-Honey, would you be a dear and stop by the post-office and pick up my mail?, your mother asks.
-Yes, Mom, you hear yourself saying, but then immediately feel bad because it means you need to make a detour and this means you will arrive late at your office meeting.
And the following inner-talk begins to run in your mind:
Why did I say Yes to her?
Why is it I never have the courage to tell my mother No?!
I am a full grown woman and I feel weak and disempowered because I don’t seem to have the power to say No to anybody.
If you often find yourself saying Yes when you should say No to people asking you to do this or that, you are a people-pleaser.
People-pleasers look to the outside world for approval, affirmation and acceptance rather than the place they should look: inside themselves.
They feel loved and accepted when they please others. This is especially true for women. It’s a slippery slope which begins in childhood when parents teach girls that to be good kids and receive their love and appreciation, they need to do what they tell them to do.
Saying Yes when you should say No means saying Yes at the expense of yourself. To establish your self-worth on the approval, appreciation and acceptance of others is wrong because it ends in exhaustion, depression, high blood pressure, low self-esteem and decreased self-confidence.
Dr. Harriet Braiker was a practicing clinical psychologist and management consultant in Los Angeles/Beverly Hills and Pasadena, California, for more than 25 years. She is the author of six books dedicated to women’s issues among which the New York Times Bestseller — The Disease to Please — Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome.
In her book, Dr. Braiker says people-pleasing is a disease and the people who suffer from this disease have the uncontrollable need for the elusive approval of others. Some people-pleasers are afraid to confront others and are afraid of their anger so they use niceness and people-pleasing as self-defense camouflage.
What happens to people-pleasers?
People-pleasers eventually experience the following feelings:
- They end up with less confidence;
- They feel like they are taken advantage of;
- They become more resentful towards the same people they say Yes to;
- They have trouble sleeping;
- They are tired and exhausted from helping everyone else;
- They fail to please the persons who matter the most — themselves;
- They don’t know their own value;
- They are essentially hurting themselves;
- Their behaviour reveals fear and avoidance of anger, rejection and confrontation;
- They feel powerless;
- They compromise their integrity.
Why is it so hard to say No?
- We fear we are not going to be loved or accepted;
- We fear we are not going to get better opportunities in the future so we accept whatever is good-enough;
- We feel we don’t deserve: a pay raise, a better car, more time for ourself, better clothes etc;
- We are afraid to confront others’ anger and “disappointment”.
Here is what dr Caryn Aviv tells the audience of her TED speech, Say No to Say Yes:
Saying No can be a form of freedom and liberation because it means you have more space to say Yes to what is really meaningful and what is really deeply important to you.
The benefits of saying No
- When you say No to activities or tasks that are not important to you, you gain time for yourself to rest and relax which can improve your mental health and well-being;
- When you say No to people who manipulate your emotions, you say Yes to people who appreciate you for who you are and accept you unconditionally with love, not rejection;
- When you say No you become more honest with yourself;
- When you say No to spending your time in irrelevant ways you gain a higher self-worth;
- You gain control over your own time which makes you feel empowered;
- You achieve an increased level of self-esteem and self-confidence which can help you get everything you deserve in life.
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