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5 ways to stop people pleasing

stop-sign

Sometimes I will meet someone whose main problem is exhaustion. They put everyone else first – they don’t even come second or third on the list. They’re the one who gets the late night call for a lift because it’s raining. They bake the cakes for the fundraiser when they’ve already done a full day’s work. They give, give, give and can’t make time to recharge their own batteries. They want to say no, but struggle to do it. If this sounds familiar, here are 5 ways to stop that pattern.

  1. When someone asks you a favour, imagine a big red ‘STOP’ sign flashing in front of your eyes. Try that now. It doesn’t mean you have to say no to everything, but it will give you the chance to pause and consider what’s best.
  2. Say no with empathy. If someone’s in a tricky situation, say ‘That sounds really difficult but I don’t have the time to give right now.’ People like to be heard and understood and this is a way of saying no with respect.
  3. Know that your needs count. You don’t have to apologise when you’re not able to be there, especially when it comes out of the blue. Track how often you say sorry to people and make it a personal goal to reduce the number of times a week you apologise unnecessarily.
  4. Know your boundaries. Set yourself a schedule of when you can be available each week and then stick to it. For example, if you have a friend who’s constantly calling with their problems, you could say, “This isn’t a good time right now, but let’s agree a time that suits us both later in the week.” Then set a limit on that time.
  5. Reward yourself when you’ve done any of the above. Recognise your own worth and your achievements. Celebrate the victories and enjoy the change. You just got yourself some you-time. Enjoy.

The little voice inside your head

hiding

“I feel so stupid!”

Have you ever worried how someone would react if you told them what was really going on in your head? Those niggling thoughts, the scathing self-judgement if you make a mistake?  ‘Idiot.’ ‘Told you it was useless.’ If a friend spoke to you like that you’d drop them, wouldn’t you?

As a therapist I often get to hear about those thoughts. (Actually, I ask about them. That’s therapists for you.) Clients tell me that often it’s not so much the initial problem that bothers them; it’s the mental fall out, the shame spiral afterwards that can cause the most pain. And they’ve never spoken about it before.

It’s important to know that this inner chatter is learned. You’re not born with it (babies don’t have it). And the great news is because it was learned, it can be unlearned. The therapy room is a safe place to bring these dark thoughts into the open. You can use techniques to manage or get rid of the chatter. You can find out where it came from in the first place and let go. You can free yourself.

But one thing’s for certain – you’re not stupid. It takes courage to open up to someone else in this way. It’s a real privilege for me to hear about it. And personally I respect you for that.