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How to get over being a people pleaser?

(17 Posts)
Emptychairs Mon 19-Aug-13 18:13:20

Hello, have nc for this...
Have read a great deal of literature on how to be confident, nurture self esteem etc. also aware that ea dad made me work hard for his attention and controlling mum made me doubt my judgment.
In my second marriage (dh1 was simply horrid, so obviously like my dad I had no trouble divorcing him) and now realize I'm enabling dh2 to use me as he sees fit. We are attending couple counseling, are getting great advice (she basically telling dh to stop being an arse!) and dh is making a real effort, just confused because I'm no longer the idiot he married...
I know I'm a pushover and really want to be recognized as an equal, what can I do, what can I say to myself to help things along. I don't want to rely on my dh to change, I want to change myself, my attitude to myself.
Thanks, xx

Fraxinus Mon 19-Aug-13 20:56:03

Perhaps you need a vehicle in which to practise.... So starting a new course in something that interests you, and making sure you practise being assertive during the training, and assertively making time for the course and any necessary practise or homework.. For example. Then once you are being different in one area of your life, people will see you differently and might make space for you to be different in other areas of your life.

MadBusLady Mon 19-Aug-13 21:25:23

Hm, I have two possible answers!

On the one hand, I think being more confident has to be very practical. What are the sorts of typical scenarios in which you usually end up being a pushover? Can you identify the point at which you give in, or say yes when you want to say no, and practice stopping and thinking things through at those points? You may find it helps to envisage a more confident friend who puts a high value on themselves and think "What would x say to this request?" Motivational literature is great and can get you a long way, but I do think this is one area where an ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory.

On the other hand, if your DH is actually just a selfish arse then frankly that IS his problem to fix. It's not even meaningful to say that you're "enabling" him to be an arse. He just shouldn't be one. It shouldn't be your job to stop him, or behave more assertively so that he can't get away with it as easily. Thinking that it IS your job and your responsibility to be different when he's the one being an arse is in itself a people-pleasing approach.

Fraxinus Mon 19-Aug-13 23:53:02

Yes, mad bus lady, you are right, if empty chairs dh is being an arse, he does need to change.

Emptychairs Tue 20-Aug-13 08:10:21

Thanks for your replies.
Fraxinus, I've done just that, I've taken up driving again and its been a real eye opener. It's made me see just what a shrinking violet I am and I hate it, on the other hand its still very difficult to be assertive. But ill have to take it one step at a time.
Madbuslady, its easy to imagine any number of people I know acting with confidence and common sense. I see it and know it applies to me too, but its like there is an invisible threshold I can't cross!
When do I become a pushover? It's more like when do I act sanely? I've tried in the past at work and had some good results there, I was surprised how well I managed some situations and was v pleased with myself.
Also driving has made me proud of myself. I've also recently joined a gym and am making great progress.
It's true though that the way dh acts often undermines my confidence. I'm only staying atm because he has agreed to work on himself and with the combined efforts of counselor setting him straight and my now relentless "me" campaign I hope that it will work out.
It has been quite difficult naming the actual abusive behaviour as dh helps with housework, etc. But I've always noticed a shift in his behaviour every time he's wanted something (from sex, video gaming, watching porn to securing special privileges for dsc) and I dont immediately comply. I am "frozen out" with a look and a comment on my selfishness. Up to now I believed him and would always give in, regardless how disappointed I was. Now I don't, but instead of just feeling empowered I'm angry at myself for being stupid.
Thanks again for your support. It's so great being heard thanks

Fairyloo Tue 20-Aug-13 08:13:25

Have you tried coda??

Emptychairs Tue 20-Aug-13 11:20:44

What is coda?

Fraxinus Wed 21-Aug-13 16:43:11

Driving sounds like a really good forum to be assertive in! Good choice! Keep doing what you are doing, it sounds like you are on a journey.

Are there any development opportunities at work?

Emptychairs Thu 22-Aug-13 10:20:28

Have already been "promoted"... Not really a competitive line of work but works for me.
Re the driving, in theory its great, but once I get over the rush of having done something well I withdraw into my shell again. It's a bit like living with micro panic attacks. I used to have nightmares about flying off uncontrollably and not knowing how or where I'd land. Really scary.
I'm wondering now if I'm suffering some kind of stress related trauma? I function well really in rl and nobody, only those close to me detect underlying nervousness and sometimes anxiety. Probably from childhood... Does anyone have any idea whom to approach re therapy? Is there therapy for this even? Thanks xx

Fraxinus Thu 22-Aug-13 11:24:43

You are already having couples counselling, so I would arrange an additional appointment with this counsellor, alone, so that she can advise you on what counselling options are available to you.

Fraxinus Thu 22-Aug-13 11:25:53

She knows you already, so you won't have to explain so much of your issues to her as if you approached your gp, who can also refer you for counselling.

Emptychairs Thu 22-Aug-13 14:12:04

Thanks Fraxinus,
Of course that makes sense, I don't know why I get so worked up sometimes.
Have just done a spot of weeding, its v satisfying to see immediate results! I suppose I need to be a bit patient with myself also...
Thanks again!

PostBellumBugsy Thu 22-Aug-13 14:22:22

Emptychairs - I sympathise. I am a pleaser. I have managed to become less so at work but find it easier when the relationships are professional.

However, in my personal relationships I really struggle. I know exactly why I am like I am (very dysfunctional childhood) & I know how hard it is to change these hard wired patterns. I find that stalling can often be a good tactic. So, instead of giving an instant response to something, I'll stall & then I can come back to it when I am feeling more able to say what I might really think.

I've had counselling, which was very good at helping me understand why I am the way I am - what it was less helpful with - was helping me to be more assertive.

Another thing, I have found that helps is to really think of things I want to do. If I am filling my life with things that are important to me and keep me busy, then I am less easily manipulated by other people's fuckwittery.

I feel like I am a work in progress and shall be watching this thread in the hope of more useful tips.

Emptychairs Fri 23-Aug-13 12:59:24

Hi Bugsy,
Nice to hear from you and your background.
I too had therapy a few years back explaining my behaviour.
Thanks for the stalling advice, that is a good and doable idea. Plus it makes people think more about what they'd be asking of you.
I've also been told that repeating what someone has said to you, asked of you is also a way of making sure you have understood them correctly. I just tend to react emotionally and forget to switch on brain and actually consider logically what is being asked of me.

garlicagain Fri 23-Aug-13 15:52:16

Good to hear you have a clued-up couples counsellor, Empty! I second turning to her for advice on further resources.

Have you ever done an assertiveness course? Books & CDs are really helpful, especially for fine-tuning, ime, but group courses are valuable for two reasons - one: you get insights into how other people think & feel; two: you get to practise on each other, with feedback & second chances.

You might like this.

Emptychairs Sun 25-Aug-13 22:10:05

Garlic, thanks so much for this link. Have just now been able to read it and its really helpful. Will practice this and see what happens.

garlicagain Sun 25-Aug-13 22:51:38

smile Hurrah. It's the best primer I've seen. Enjoy your practise!

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