Are You a People Pleaser? Five Tips To Help You Stop

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In trying to please all, he had pleased none. Aesop, Aesop's Fables

Are you a People Pleaser? There is a reason I brought this question up! I am a recovering People Pleaser. No, really, I am, and  I am not entirely sure how this choice of action began in my life, but I do think it is an easy trap for people to fall into.

I recently ran across a poem in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book which speaks directly to this issue. It is a bit  long, but I believe it is worth the time to help us see clearly whether or not we have a problem in this area.

While most of this poem is obviously an extreme case of people pleasing, and does not describe my personal experience, it paints a good picture of different

characteristics one might observe in

oneself who leans towards people pleasing.

Angela’s World

By, Barbara K. Bassett

When Angela was very young, age two or three or so, her father and her mother taught her never to say “NO”. They taught her that she must agree with everything they said, and if she didn’t, she was spanked and sent upstairs to bed.

So Angela grew up to be a most agreeable child; she was never angry and she was never wild; she always shared, she always cared, she never picked a fight, and not matter what her parents said, she thought that they were right.

Angela the angel did very well in school. And, as you might imagine, she followed every rule; her teachers said she was well-bred, so quiet and so good, but how Angela felt inside they never understood.

Angela had lots of friends who liked her for her smile; they knew she was the kind of gal who’d go the extra mile; and even when she had a cold and really needed rest, when someone asked her if she’d help, she always answered “yes”.

When Angela was thirty-three, she was a lawyer’s wife. She had a home and family, a nice suburban life. She had a girl of four and a little boy of nine, and if someone asked her how she felt, she always answered, “Fine.”

But one cold night near Christmastime when her family was in bed, she lay awake as awful thoughts went spinning through her head; she didn’t know why, and she didn’t know how, but she wanted her life to end; so she begged Whoever put her here to take her back again.

And then she heard from deep inside, a voice that was soft and low; it only said a single word and the word it said was…”NO.”

From that moment on, Angela knew exactly what she had to do. Her life depended on that word, so this is what her loved ones heard:

“NO, I just don’t want to; NO, I don’t agree; NO, that’s yours to handle; NO, that’s wrong for me; NO, I wanted something else; NO, that hurt a lot! NO, I’m tired, and NO, I’m busy, and NO, I’d rather not!”

Well, her family found it shocking, her friends reacted with surprise; but Angela was different, you could see it in her eyes; for they’ve held no meek submission since that night three years ago when Angela the angel got permission to say NO.

Today Angela’s a person first, then a mother and a wife. She knows where she begins and ends, she has a separate life. She has talents and ambitions, she has feelings, needs, and goals. She has money in the bank and an opinion at the polls.

And to her boy and girl she says, ” It’s nice when we agree; but if you can’t say ‘NO’, you’ll never grow to be all you’re meant to be. Because I know I’m sometimes wrong and because I love you so, you’ll always be my angels even when you tell me ‘NO’.

Have you ever had a hard time saying “NO” even though your instinct told you to?  Were you worried about what the ‘asker’ might think of you? Did you say “yes” to avoid that negative response? I often had a terribly hard time saying that two letter word as my children were growing up. Being at home afforded me the time and the opportunity to say “yes” to many jobs that needed to be done by a volunteer. Being a teacher for nearly ten years before I became a mom, helped me to be comfortable as a volunteer, among a lot of kids, both in classrooms and in sports. So check, room mom, check, team mom, check, small group church teacher, check, teacher appreciation chair, check, PTF President for three years…you get the picture.

There are two books that have been especially helpful in helping me to break the habit of being a People Pleaser: Boundaries:When to say Yes and When to say No to Take Control of Your Life By, Henry Cloud and The Dance With Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships By, Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.

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A younger neighbor volunteers his riding lawn mower to help his older neighbor with his lawn.

Now, please don’t think I am suggesting that we should all say “no” to all requests for volunteerism! OUR world as we know it could not exist…it would be turned upside down,  without the tremendous number of reliable folks who step out into the world each day, working diligently without earning a paycheck. And I bet most would agree that the rewards they receive from their labor is well worth the effort and time.

