5 ways to stop people pleasing


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.