Masterful Mindsets ~ Cure the Disease to Please

“I can’t tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”  – Ed Sheeran


Do you find yourself doing everything for others at the expense of yourself? Do you see self-care as selfish? Do you have a difficult time saying no to other people’s demands or requests? Do you suffer from the disease to please?

Action Challenge: 

I work with several clients who admittedly know that they are people pleasers. It’s part of what gets them trapped into what I like to call, “Superwoman Syndrome”. (Note: Not all who suffer from Superwoman Syndrome are People Pleasers but all People Pleasers also suffer from Superwoman Syndrome).

Anyway, I was doing a little research on this topic recently and ran across a book called, The Disease To Please: Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome by Harriet B. Braiker, Ph.D  As I was flipping through it, the first thing that caught my eye was a list the author refers to as The Ten Commandments of People-Pleasing. So before I give you this week’s action challenge… read each commandment below and rank yourself on a scale of 1-10 to see where you stand.

The Ten Commandments of People-Pleasing:

  1. I should always do what others want, expect, or need from me.
  2. I should take care of everyone around me whether they ask for help or not.
  3. I should always listen to everyone’s problems and try my best to solve them.
  4. I should always be nice and never hurt anyone’s feelings.
  5. I should always put other people first, before me.
  6. I should never say “no” to anyone who needs or requests something of me.
  7. I should never disappoint anyone or let others down in any way.
  8. I should always be happy and upbeat and never show any negative feelings to others.
  9. I should always try to please other people and make them happy.
  10. I should try never to burden others with my own needs or problems.

Can you relate to most or all of the above? If so, then congratulations (not) you are most likely a full-fledged people-pleaser and you need help.

Seriously, constantly ‘shoulding on yourself’ is toxic. It will eat you alive inside. And always serving others at the expense of yourself will eventually take its toll on your wellbeing.

I want you to hear this…

It’s time for you to value yourself, your needs and who you are. You don’t have to “buy” peoples love and affection. – And yes, time is a currency in many respects. So if you are always doing things for others, to please them, you are in essence, buying their love.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying not to be nice. But it is okay to say no and it is even okay not to be nice sometimes. (In the book, there’s an entire chapter titled, “It’s Okay Not to Be Nice”.) And guess what? You may think that by doing all this, you are making other people happy, but what you’re actually doing is making yourself feel miserable and inadequate. In fact, while people pleasers are always aspiring to be as “nice” as they can be, they fail miserably when it comes to being nice to themselves.

Plus, the habit of people-pleasing doesn’t necessarily make others think you’re a nice person anyway. In fact, being around someone who is always putting others’ needs before their own can actually be a huge turnoff. So even if you overextend yourself to make other people comfortable and you are as nice as you can be, they may actually be annoyed or irritated by your actions and end up NOT liking you – the exact opposite effect of what you were initially striving for by being so freakin’ nice in the first place!

My challenge for you is to begin to break free of the disease to please by starting with the commandment above that you scored the highest in. (If you had several, then pick the one that you feel negatively affects you the most.) And make a solid commitment (a new commandment, if you will) to find a better balance. Awareness of when you do it is the first step. Just observe when it comes up most for you. What triggers you? What are you feeling? What is your automatic reaction?

Then decide how you can take a step in the opposite direction. For example, say you have a difficult time saying no to any request made of you. (You know – PTA bake sales, last minute projects at work, babysitting for a friend, etc.) Shift your response to those requests to a new answer that is more balanced and feels comfortable for you until you do feel strong enough to say NO. So instead of saying yes to everything, which will exhaust you, or no, which is difficult for you, say something like, “I would be happy to help you if I can, let me check my schedule and get back to you.” (This gives you some buffer time so you don’t blurt out a yes right away.) Or even better, “I would be happy to help you; however, I am going to have to pass on this one.” And if you must… “I would be happy to help you; however, all I can commit to right now is x,y,z.” (and state your variation of what you actually have the bandwidth to do). NOTE: This last one is tricky and I don’t recommend it for beginners because it’s too easy to make x,y and z more work than the original request since you will want to please. Whatever variation you choose, speak kindly but confidently. It is okay to honor yourself.

Now it’s your turn… It’s time to say no to people pleasing. If you need help, I’m here to support you. Feel free to schedule a Discover Session and let’s get started curing your disease to please.

***I want to hear from you… Share your comments below.