How to Say “NO” and Stop Being a People Pleaser

Most people want to be liked. Consequently, they find ways to achieve their goal. Some turn into comedians while countless others adopt the behaviors of a people pleaser. People pleasers find saying no hard because they imagine that doing so will make them unpopular, and being disliked is what they fear most. If you want to turn people down in a carefree manner, it may be time to change your perspective.

You already do exactly what you want

“What!” I hear you say. “I am reading this article because I want to learn how to please myself instead of always taking care of the needs of others. I hardly ever do what I want.”

The truth is that people only ever do what they desire. Nobody forces you to be a people pleaser. You say yes to people’s requests because the reward that you gain from pleasing them is larger than the payoff you get when you don’t please them.

What is your payoff?

What is the reward you gain from pleasing people? Maybe, saying yes stops you from experiencing a confrontation, and you have low self-esteem so you don’t want to be in a position that you find hard to handle. Alternatively, perhaps you imagine that saying no makes you a bad person. You might have the idea that being kind means that you should always please people. On the other hand, you may fear that not accommodating the needs of others will result in you being ostracized, and you don’t want to be lonely.

Challenge your idea

Ask yourself some pertinent questions. For instance, would working on your self-esteem be more beneficial than saying yes to requests when you would rather say no? Do compassionate people always do other’s bidding? Does running around after people really make you feel accepted and loved? Most importantly, are you blocking self-growth and your fulfillment when you are not true to yourself? You may discover that the thought of never glimpsing your potential or being truly happy is scarier than saying, “no.”

Change the payoff

So far, the payoff from your behavior, when interacting with others who want things from you, has been to be liked, which alleviates underlying insecurities. However, if you address the issues that make you a people pleaser, the payoff gained from saying yes will shrink. 

You will benefit more by pleasing yourself than pleasing other people. Sometimes, agreeing to carry out people’s requests will make you happy. You will not stop helping people simply because you gain self-esteem or increase your social network so that you are not lonely. The main difference will be that you act on your own terms instead of feeling powerless.

The art of saying “no.”

Saying yes has become a habit, and you might not know how to create a sentence in which no features without using language that demeans you. You may automatically want to apologize when not agreeing to carry out people’s demands. 

Additionally, you may use language such as “I’m afraid,” as in “I’m afraid I won’t be able to do that.” Are you really sorry that you are not going to spend five hours babysitting when you are going to chill on the couch instead and watch a movie with the one you love? Alternatively, are you genuinely afraid to not agree to mow your neighbor’s lawn while they are on holiday? If you are sorry or afraid, you have more issues to work on than you thought!

People often demean themselves in an effort to placate others when turning them down. Much of the time, their endeavors don’t appease anyone; their refusal just sounds weak. If you don’t want people to keep making the same request after you’ve said no, phrase your refusal wisely.

“I have other things I want to do” is an acceptable response to a request. You don’t need to add any more information or make excuses. You have a right to turn people down without having to justify your stance.

Pushy people

Sometimes, people who ask you to carry out a task might be surprised by your response when you’ve said no without apologizing; they are not used to such honesty. If they ask for details about why you won’t comply with their demands, remain direct. “If I do what you want me to do, I won’t be able to do what I want to do” is a sufficient answer. 

When people don’t let the matter drop, don’t feel guilty. You don’t have to tell them what you are going to do instead of pleasing them. Just repeat what you’ve already said, change the subject or smile and say, “good luck with that.” 

Forgive people who ask a great deal of you and attempt to push you into agreeing to their demands when you say no. After all, they are relying on others to please them and get their needs met. They don’t understand that it’s not other people’s job to make them happy. Consequently, because they don’t know how to please themselves, they often have requirements that are not satisfied. You, on the other hand, are beginning to understand how to be autonomous and are empowered.

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