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Mental Stress of Being a People Pleaser

No matter how hard it may be... it’s OKAY to say no!!!

Photo by: Jon Tyson

My biggest strength is also my biggest downfall. I pride myself on my empathy and ability to share my heart with others, but I’ve developed the unfortunate habit of becoming a people pleaser, aka, someone who goes too far out of their way to make others happy.

I've struggled with this for years and I can firmly say being a people pleaser SUCKS. I've spent all this time worrying about doing whatever people ask of me, I neglected my own needs.

And the toll it took on my mental health? Huge.

I got anxiety every time I said no

I know this may sound ridiculous, but every time I told one of my friends I couldn’t help them with something, I would freak out thinking they wouldn’t like me anymore. It could’ve been the stupidest thing too一like driving them across campus because they didn’t want to walk.

I thought I had to drop everything to help someone, no matter what was going on in my own life, and it seemed as though the word “no” wasn’t in my vocabulary. It didn’t matter how much money I spent, time I wasted, or sleep I lost—I put pleasing others above everything.

People weren’t out right TELLING me that I couldn’t say no, but there was a great deal of guilt tripping. If I stood up for myself, I would receive comments like,”awww Soph no please I really need you,” or, “Soph we’re supposed to be best friends!” I felt like someone that existed to please others, instead of being my own person.

I was a fucking door mat, and people walked right over me.

I wasn’t just anxious, I was losing sleep

I can’t count the number of times they’ve called me in the middle of the night asking me to come pick them up. Whether it was a fight with their boyfriend, roommate problems, or mental stress, I was the first person they called to get them out of the college environment for a while.

It wasn’t just being a part time chauffeur that caused me to lose sleep, my whole cycle of people pleasing caused me to go to bed EXTREMELY STRESSED. By the time I would finally get home, I was mentally—and physically—exhausted. That pent of stress and mental strain forced my anxiety to spiral, which in turn kept me from sleeping.

This was a huge problem, especially as I already suffer from insomnia. Picking my friends up in the middle of the night only worsened the problem. I was running on such little sleep that it started to affect all aspects of my life.

I love my friends, and I wish I could keep giving and giving, but I'm HUMAN. My job isn't to fix my friends' messes, and it's not to be their personal oncall mom/therapist.

I didn’t notice how much I was spreading myself thin

I worked so hard doing everything for people, I didn’t leave any time for myself.

It didn’t matter what else I had going on—school, work, my own health—if someone needed me, I rearranged my life to please them.

I ran myself so thin, and let me tell you, I WAS MISERABLE.

Aside from my—now chaotic—anxiety, I actually started resenting the empathy that made me so unique.

My older sister always told me it was her favorite thing about me, but that it’s the part people take advantage of the most. I didn’t understand this until I started to despise the parts of myself that so desperately wished to wear my heart on my sleeve. I was always the “mom” friend who everyone could turn to. But suddenly, I wished that I could just be normal, not having to worry about the world, just worrying about myself.

Like I said, my anxiety was becoming more and more chaotic; I was always on edge and wasn’t happy.

I was in such a constant state of going going going, it was unhealthy. No matter how many times people told me to slow down and say no, I just couldn’t.

The insecurity that forced me to put others above myself, was in complete control.

The only person I should’ve been trying to please...was me

Overcoming being a people pleaser is hella difficult. To be honest, I’m not even completely there yet.

It was, and still is, so hard to do sometimes.

After years of pleasing others, I knew breaking my habits would be difficult. So, I started with little things.

I started with little things. If someone wanted a ride somewhere, I’d say I was “busy.”

If a friend was trying to manipulate me into going out, I told them my parents needed help at home. I chose little things that were small inconveniences.

I had to remind myself, “It’s okay if you can’t come right out and say the word no.”

Sometimes it’s easier to beat around the bush, and that’s okay. You are not obligated to give anyone an explanation. And if you get called out? A true friend will understand and applaud you for putting your needs first, rather than scolding you.

I’m not saying don’t help your friends, but being a good and thoughtful person doesn't mean ignoring the moments you need to put yourself—and your mental health—first.

I was no help to anyone when I was stretching myself so thin, and neither are you.

Take a bath.

Drink some water.

Scream at the top of your lungs if you need to.

It's okay to put your needs before others, you matter too! People pleasing may be a hard habit to break, but with a little bit of effort, and some active self care, I promise it's not impossible.

~Trust the good vibes and spread all the love!


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