaps you assumed he didn't care enough about you to give back. You felt trapped in that bad relationship. You felt unvalued and undesired.
My marriage was like that. Before my divorce, some of my friendships were like that, too. If you recognize yourself as a people-pleaser, I can help. As a certified reformed people-pleaser (I made that term up), I’ll share what I did to go from people-pleaser to living my best life and attracting my best relationships.
The People-Pleaser Cure
Stop pretending to be someone you’re not. When you make your needs less important and only attend to others, you lose yourself. The antidote is to turn your needs way up. You need to put yourself on the top of your to-do list. You matter! If you don’t take care of yourself, no one will respect you.
1. Stop neglecting your basic needs. Are you eating healthy food and getting exercise on a regular basis? Are you fulfilling your intellectual and emotional needs? Are you making time for activities that light you up? Are you getting enough sleep? Figure out what needs you’ve been neglecting and make a list. Post it on the bathroom mirror, above your desk, or on your computer. Your needs matter. You want to remember that every day.
2. Work on attending to one need a week. Take baby steps towards self-fulfillment. Catch up on your sleep. Read that exciting new book. Go out with friends. Do whatever it is that you’ve been neglecting. But don’t try to change everything at once or you’ll burn out. One need a week should do the trick.
3. Stop saying yes just to be nice. When someone asks you for a favor, follow the 24-hour rule. Tell them, “Let me think about that. I’ll get back to you tomorrow.” This will help you process the request and tune into your intuition. Do you really want to do what was asked of you, or do you feel obligated? Make a choice that pleases you. Ask yourself, ‘will I feel drained or energized if I do this?’ Only do what makes you feel energized.
4. Get some standards. If you want others to treat you well, you’ll need to figure out what that looks like for you. Maybe you’re tired of people expecting you to volunteer for everything. Maybe you tolerated people speaking down to you. Instead of letting them know it hurt your feelings, you kept it inside. Maybe you’re busy taking care of your kids/parents/friends, going above and beyond at the expense of neglecting your own needs. Learn to say no (see #2). Learn to say, "Don't talk to me that way." You will slowly model how you want others to treat you and garner more respect.
Once you’ve developed a pretty good self-care ritual, you’ll be ready to go seek out a man who is aligned with your needs. You’ll know how to recognize that man at the start of a relationship, not 6 months or 6 years in. He’ll treat you with the respect you deserve. He’ll cherish you because you love yourself first.
You deserve a relationship with give and take. It’s one of the cornerstones of a healthy relationship. When you’re in an equitable relationship with that special man, you will feel amazing. And he will be so grateful to have earned the love of such an incredible woman.
Are you a current or reformed people-pleaser? Please share your comments below. Join in the conversation. I care about what you have to say.
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