Feeling like people would like me less, judge me more or just plain stop being my friend, colleague or mentor if I didn’t fit into their plans has been a staple sentiment of mine for years.
I can tell you this, it’s a bitter pill to swallow when that is tied into your self worth. Good old Amy, she will always say yes.
Pleasing people is not the enemy here
I never thought it was wrong to try to please all of the people around me. Friends, family, bosses, clients – I want them all to be happy, satisfied with what I do and who I am and I don’t believe that there is fundamentally anything wrong with that.
The way I did it and the justification I gave myself was a little off though and ultimately I just felt a little off kilter in myself…all the bloody time.
The tension I felt when the orbit of several controlling forces in my universe collided and I had to pick and choose was sickening. Literally – I would get a migraine and I would vomit, ultimately unable to please anyone, least of all me who was actually suffering.
It has to change to be better, I had to change
After years of spreading myself too thin, I was physically run down, mentally run down and I had gotten to the point where (and I say this with every ounce of honesty possible) I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I was skint, I was exhausted and I was overwhelmed. My days were spent full of anxiety and a furrowed brow and I had lost the joy in just plain living.
I didn’t actually realise what a powerful change I was making at first. I thought it was wanderlust, work boredom, career burnout or some such and so over a 2 year period I resigned from 2 jobs that consumed so much of me I wasn’t sure what was left (I loved both of these jobs I just acknowledge that I changed and needed to leave for my own health)
I became a freelancer and definitely started to say no more.
Instead I focused on doing a good job well, on being honest about my time constraints, financial constraints and my own needs.
Did it all cause misery and tension?
No. In fact it has mostly gone unnoticed by other people.
I have spent the last 2 years in particular choosing wisely how I spend my time. I meet with my friends once a month for dinner but we take it in turns to cook what we call kids dinner (usually oven pizza, smiley faces and beans) we wear comfies and laugh and chat for a couple of hours. Sometimes we will go out if its a birthday but mostly what we want is time together we are all in different places financially and romantically and living wise so when we were finally honest we all realised this works better for us.
I have said no to speaking to people in the street who want ‘a few minutes of my time’ I have said no to big gift giving, I have said I don’t fancy the cinema or can’t afford that weekend away and you know what, every single time it has been met with a ‘no worries’ attitude.
It’s not always easy, I found myself inviting people to dinner when I knew I wasn’t really up to it and I have committed myself to spending time with a friend whom I love but feel we have grown apart. Just like you, sometimes I still don’t know how to navigate it.
If you are a people pleaser just like me then I challenge you to count to 5 before you agree to anything. If whilst counting you realise that you are not required to do it and in fact don’t really want to I challenge you to say no. If you’re not comfortable to just say no right now then say, “I’m not certain I can – I will get back to you later today once I’ve double checked.”
I’ve had some huge moments of awesome through being more honest with myself in this area. I can help you too.
Working with a mentor can really help improve the quality of your relationships personally AND professionally. I know that I have better quality of time, I am less ill and I have loads more fun. I earn more, rest more and play more. What is not to love about that!
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Catch you later, Amy x