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All the recovered people-pleasers out their..any tips?

(67 Posts)
karelomen Mon 17-Sep-12 18:05:29

I have recently been working on not being so concerned about what people think of me and trying to be more true to my own needs and wishes rather than bend over backwards for those of others, (usually to the point of being unhappy), its such an undesirable aspect to my personality because I only do it to make people like me.
Ive started by being more assertive and Im getting great results from my employer and DP.
Has anyone got any experience of ridding this behaviour from their lives?

janelikesjam Mon 17-Sep-12 18:26:57

Glad you are making progress on this, I think its very important to confront this, especially women who tend to be more PP (is that a new acronym for MM? wink.

I really recommending doing an Assertiveness course (or two), it can really open your eyes and take you to the next level....

TheArmadillo Mon 17-Sep-12 18:33:22

for me it was learning that people really aren't thinking about you - they are thinking about what they are having for tea, how their hair looks, the conversation they had with their partner this morning, whether they should phone their mum to see if she's feeling better, how they should word this document etc etc etc. You don't really figure in their thinking much if at all. Once I got the hang of that it became much easier.

Also how much people prefer clear unambiguous interaction. Half the time they don't care whether you want option a or b as long as you get the point quickly, easily and can move on. Faffing and indecisiveness is what drives people mad.

And on that point - most questions don't have a right or wrong answer just options, and all people want is for you to pick one. The only important thing is that you settle on an answer not what that answer is.

Essentially once I understood that by trying so hard trying to please everyone and tying myself in knots I was actually pissing them off more as they never knew where they stood or what I really thought or wanted.

spookytoo Mon 17-Sep-12 18:57:27

If you want to stop concentrating on what everyone else thinks you have to replace that with what YOU think. So find some interests or aims or pleasures which you want out of life and if you can concentrate on them you should make yourself happier and not have time for thoughts worrying about what others are thinking.

(not that that comes easily)

Sunnywithachanceofshowers Mon 17-Sep-12 21:37:25

I read a great book about people pleasing - I can't remember the title. But the one sentence that has helped me hugely is 'step over the bleeding bodies of your family'.

Since then I've learned to say no to my mum, and am learning to deal with my dad. It's great smile

I'm not 100% free of the tendency to make everyone happy, but I think it's like flexing a muscle - the more I used it, the stronger it becomes.

Good luck smile

joblot Mon 17-Sep-12 21:49:29

I had cbt and the unhelpful thoughts log plus core beliefs worksheets were invaluable. It's a bloody long slog tho, I still do it (pping) but I can see it'll takes years to completely overcome. Can't post links at moment but if you pm me I'll get back to you in next few days if that would help

izzyizin Mon 17-Sep-12 22:00:04

Unless it's necessary to express your condolences, banish the word 'sorry' from your vocabulary and severely restrict your use of the word 'but' when asked to do something you don't want to do or shouldn't have to do.

joblot Mon 17-Sep-12 22:47:57

My life is one big long sorry. Food for thought thanks izzy

Heleninahandcart Mon 17-Sep-12 23:26:42

Practice "that doesn't work for me". Say it out loud, say it in the mirror, imagine yourself in various scenarios and visualise yourself saying it. It works for so many situations.

LizLemon007 Mon 17-Sep-12 23:46:25

that would work really well when somebody is tryign to talk you in to something!

have you a good phrase for if you're mother is trying to talk you out of something? my mother so cautious on my behalf. drives me crazy. i find myself defending all my decisions to her. like i need her approval. i am a people pleaser, but she thinks i have a temper because i get angry with her when she doesn't approve of my choices. she thinks i'm awkward/making a point. you know how it is.........

CailinDana Mon 17-Sep-12 23:50:01

What The Armadillo said, basically. Plus it helps to remember that people aren't really pleased by "people pleasers." They are usually irritated by them. By not standing up for yourself and not making decisions you are inadvertently making other people responsible for your happiness and that really isn't fair to them. If I ask a friend for a favour and I know for sure that she will only agree to do it if she really can, then I don't have to worry, I don't have to second guess and I don't have to be afraid that I'm upsetting her.

