I found myself dealing with a very forceful woman the other day who just wouldn’t accept that I couldn’t give her an appointment because I was fully booked up.
She refused to hear what I was saying and continued to push at my personal boundaries for several minutes.
Feeling the pressure building up inside me, I had to fight with every fibre of my being to not fall back into an old pattern of mine: being a people-pleaser.
There was a time in my life when I would’ve just given in and created an extra space somewhere in my schedule, knowing full well that it would inconvenience me significantly and cause me to feel overwhelmed.
I used to be the sort of person who:
- just couldn’t say ‘no’.
- felt responsible for how other people felt.
- felt uncomfortable if someone was angry with me or disapproved of me.
- avoided conflict like the plague.
- pretended to agree with everyone.
- apologised for everything, even if it had nothing to do with me.
- felt burdened by all the things I had to do.
- moulded my behaviour to fit in with whomever I was with.
- would never say anything if my feelings were being hurt.
So, what changed?
Two simple things.
I became consciously aware of the balance of power between myself and others.
And I started valuing myself.
The old, people-pleasing me used to put everyone else’s needs and wishes well above my own.
I was actively brought up to do this. I learnt from an early age that what mattered most was that I kept everyone else happy, even if it went against my own needs and wishes.
The balance of power was strongly tipped towards other people.
And, I did it so well … until, that is, it started creating unbearable stress in my life, and I had little choice but to look at how I was showing up in my own life.
The fact that I had been elevating other people’s needs above my own for so long pointed directly to my lack of self-worth. I wasn’t important enough in my own eyes to be bothered about myself.
This created a lot of internal conflict, anxiety and unhappiness.
Not any more!
I now value and respect myself enough to know that my needs are just as important as anyone else’s.
I’m clear about my boundaries and willing to assert them.
And I am constantly striving to equalise any power imbalances in my personal relationships.
As for the lady who wouldn’t take no for an answer, well, I managed to hold my ground, firmly but politely, and in the end she had to accept that the best I could do was put her on my waiting list.
Left unchecked, people-pleasing can be a harmful tendency. If you recognise any of the traits listed earlier in yourself, spend a few minutes reflecting on the distribution of power between you and the significant others in your life.
Identify any relationships where you may be minimising yourself in order to please others.
Then work towards cultivating a greater sense of self-worth.
Here’s an earlier blog showing you how: How to Cultivate Greater Self Worth
If you are serious about stepping into your power then invest in a copy of my book “The Power of Speaking your Truth”. This is a practical, down-to-earth, easy to follow self-help guide that will coach you to reconnect with your personal power.