People Pleasing & Healthy Boundaries

QUESTION

I have what Oprah calls the need to please, why do I always say ‘yes’ whenever someone asks me to do something? I just volunteered to drive my daughter and some kids around Saturday morning for a bottle drive to raise money for a school trip. I have a hundred other things to do on Saturday why didn’t I just say that I was too busy?

ANSWER

VICKI:
The majority of people pleasers will tell you that they didn’t want to let someone down, yet that is only the surface answer. Disappointing another is about how you will be viewed by that person and yourself. It can be really debilitating to live for other people’s impressions or opinions of you. It can be totally devastating if you judge yourself as a good or bad person based on the need to do or prove something to others. The bottom line is this is a boundary issue. You need to learn to set healthy boundaries.

People, yourself included, can only do what they have within themselves to do. Frequently the person who says yes to everything has little to give because their sense of obligation leave them feeling resentful, which leaves no room to give from the heart.

The next time you are asked to do something for someone else don’t respond immediately. Just stop. Ask yourself if you have the time and if you want to do this. If the answer is negative just say no – people pleasing is like a bad drug.

There is a book called “Where To Draw The Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Everyday” by Anne Katherine. You may find this book very helpful.

JILL:
You need to look at what is behind your inability to say “I’m too busy”.
Are you trying to be supermom?
Are you subconsciously saying ‘look at how much I do’?
Do you want people to not think badly of you?
In fact, not being able to set boundaries does not make you likeable, strong or perfect.

Here are some ways to beat the urge:
Pause before answering: Train yourself that no one has the right to demand an answer right away. It may be their moment of panic but that doesn’t make it yours.

Just say NO:
Ask yourself what is going to happen? The world does not come to an end. You are merely saying “Sorry, I am too busy”’ they will find someone else.

Don’t over explain: That makes you seem defensive and gives them an opportunity to change your mind.

Visual record of your busyness: One thing that helps is when you can see how busy you are. Never answer until you have checked your day timer. Have a schedule by your home phone that shows what is happening on each day and at what time. If someone requests your time when you are out again check your day timer or blackberry before answering.

Middle of the road: If it a request that you would like to help with but time is a factor. Find the mid-way point “I can sew the costumes, bake the cookies but someone else will have to pick them up. If that doesn’t work don’t agree to it, you offered a compromise that is enough.

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When Being True To Yourself Means Saying No

QUESTION

My best friend and I have had a wonderful relationship for the past 18 years. We have been there for each other through thick and thin. She recently asked me for a favor that I feel is not in line with my spiritual beliefs and values. How can I be true to the both of us?

ANSWER

VICKI:
When we are true to ourselves we are always being true to the other; this is because we are all one. By giving yourself permission to say no to your friend’s request you model speaking your truth. That is an amazing gift to give someone.

If you were to go against your own principles it would be difficult for you to feel good with yourself and your friendship. There would be a good chance that resentment may come between you and your friend in time under those circumstances, possibly ruining a great and long-term friendship. Following our own inner value system is crucial to all of our relationships.

When you decline your friend’s request remember that it is not what you say and it’s how you say it. Remind your friend of your good feelings and wishes for her and then let her know that you cannot go against your own belief system. Someone who loves you would never want you to do that.

JILL:
Honesty is the best way to be true to yourself at this time and it will also mean that you maintain the integrity of your long friendship. Arrange to meet your friend in a restaurant that you both enjoy. A neutral place is the best backdrop in which to talk openly.
Once you are both there I cannot improve on Vicki’s advice “its not what you say and it’s how you say it…..”
Allow her to react, don’t be defensive, she will with time understand because as you wrote you have been through thick and thin together before.