How to Quit People-Pleasing and Start Saying No


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How to Quit People-Pleasing and Start Saying No

From childhood, we are programmed to say yes when our friends and family ask us to do something. In adulthood, it is easy to let frustration build up over social activities and obligations. How many times has a situation like this come up for you or a close friend?  You have to spend 4 hours on the weekend driving to your not-so-close second cousin’s baby shower. This day is sunny and you would rather spend the time outside planting your garden, but your family will expect you to attend the gathering and you go because you don’t want to anger or insult them. There is another answer to this situation: You can decline the invitation and say “NO.”

Learning to be Comfortable with Your Decision

Since the rise of social media, a new phenomenon has risen to the top of mental health discussions. FoMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is the anxiety over believing something else cool is going on while you’re not there.  This belief is the reason that many people agree to plans and activities that may make them unhappy. According to Psychology Today, close to 75% of all young people reported experiencing this feeling. People with a high sense of FoMO tend to be depressed by missing out on events, whether they want to attend them or not. These feelings can arise among college age students, who go through a lot of life changes at one time. We offer tips on dealing with depression and anxiety in college here.

Remember if attending an event is going to cause more stress than it is going to bring joy, free yourself from the obligation to say yes. You may miss out on a “you had to be there” joke or two, but you will find your day to be more enjoyable.

When is People Pleasing Toxic?

Saying no can also help increase your mental health and sense of calmness. In situations where you know the outcomes will be more negative than positive, you can opt out. There is a level of people pleasing that many of us fall victim to when it comes to certain people. House Method suggests keeping your home environment peaceful by addressing these people (spouses, siblings, roommates and parents) directly when an issue arises. Saying yes to situations that we know will cause us frustration, like dog sitting when you sister’s out of town (even though you have a pet allergy), picking up your neighbor at the airport in the middle of the night or being asked to be in a college friend’s bridal party, can lead to bigger issues if they are not addressed as they are brought up.  There may people in your life that are just a little more toxic or tough to take because of the emotional toll they take on your life. Mental Floss suggests limiting your exposure to this type of person and not letting them manipulate you into getting what they want.

Just Say No

Just like Marie Kondo’s KonMari method of letting possessions go that no longer serve you, elimination of stressful situations (by saying no to people) can be great for your mental health, according to Prevention. The American Academy of Family Physicians identified five degrees of saying no if you need to be delicate about declining an invitation or request to work over the weekend. You can choose to tell someone you’ll sleep on giving your answer, or offer a “No” response based on conditions that might be negotiated to match your needs. Remember to be firm in your answer and let the person asking you know that you have thoughtfully considered their offer.


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