3 Questions to Ask Yourself if You Struggle with People-Pleasing

Alright, LFT family. I’m still on a journey of discovering why I’m such a people-pleaser, and I’ve made a lot of progress since my last blog about it a couple of months ago. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a work in progress in my attempts to choose myself over others, but I’ve learned so much about myself lately. Let me start by telling you a story. Someone that I used to know over 20 years ago reached out to vent to me about her problems, and I just couldn’t bring myself to be there for her the way she wanted me to be. I just worked overtime at my job, I was super hangry because I worked through lunch, and I felt like I could barely sustain my own emotions — how could I help someone else in this state? The most I could do was provide resources for her, but I felt so guilty that I didn’t get on the phone and listen to her problems. I beat myself up about it for weeks, and my therapist and I thoroughly interrogated the reason behind my guilt. She asked me three questions that led me on the quest to get the answers I was looking for.

1. Do you value yourself enough?

My therapist asked me this question without beating around the bush, and I’m really glad she did because I’ve never admitted this to anyone before. I don’t value myself enough, and here’s why. If I viewed my time, needs, and wants as something just as important as someone else’s, it wouldn’t be so hard to choose myself. In the situation I mentioned earlier, I knew how tired I was, but I viewed that person’s needs and desires as more important than my own. Even though I ended up choosing myself, I hated my decision. I felt like a selfish and horrible person, even though I know that I wouldn’t be any good to her in the condition I was in.

Once I start viewing my desires as equal to those around me, I can fairly assess whose needs should be met at that moment without guilt. Now the question is, how do I do this? Staring in the mirror and telling myself, “You are enough” just doesn’t work like people think it does. If you’ve tried this before and it didn’t work or read my blog post from last month about this, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. It feels like you’re a fraud because while you may be saying something aloud, you don’t actually believe it inside. I plan on exploring this more in therapy, but I thought it was interesting that my therapist asked me this question.

2. Are you giving yourself enough grace?

After a long day of work full of meetings and interacting with people, which for an introvert like me is very exhausting, the only thing I want to do is go home and stay to myself. Naturally, the last thing I want to do is listen to someone else’s problems when I should be decompressing and destressing. Instead, I either suck it up and be there for them or choose to decompress like I planned and feel guilty for doing it.

I know that in those moments when I choose myself, I have to give myself grace and allow myself to say, “No” because it’s what I need. Of course, the theme for the day is how? I’m still working on this as well, but I think the key to extending yourself grace is to look for the positives in your decision. For example, I did not talk on the phone with the person who reached out to me for help because I just didn’t have the physical or mental energy to do it after an exhausting day. Instead, I texted her to let her know that I couldn’t talk and pointed her to some resources that she can rely on if she was interested. The bright side of this is that even though I may not have helped her in the way she wanted, I was still able to help her in a way that felt comfortable and manageable for me. I didn’t feel overextended and she was still supported in her time of need. Why should I feel guilty about that?

3. Do you care what other people think of you?

Before you get defensive on me, hear me out! This was probably the hardest question for me to answer because I naturally want to say that I don’t care what other people think of me. However, that’s not entirely true. My hesitance to say “No” to people comes from what they’ll think of me if I do say it. I worry that they’ll think I’m useless to them or not as valuable. I worry that they’ll think I’m a horrible person if I don’t do what they want. There’s a painfully obvious pattern here that I struggle with value and self-worth.

I was never the type to care if people thought I was weird or give a second thought to someone saying I was different. However, I’m realizing that I am the type to want people to deem me as a good, reliable, and trustworthy person. You always hear the saying, “The only thing people care about is what you can do for them.” Well, I think I took that to heart. In my mind, people will think that I’m a good, reliable, and trustworthy person if I bend over backward for them. I don’t have a clue where to start with unraveling these thoughts and finding a solution, but asking myself if I truly cared what other people thought of me was the most eye-opening question I could’ve asked.

Final Thoughts

People-pleasing is something that a lot of us struggle with, and it was an identity that I adopted at the expense of my mental well-being. Yes, I do want people to think I’m reliable and great, but I can’t keep letting myself be poisoned with unnecessary guilt when I can’t be there for someone. I can’t keep placing my wants and needs towards the back to make room for someone else’s instead. Now, I’m not one for resolutions for the new year, but I love reflecting on things that I want to change. As I mentioned in my vision board, I want to start asking myself, “What does Jasmine want?” or “What makes Jasmine happy?” and acting on that without hesitation or guilt. I have a ton of work to do on myself, and of course, I’m bringing you all along for the journey, but I can’t wait to see how much I’ve grown and who I will become by the end of the year.

“People-pleasing is rooted in fear and is focused on earning love. Genuine love casts out fear.” — Unknown

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