I have one friend who is a chronic people pleaser and I've gotten to the point where I just can't be bothered with the friendship anymore because it feels like having a relationship with a pet. She is so eager to please and so "no whatever you want" that it's like she doesn't exist and I'm struggling to see the point in being her friend any more. She really is a lovely person deep down but I feel that if, after all these years (we've been friends for nearly 15 years) she can't trust me enough to feel she can put her foot down about something without me being offended then what's the point?

The people I really like and get on with are the people who'll listen to my suggestion for dinner and say "Nah, but what about this?" and to whom I can say "Nah but what about this?" back until we make a decision we're both genuinely happy with. I also admire a person who'll ring me and say "Look I wasn't happy about what you said/did," and have a calm conversation about it without backing down. To me, that says my friendship is worth enough to them for them to stick their neck out and take a risk by bringing up something negative in the hopes that it'll make things better. A person who is constantly "I don't mind, no really it's ok" is a non-person - in the end you just don't have a clue what their true opinions are and you do start to wonder if they have any opinions at all.

CailinDana Mon 17-Sep-12 23:51:34

Liz my mother is like that with my younger sister so I've told my sister that from now on unless she really wants my mother's input (unlikely), she just needs to stop telling her things, or if she does tell her, she has to present it as a done deal rather than as something she's just thinking about. Leave no room for debate.

garlicnutty Mon 17-Sep-12 23:53:01

Well, you're looking for her approval aren't you? Even though you know she can't give it. So stop trying to force/manipulate her. Respect her view, leave it at that. She'll support you if it goes tits-up anyway.

Or, if she doesn't, she's not the sort of person whose opinion matters to you!

garlicnutty Mon 17-Sep-12 23:54:50

I think weddings are a good test of this. Every bride has to learn to say "Lovely idea, though not right for MY day" often, and with a steely stare wink

garlicnutty Mon 17-Sep-12 23:56:26

I want ... is a phrase too little used by us people pleasers. Most of us were actually taught not to say what we wanted!!!

Practise. It's fun smile

karelomen Tue 18-Sep-12 07:29:12

Watch out world today!! Thanks so much I knew there'd be some recovered PP's on MN! wink Must teach future daughter My dad bought me up on his own and there was so much emphasis on me being a good girl even when I was in my early twenties, hell, even now! Always to be Pollyanna about everything.

Im so glad to be shedding this itchy skin grin
It would be hilarious if I took this advice and went around out of context saying to people, "that doesn't work for me" when they offer me a cup of tea or something!

I really appreciate all of your insight I find that all my relationship's become unmanageable because I don't put down boundaries, its like people are never allowed to see my edges and I end up contorting myself into such awkward positions that I either hide from them or cut the relationship off inexplicable, it as such a false economy people pleasing because it really annoys people. I appreciate, 'call a spade a spade people', so I need to be one myself.

I'm just starting uni and there's loads of team work so I want to hone these skills so I have mutually nourishing friendships

karelomen Tue 18-Sep-12 07:30:07


CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 18-Sep-12 08:20:56

My mantra is not so much 'that doesn't work for me'.... although it's a useful retort when put on the spot for an answer. Mine is more 'I'm not happy with this'.... opening gambit. I find answering no is relatively easy whereas initiating a complaint, ruffling feathers and risking disapproval from a standing start much more buttock-clenching for a former people-pleaser. The 'I'm not happy with this' test is also a good way to become more conscious of your tolerance levels & set out boundaries in advance. When others cross the line, you pull them up unilaterally... you don't wait for a prompt.

It's the difference between waiting for someone to ask 'is your steak done to your liking?' before sending it back, and calling the waiter over to tell them it's burnt.

123tragic Tue 18-Sep-12 10:31:08

Very interesting thread which has got me thinking! Gave me a few light bulb moments about my own pp ways...
Something my friend was told on an assertiveness course was: "It's okay to know what your needs are" (we used to add "...and to have them met" grin)

Heleninahandcart Tue 18-Sep-12 11:53:37

Liz You do not have to ask her what she thinks. There is also no rule that says you have to get her approval or even 'share' anything with her. If you do come up against it, how about a reverse of Cogito's suggestion, "I'm happy with it", repeat, neutal expression, repeat, the back off stare, repeat.