If you have a People Pleasing Pattern, you may often find yourself trying to be who others want you to be, agreeing with them to fit in. You may not be consciously aware that you are doing this, but there is part of your psych that wants to please others in order to avoid reactions that you are afraid of.

If this post has struck a chord with you,

here are five tips to help you stop being a People Pleaser:

(1) Realize you have a choice. You can say “NO”. Let the person doing the asking know that you need some time to think about and pray over your decision.

(2) Don’t apologize-if it’s not your fault. Ask yourself if you are responsible for the situation. If you’re not, let it go.

(3) Set clear boundaries and follow through. Be clear in communicating your boundaries to others.

(4) Consider who you want to share your time with.

(5) Realize you cannot be “everything” to “everybody”. That’s impossible. Even Gumby couldn’t do that!

OUR friends and family are important in our lives, but if they’re not giving us the support and love we need to pursue our dreams and goals, then we may want to consider spending a little less time with them. You may be that person that gives and gives and gives unconditionally, loving and supporting, yet, you do not receive the same when your needs come up. If this is true, take some quiet time out to take a good look at this. Like me, you will be glad once you begin to learn a healthier way to journey through this life. We teach people how to treat us. My sister, Laura Lea and I talk a lot about how often people can either “fill us up” OR “drain us”. We have and we need both kinds of people in our lives, but we also need to remember to refuel after the draining has occurred.

How about you?

Are you a People Pleaser?

If so, take a few minutes to begin the change today.

Is someone you care about deeply leaning towards being a People Pleaser?

Consider sharing this post with them,

so they, too, can live a more healthy life.

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Volunteers make the world go ’round! Consider prayerfully where you can make a difference in your sphere of influence today. It’s a wonderful thing when we volunteer for a job that is ideal for our interests/skill set, and not just every need that comes along.
...love all and everything and spread a network of love everywhere. No matter who gets into this net, catch them all and fill them with love. Leo Tolstoy (1820-1910 Russian Novelist)

May Is Here Finish The Drill

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Spring is nature’s way of saying,

“Let’s party!” 

Robin Williams

No matter how chaotic it is wildflowers will still spring up in the middle of nowhere.”

Sheryl Crow

My favorite bulletin board idea was one I used when I taught fifth grade.

I think it was the kids’ favorite, too.

The colorful board had a huge hamburger across the board and my students got to place pictures and words, “the “fixings”- on the big burger with all the things they wanted to do during the coming summer. The heading read:

HamburgerI’LL TAKE ONE SUMMER-HOLD THE HOMEWORK

Now that it is May first, everyone is really ready to close the books on this school year. In fact, most colleges have either had their commencements or they are scheduled for the very near future.The lower schools are counting the days, going by slow as molasses for the students and a little faster for the teachers as they work hard to accomplish all the skills on their lists. And the parents? They are making summer plans, camp, day-care and hopefully a trip to the beach if they’re lucky.

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Our rhododendron bud waits for its day to pop.

Spring sports are in full session, along with Spring plays and musical performances, while small groups of Moms meet over coffee to plan the end-of-year parties. Parents attend awards programs and scout groups wrap things up for the year. Coach Mark Richt was famous for telling his University of Georgia Bulldog players: “Let’s finish the drill!!!”

While all this is happening in the busy month of May, flowers and animals in our midst are quietly displaying the handiwork of Spring. Just following Easter, May is a time where all things really do seem new and our Creator, through NATURE, does an incredible job of showing us the newness of life which unfolds in May. It’s a time to finish things up and start the next new thing.

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Our rhododendron bud begins the process of spreading its wings.
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A little closer to blooming, , rhododendrons have long been mainstays of late spring because of their spectacular clusters of showy blooms and large green leaves that last through the winter.
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This one is nearly in full bloom now!
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Last week, I had to rescue this scared, little bunny from our dog, Mocha’s teeth. Thankfully, he was not injured beyond repair as he slowly rejoined his family in the bushes.

Homes become safe havens for baby birds and other babies who are new in the Spring. Nests are built in wreaths, flowerpots, nearby trees and bushes. May is a time for yard and garage sales and For Sale signs going up in front of some homes where families are ready for something different or a job change has prompted a move to a new location.

