how to say no

Learn To Say No! How People Pleasing Leads To Stress

Are you stressed out about an event that you agreed to go to even though you really didn’t want to? Or maybe you’ve got so much work piled on you at your job because you take on every task you’re asked to. These stressful situations happen every day, but the worst part is they’re self-inflicted most of the time. People pleasing is one of the most overlooked causes of stress, but it can be extremely difficult for some people to overcome. For people pleasers, learning to say no can get a lot of weight off your shoulders and free your mind of harmful stress.

Are you a People Pleaser?

We all know that one person who obsessing over making everyone happy. They never want to let you down, even if it means sacrificing their own happiness. Maybe you are that person in your life. Does this sound like you?

  • You constantly put other people’s needs before your own.
  • Your day is completely ruined if you don’t do something someone asked you to do.
  • People are constantly asking you for favors.
  • You always feel like a doormat.
  • You obsess over hurting others’ feelings.
  • You avoid confrontation like the plague.
  • You feel like a burden when you ask people for help.
  • You feel like other people are better than you.
  • You let other people take credit for your work.
  • You’re constantly apologizing for things.
  • You’re helpful and nice to people you don’t even like.
  • You attract people who are dependent on others.

If you resonate with a lot of these feelings/situation, it’s a strong sign that you’re a people pleaser. Being nice and genuinely likable is one thing. But people pleasers go beyond that and live their whole lives around serving the needs of others. And that’s a problem.

The Downside of Being a People Pleaser

On the surface being a people pleaser seems a lot like being a normal considerate person. However, it’s actually pretty harmful to yourself and your relationships.

Stress & Anxiety

Over-committing yourself to too many activities and tasks is going to stress you out. There are only 24 hours in a day. When you refuse to say no to anything, you’re eventually not going to have time for it all.

For a people pleaser, not being able to do everything you promised creates even more stress.

You’re neglecting yourself

One of the biggest issues of being a people pleaser is that you’re forced to neglect your own needs. You only have a certain amount of energy. When you’re expending it all on others, you don’t have any left to tend to yourself, leaving you physically and emotionally drained.

You’re not enjoying life

If you’re a people pleaser, you usually agree to go to places or do things because you were asked to, not because you want to. So your days are filled with moments you don’t enjoy. What’s even worse is you probably don’t even know what you do like to do because you’re always busy doing what everyone else wants to do.

You’ll resent other people

This is a two part issue. Since you’re always doing things for others, it’s extremely hurtful when they say no to you for a favor. Then, you’ll also start to resent people that constantly ask you to do things because you feel like they’re taking advantage of you. Since you hate confrontation, the resentment will just building up inside until you eventually can’t take it anymore and breakdown.

It’s Time To Let That Grudge Go

All of this can be cured with two simple letters, N-O. For some people, that seems obvious. But if you’re used to trying to please people, it’s not as simple.

How To Say No

The first thing you need to realize is that the world is not going to end if you say no. In fact, it’s almost easier for people pleasers to say no without any type of adverse reaction.

Since people are accustomed to you saying yes all the time, they don’t stress over the one time you say no. And the people that do probably aren’t the type of people you want in your life anyways. Here are some simple ways to say no without feeling guilty or coming off as rude.

Explain why

You don’t have to go into a long, detailed explanation of why you can’t do something, but giving a reason will help the other person have an understanding of where you’re coming from.

It could be something as simple as “Sorry, I’m really busy that day.” Again, don’t go into a rehearsed five minute speech about why you can’t pet-sit, just give a brief reasoning so it’s not awkward.

Say no quickly

How many times have you been asked to do something you know you don’t want to do, but you put off replying for days or weeks because you’re afraid of saying no?

The quicker you’re able to say no, the more time the other person has to find an alternative. For instance, if you get invited to go to a sporting event and you don’t want to go, letting the person know right away will give them a chance to find someone else to take your spot.

If you’re really not sure whether or not you’re able (or want) to do something, it’s acceptable to say “I’ll get back to you.” Just don’t keep them waiting too long, or you could end up putting them in a bad position.

Give an alternative

This is one of the best ways to say no without feeling horrible about yourself. It’s ideal for people pleasers. Instead of just saying no, give the person an alternative solution.

For instance, if you’ve been asked to cover a coworker’s shift and you really don’t want to do it, help them find someone else who might be willing to do it. It shows you genuinely care about helping, even if you can’t help directly.

You Can’t (and Shouldn’t) Please Everyone

Everyone wants to be liked and accepted. But if you feel like the only way to do it is by becoming a people pleaser or doormat, it’s a problem. Use the tips above to start saying no, and you’ll notice two things:

  1. You’re no longer stressed about the idea of having to say no.
  2. You’re no longer stressed about having a full plate because you’ve said yes to everyone.

The next time someone asks you to do something you really don’t want to do, just say no. We promise, it won’t be the end of the world.

More stress management techniques.