How can I stop this habit and maintain my empathy?
People will take advantage of whoever they can, to get whatever they want. I know this is a generalization, but we all do it. It’s not malicious, it is a way for people to emotionally survive. People are naturally manipulative. It begins when we are infants and we learn to fake cry to get our parent’s attention.
I am a notorious people pleaser. Especially with the people I love. There are people in my life that know this and take advantage of my kindness and passivity. This is going to stop today. I am done with saying yes to something I do not want to do, just to feel burnt out later. I’m done with feeling guilty after saying no to something unreasonable that I’m being asked to do. I’m just done.
If you are an empath, you will feel another person’s feelings deeply. If you are an empath and also a people-pleaser, it is like a knife your heart to disappoint someone you care about. Here’s the real kicker: We feel this guilt even if this person has disappointed us multiple times in the past.
People-pleasing is a natural instinct for an empath. We want everyone to be happy and content. We are the peace-makers. Empaths typically do not like to “rock the boat”. We put ourselves second. Actually, if I am being honest, we put ourselves dead last. This is a problem.
So why do we have such difficulty with the word “no”? I believe that people-pleasing begins at a young age and usually stems from low-self worth.
There are many reasons why we say yes when we want to say no:
- We want to make others happy.
- We hate conflict and want to avoid it at any cost.
- We hate seeing other people upset or disappointed.
- We believe that by saying yes, we can make someone happy.
- We may be co-dependent on someone.
- We seek approval from others.
- We always put ourselves in another’s place, while neglecting how we feel.
- We have low-self worth.
The results of being an empath and a people-pleaser are not good. Empathy on its own is an excellent trait to have. We are in-tune with others, we care, and we love others. However, to be a true empath, we must show ourselves love. Being a people-pleaser is counterproductive to our well-being. It makes us suppress our emotions and only cater to the needs of others. This is not self-love. This is self-sabotage and it is unhealthy.
By being an empath and a people-pleaser, we are leaving ourselves open to being taken advantage of by narcissists, bullies, and other toxic people. People who are users are drawn to both empaths and people-pleasers. If we allow it, these people will suck us dry until there’s nothing left, then they are gone. Where do they go? Since we are no longer useful to them, they’re off to find a new host.
So how do we stop being a people-pleaser and maintain our empathy? The answer is not to shut down and say no to everything and everyone. I think the answer is inside of us. When we are asked to do something we don’t want to do, we hear that little voice inside vocalize opposition. We need to start listening to that voice. That voice is our inner-self telling us we have reached our limit.
We need to start putting more value on our feelings. We need to accept that we can’t make everyone happy all of the time. That is not our responsibility. Our responsibility is to ourselves and the people who don’t expect us to drop everything to please them. The people who will love us and treat us with respect regardless of what we decide to do.
Self-love is not selfish. Self-love is treating yourself the way you would treat someone you love. We need to practice this daily. I think my people-pleasing stems from low-self worth. Those of us with low-self worth need to love ourselves more than the average person. We need to stop judging ourselves for what we aren’t doing and congratulate ourselves on what we are doing.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been a people-pleaser. I have always tried to make everyone happy and usually at my own expense. I am a mother now and this year has definitely made me change my view on my current situation. I am burnt out, I have health issues, and my toddler is not sleeping well. I am trying to get my writing career off the ground and maintain a healthy marriage. These are the things that should matter to me. So I’m not waiting for New Years Day to make a resolution. This starts today.
Wish me luck.