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Annaclaire hangs out with her cousin, Titus, both now age one.
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Picnic Time!
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Titus is asking: “What flavor are those fingers, Annaclaire?”

May is a good time to take notice on how quick your little ones are growing right out of the clothes you have for them and how their little toes are cramming into their shoes. To read about the six babies born into our family in 2014, including these two cuties, click here: Carve Your Name On Hearts.

What is on your list for MAY that will help you successfully “finish the drill?”

Do something that makes you smile.

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Red geraniums make me happy! I will be planting these soon along with some of my favorite herbs and some bright yellow lantana.

Blaze Your Own Trail Dolly Parton: Dream More

I first posted these thoughts on January 26, 2015, and I am updating them here, because there has been some big news in the region where Dolly Parton was raised. Did you happen to catch NBC’s special about her life this past week? The title is Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love. DID YOU KNOW? Dolly Parton, who turned 70 on her last birthday, January 19, 1946, was raised in an unimaginably poor household. One of 12 children, yes, the home was filled with love abounding, but many times her big family found themselves both cold and hungry as they grew up in the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee area in the stunning Great Smoky Mountains. As Donny and I watched the show I mentioned above, I was once again reminded of how Dolly (along with the help of her Uncle Billy) never, ever gave up on her dreams to one day be a star. Dolly Parton, as we now all know, reached her dreams even more than could be imagined! As we also know, thousands in and around the cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge had to be evacuated on Monday night, November 28, 2016, due to horrific and rapid spreading fires throughout the Great Smoky Mountains. Parton agreed to directly aid each family who has been impacted by these wild fires and she is calling her response: “My People Fund.” What dreams do you and I want to carry out in the new year that is ahead of us? Let’s never give up on our dreams to leave the kind of legacy we would like to leave behind.

So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”
Christopher Reeve

As a fifty-something woman, I am always looking for fresh ideas and new energy. That is why I checked out a book on CD from Cracker Barrel for my recent five-hour drive to Abingdon, Virginia. I decided on Dolly Parton’s DREAM MORE: Celebrate the Dreamer in You, and I am glad I did.

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Did you know that Dolly Parton’s Daddy, a tobacco farmer, could not read or write? He paid the doctor who delivered Dolly with a sack of oatmeal.  Did you know that Dolly, the fourth of twelve children, announced “I’m  goin’ to Nashville and I’m gonna be a star!” to all who would listen when she graduated from Sevierville High School in 1964?  Not only did Dolly go and accomplish this huge dream of hers, but in 1995, she also developed The Imagination Library. Dolly wanted every preschool child in her native Sevier County, Tennessee to have his/her own collection of books. Imagination Library currently serves children in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., providing more that 560,000 children with a book each month!  It was really fun listening to Dolly read and sing her way through this book on CD, as the miles from GA to VA clicked by. Dolly Parton highlighted four areas that I want to emphasize as I celebrate the dreamer inside myself and hope you will do the same:

Dream More

Don’t let the weeds grow around your dreams! Keep dreamin’ ’til you take your last breath.

Learn More

Keep reading, researching and learning as much as you possibly can.

Care More

There is always going to be someone less fortunate who shows up in your path. Care for them!

Be More

Follow the Golden Rule! BE the best YOU you can be.

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While in Abingdon, VA, we visited the local Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning and got to meet a creative,  young woman who is going after her dreams: Artist, Jenny Nichols, owner of Mountain Primadonna. Jenny designs unique jewelry and she had many things on display at the market. I purchased this “Blaze Your Own Trail” necklace from Jenny as I reflected on the message Dolly Parton had shared with “me” on my drive north. You can also meet Jenny on her blog Freedom to be.

As I go forward I want to keep my dreams alive and blaze my trail that is uniquely prepared for me.

A tiny spark can start the flame glowing for that dream you may have left in the dust long ago.

What is that aspiration that has nearly been forgotten that you want to resurrect in your life today?

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A necklace designed by Jenny, artist and owner of Mountain Primadonna
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…let’s follow the Light that is shining on our path…
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We will encounter rocks and roots in our path, even so, let’s keep moving forward towards our dreams.