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People Pleasing


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I don't know just how to break the pattern.


I'm just jumping in. My daughter and I were just having a conversation, and I called myself 'perfect'. She then said

yes mother, you are perfect and wonderful
I said to her
I know I'm not perfect, but you added wonderful
. and we laughed. She then told me that I may not be perfect, but that I was wonderful; and we laughed again.


Practice does make perfect,
to answer your question about how. Practice saying NO, and continue saying NO, as practice to someone, and eventually you will be able to say

Good luck --:)

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I've been a people pleaser too, wanted to be loved ...;) I think it's a matter of hearing what your own needs are and giving them as much weight as everyone elses. Now I pause before I offer or accept to do something, and I try to listen to what I want. If I want to do it, I do, if I don't, then I don't.

I've found that saying no or I can't gets easier with time. Reality is that people expect us to say no once in awhile, like everybody does. It acknowledges that we are important too and people get that. Then as we live it we start realizing that people don't stop liking us or won't abandon you, and it gets easier still. If some people are taking advantage of you, they probably won't like it at first, but they'll get used to it or will move on, which is probably not a bad thing :)

Give it a try and adjust your strategy as you see how people react... Often time it's in the delivery, considerate but firm. Good luck :-)

Edited by Symora
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My therapist taught me to say: "Can I get back to you on that one? I need to check something first."

Gives me time to regroup instead of hearing myself say 'yes', when every fibre is screaming 'NOOO'. Then I phone back and say "Sorry, I already have a commitment then" or something similarly vague.

White lies were made for this ;)

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I know what you mean, when we care we want to be there for others. How about saying things like 'I really wish I could be there for you but I'm going through my own stuff right now and I can't deal', or 'I care so much for you, I wish I could help you but right now I'm feeling overwhelmed and don't have much to offer'.

I went through something like that in the fall with my oldest daughter. She married and immigrated to England 3 years ago and has had a very difficult time getting a job. It has made her insecure and depressed at times. In the fall she would call often and pour out her difficulties. I had become her crutch in a way, where she would find her energy to go on. I was going through major depression at the time and at one point I just could not deal with my own issues and hers as well. So I told her I loved her, but that I was going through my own stuff and felt, sadly, that I just could not be her rock at that point. I also told her that I was perhaps interfering with her turning to her husband for the support she needed. It hurt her, I could feel it in her voice and how she hardly called for weeks after that. But I held my ground notwithstanding my guilt because I knew how depleated I was and I had to detach a little if I was going to heal myself.

You know what, on the long run it has been very good for both of us. She did turn to her husband and it strengthened their relationship I think. I don't worry so much about her because I get some repreve from her problems, and when she calls I think she tries to be a little more positive because she does not want to add to my burden.

I think that because we have known suffering to such a dept, we can't stand to let others suffer if we can be of assistance. But sometimes I think we may actually interfere with letting the other people learn from their own suffering. We can hear them, encourage them, but it is their life's lesson and we have to let them find their own resources so that they can make their own life better.... does that make sense?

Edited by Symora
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Yes, I think you really have to meet your own needs before you can truly offer yourself to others. I even feel this at times with my children. If I've worked a 10 hour day, I need to rest and relax for a while before I am able to spend any meaningful kind of time with them. If I try anyway, I'm likely irritable and less involved than I should be...and that doesn't benefit anyone.

I understand where you're coming from, John. I've felt it too. The guilt, for me, isn't so much about not taking care of others, but in having a desire to take care of myself first...which feels selfish. And I believe this stems from feelings of low self-worth. (I couldn't possibly be as important as others.) But, in the long run, taking care of yourself and saying no sometimes benefits everyone involved. The trick is giving yourself the permission to do it. It's okay to take care of yourself first. It's okay to say no to others .

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Hi Jetliner,

I can relate to your problem. I have had to work to overcome my perfectionist traits, as well in my study as in daily, social life. It hurts, because it's giving up formerly claimed "territory", but it has to be done if you want to reach that level of functionality you observe in others.

One thing that works for me that I haven't seen mentioned in this thread, is channeling the people pleasing. Some time ago I took up electronic music as a hobby. It's a wonderful feeling to be the one to give people the music they desire, it can compensate for a lot of personal misery. And in art you're kinda supposed to be that nutty perfectionist who works his ass off to deliver people that one tiny moment of bliss, so it's a perfect fit really.

Just trying to remind you that it doesn't necessarily have to be yourself who has to change. Sometimes you can try to surround yourself with an environment in which your drawbacks magically turn to advantages. :rolleyes:

Much love,


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