First off, accept sincere congratulations from this former people pleaser who now wields her boundary-setting prowess with ninja-like precision. Thanks to the encouragement of a therapist and countless self-sacrificial fails, I routinely partake in putting the most epic of smackdowns on human leeches, unreasonable requests and the urge to say yes when I really mean hell to the no, and I must say — it feels damn good.
Due to the horrible things that happen when you fail to assert yourself, I’d advise anyone involved in this self-destructive game of putting everyone else’s needs before your own to start playing a “me first” version of hardball ASAP. That said, reversing the habit isn’t quite that simple – just ask Oprah, who admitted to being a pushover in the past.
While giving up the doormat life doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll become the next Grand Goddess of Goodness with a complementary Stedman Graham lookalike, these six life changes that take place post-doormat status are reason enough for you to start putting yourself first – with no apologies.
Some users might pull a vanishing act, while others will resist the new you.
When you do away with a doormat mentality, you’re bound to off-load some dysfunctional relationships by default (and good riddance to them). Don’t be surprised to see far less of those whose viability is normally rooted in your reliability. However, in the case of anyone who doesn’t immediately perform a silent two-step out the nearest side door along with the rest of the people you’ve stopped enabling, standing your ground with them is key even if it feels unnatural in the beginning.
More time and energy for self-care.
Aside from flourishing edges, here’s something else reformed doormats can expect to have more of: time and energy. Disengaging from the draining act of people pleasing automatically frees up more opportunity for invaluable “me” time and the ability to mentally recharge. When you commit to being every woman to everyone but yourself, losing your sense of self is inevitable. Over time, your choices, thoughts, feelings and priorities become a blur beneath a growing pile of collective to-do lists that you didn’t create. Ridding yourself of the need to please clears the path to rediscovering and redefining who you are.
Saying “no” becomes less scary.
For those who lack the skills to pull off assertiveness, the imagined backlash or rejection associated with uttering such a potent one-syllable word might prompt cold sweats, nightmares and near-anxiety attacks. When I first moved beyond my fear of turning folks down, it felt like someone flipped on a light switch inside of me, illuminating the fact that people who truly cared about me didn’t simply stop because I denied their requests. Besides, a lifetime of fulfilling everyone else’s needs to the point that it becomes a detriment to your well-being is infinitely more frightening than saying no.
Expectthosepointless apologies you dish out to fall by the wayside.
When I routinely engaged in approval-seeking behavior, I didn’t pay much attention to the number of times I spoke the words “I’m sorry” when there was no need to apologize. But after some serious self-analysis, I got to the bottom of why I insisted on expressing so many preemptive regrets: I didn’t feel worthy. (No wonder I always felt like sh*t after needlessly using the phrase – I was literally apologizing for existing, lest my mere presence offend the next individual.) Sadly, it was just another form of people-pleasing rearing its ugly head, and when you go around apologizing for drawing breath, people tend to pick up on that attitude and treat you accordingly.
[Tweet "I was literally apologizing for existing I was literally apologizing for existing"]
Once I stopped allowing people to use me as a human sidewalk, I put the S-word on verbal time out, only to be uttered in the event that I step on someone’s shoes or accidentally become a homewrecker. Other than that, #IAintSorryNotEvenaLittleBit.
A reduction in stress.
Make the decision to put the damper on the doormat life and watch your stress levels plummet. Before I developed the tools to stand up for and validate myself, the self-imposed pressure to play by everyone else’s rules physically manifested itself in the form of constant nightmares, hair breakage and constricted shoulder and neck muscles, proving that the habit of constant placating ultimately wreaks havoc on the mind and the body.
That said, it’s no surprise that those symptoms all but disappeared (welcome back, edges!) when I started to re-prioritize and understand my value, which meant I deserved to be treated better by myself and others.
Prepare to discover healthier ways to uplift yourself.
At its core, people-pleasing behavior provides the doer with opportunities to feel better about themselves. But eliminating that faulty way of finding your inner confidence leaves you with plenty of room to fill that void with healthier practices that promote self-esteem such as experimenting with new hobbies, practicing affirmation-based rituals, hitting the gym regularly (endorphins are the real deal) and bonding with people who respect you.
Ultimately, appreciating and embracing your authentic self without anyone else’s co-sign means self-respect finally takes precedence over being accepted by others. That’s an attitude guaranteed to help you take steps in the right direction instead of being a literal stepping stone others carelessly use to get where they need to go.
Are you a people-pleaser or a recovering people-pleaser? Let us know in the comments below!
Many people approach the fall and winter excitedly anticipating the start of cuffing season or finally being able to pair their sexiest knee-high boots with trendy Olivia Pope-inspired coats. Unfortunately, I’m not at all consumed by the notion of cozy, romantic jaunts or flaunting fashionable ensembles that shield my body from the plunging temperatures. Instead, I’m preoccupied with summoning an extra dose of self-compassion to safeguard myself against the toll that Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, has invariably taken on my mind, body and soul every year for the past five years.