Let me start by saying that, there is nothing wrong with wanting to help, serve, and make people happy. The dangerous thing about people-pleasing is when you consistently place other’s needs in front of your own, to the detriment of yourself. Everyone has different reasons for why they people-please, but it all comes down to a longing to feel accepted and loved.
I used to have my worth and confidence rooted in other people. When I was younger, and especially in high school, I held the weight of expectations—of being this perfect role model—on my shoulders, and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone or be a failure. I would get so anxious about making a mistake, saying the wrong thing, and I obsessed over what people thought of me or how they perceived me; and I became compliant and indecisive. At the same time, I was very insecure and mistrustful of people-so it was a weird, dark, isolating, chapter of my life. My senior year took the cake. A lot was happening in my life and internally, I didn’t like who I was, and I just felt like I was failing everybody. All of my joy was robbed. I was empty.
Amazingly, that same year, my life was forever changed and I embarked on a journey of healing, where I realized two things that helped me break away from my people pleasing tendencies:
1) My value and
2) My values.
And after prioritizing my needs, I found that I could serve from love instead of seeking for validation.
Now, don’t let the title fool you. Just because this is a how-to, it does not mean that I no longer have to
check in with myself. I do. I may have to for the rest of my life, and I’m okay with that.
IT’S ABOUT VALUING YOURSELF, NOT DEVALUING OTHERS
If you don’t value yourself, then no one else will. Not in the way that you should be. Because when you believe that you’re not worth it, then you’ll act like it, and invite others to treat you that way. You are here, you are breathing, and that in itself is proof that you have a purpose. I personally believe that purpose is not a destination but a journey ... and our journey isn’t about striving for acceptance and love. You are already enough.
We’re not always going to feel valuable, but remind yourself of your precious worth; and place that above your immediate emotional feelings. When you receive this gift for yourself, then you’ll be able to set boundaries. Boundaries are so important. As I reflected on my life, I realized that boundaries can look different in various aspects of our lives. For example, as a deaf individual, I used to feel like a burden for asking my teachers, peers, or whomever to repeat themselves or to accommodate me in any way. The annoyance or impatience would show up in their tone, body language, facial expressions, and even words; and I didn’t think that I could ask for anything because I was already too much. It took me a while but, eventually, I learned that I’m not too much, I’m enough. One boundary that came out of that realization is that I will no longer be apologetic for asking for accommodations. Today, I keep in mind that not a lot of people know d/Deaf/Hard of Hearing people so some things are going to be new and require adjustment. That’s totally cool. But I will not stop communicating my needs or apologize for doing so to appease people. You feel?
I have my moments but I’m a zillion steps ahead from where I used to be!
BOUNDARIES HELP YOU AND OTHERS
Boundaries are protection and when you protect yourself, your heart, and your time in good ways, you’ll be able to start making healthy decisions for your life—and your relationships. Like I said earlier, boundaries look different in different areas of our lives. Today, let’s talk about time and space.
As a people pleaser (speaking from experience) you may have a hard time saying no or feel the need to be there for everyone, and for everything. But we don’t and we can’t, honestly. When we take on more than we can handle, we wear ourselves thin and we won’t be able to be our best selves. So we need to say “no,” so that we can take the time we need to recharge.
Something I’ve learned in the past few years, is that I can’t just expect people to know what I need. I have to openly communicate and help them, help me. By doing this, I provide them with the opportunity to learn and be mindful. This is exactly how we should treat boundaries!
In case you’re wondering what boundaries can look like in your life, I got you covered! It can look like:
1. Negotiating a better arrangement. You could say something like, “That time doesn’t work for me. Can we do an earlier time, or would another day work better?” This can work for protecting your busy schedule or personal, self-care, time.
2. Saying no when you shouldn’t, can’t, or don’t want to do something.
As a precaution, I want to say that when you set boundaries, it won’t always be well received. However, the people who support you are the one’s worth keeping close.
Again, it’s totally okay for friendships and other relationships to be inconvenient. It often actually is. And it’s a good thing to sacrifice, be there for others, and love people; but don’t forget about yourself and who you’re becoming.
Think of it like this: We are all vessels. Right? Well, we can’t pour from an empty vessel—we have to take some time to fill it up with things that rejuvenate our energy and help us share the best of what we have to offer.
I hope that this helps as a starter guide of sorts!
You are so worth it. You matter. Your health matters. Your well-being matters.
The right boundaries will help you flourish in the best way.
Written By: Desiree S. Washington