If it is said purely out of concern, maybe acknowledge her views with "I get what you are saying, I'm happy with it". Repeat.

If you think it is about her need to play a role in your decisions, you may be able to defuse her by adding "you know I'll always come to you if I have a problem with something" which may go against the grain but she may be reassured by that and back off anyway. If not, revert to the first suggestion above.

LizLemon007 Tue 18-Sep-12 19:47:58

CailinDana, I'm learning not to run everything past her. I used to do that all the time 'i'm thinking of.......... starting this course/buying a car/moving flat' and she says 'no I don't think so' to me like it's her decision. And then we get in to this court case where I try to change her MIND and make her SEE that what I want to do is not a foolish decision.

But I get it now, all i've been doing all these years is feeding her belief that she has massive say in everything I do.

From now on I'm just going to do what I do, buy what I buy and never ASK her for her opinion, unless like you say, there might be that rare occasion where I would value her opinion.

Heleninahandcart, that's a useful one as well and it would diffuse the situation. my mother gets very cross if she thinks i'm being cheeky (i'm 42). so if I put my head to one side and say calmly (adn that's key!) "i get what you're saying but I'm happy to spend the money/take the risk".

changing these patterns after 30 odd years of pleasing my mother, it's hard! i wasn't even a rebellious teenager. and the irony is, my mother believes i'm awkward.

LovesPeace Tue 18-Sep-12 19:56:43

I think I fall into this category, to some extent (people pleasing).

My mother was exactly like yours above, and I just tell her what I'm doing, rather than ask - and when she disagrees say 'Ah, well, I'll live and learn' or somesuch. Stops her dead.

Now I just need to do the same to men.

Recently, I've found myself responding to guys' e-mails even though I secretly think they're tossers, because I don't want to upset them/be rude.

The end result is that when they stop e-mailing first (obviously because I'd keep going til death under my 'it's rude not to reply' rule) I then get really pissed off/ feel rejected by them.

I need to stop replying when they are tossers rather than worrying about their delicate little psyches, don't I?

I always feel as if I'm seeking validation from other people - rationally I know I'm a nice person, but I feel as if I'm never quite good enough no matter how hard I try. sad

Any cures? Apart from kicking myself? I'm not long out of a long term emotionally abusive relationship (which followed on nicely from my emotionally and physically abusive mother) so maybe that's why. sad

LizLemon007 Tue 18-Sep-12 20:03:16

Yeah this is me too! i've read 'he's just not that into you' and even though bits of it were nonsense, generally it's a good approach. I need to read BITCHES or whatever it's called. It's not about being a bitch, just about being in control of what you want... i think! my x was AWFUL, so never again. ONLY nice men from now on. But you can't just cut your mother off stone dead can you!! that one is a trickier navigation altogether.

With my mum, i seem to remember reading articles in cosmo when i was about 23 telling you how to deal with your mother like an adult and gain her respect. My mother was slightly sneering of that - mocking me slightly. She was thrown off guard by my being mature and she mocked me. I should have stuck with it though instead of reverting to people-pleasing mode.

LizLemon007 Tue 18-Sep-12 20:04:34

Lovespeace, until i had some psychotherapy sessions last year, i never made the connection between my domineering mother and my willingness to please her and the abusive relationship I ended up in. but ding dong!!!!

LovesPeace Tue 18-Sep-12 21:51:25

I feel pleased that I've managed to make that connection by myself then. Trouble is, the worse they are to me, the harder I try to please them. The rational me is shouting 'WTF are you doing?' but I'm still compelled.
This is further exacerbated by the fact that in the few months I've been single, I've been inundated with men who initially seem nice, but are as mad as crates packed full of frogs on closer inspection, and not very pleasant with it.
Where am I going wrong to only get these tossers?

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