Have A Nice Day Handwritten Note

Yes, it can feel good to say no

The pandemic could be a remedy for the disease to please

Written by Professor Gary Martin FAIM
3 minute read
Have A Nice Day Handwritten Note

With the pandemic pushing many down a path of self-reflection, some have ended up discovering a crack or two in their own, seemingly flawless character.

Intense soul searching has unveiled a raft of personal imperfections including failure to spend enough precious time with loved ones or escalating career dissatisfaction and a growing realisation that material possessions are no substitute for true happiness.  

There are also those who have discovered that their lives have been ruled by a disease to please.

We have all met people pleasers. 

They say “yes” when they want to say “no”, agree with others when they really disagree and apologise for mistakes they simply did not make.

People pleasers have had a particularly tough time during the pandemic.

They attended social gatherings even though they preferred not too, they went back to the office when their preference was to work from home and they agreed to look after others’ children despite feeling extremely pushed for time.

We all want to please our family, friends and work colleagues – it is just that people pleasers take these efforts a step too far.  

They change their words and actions and give up their time and energy just to make others happy or to prevent them from being disappointed.

Their constant need for approval and to be liked drives the apparent ease with which they are prepared to please others.

People pleasers end up disguising their true selves by putting on an act to keep everyone happy.

Over time, their lack of authenticity can create feelings of low self-worth and frustration and place them at considerable risk of burnout. 

Apart from saying yes to almost everything, you will know you have become a people pleaser if you always agree to help others even when you are stretched, you put others’ wishes first and you steer clear of all conflict.

Rejecting compliments, taking better care of others than yourself, rarely asking for or accepting help and having a low opinion of yourself are also tell-tale signs that you are becoming a people pleaser.

Many people pleasers have discovered during their pandemic-induced awakening that their generous ways come with a hefty price tag.  

Some have realised they are being taken advantage of. Others feel they have been forced to prioritise their agreeableness over personal integrity and many have discovered their relationships are more one-sided than they had imagined.

They have also discovered what experts have known for a long time – being a pleaser is a double-edged sword. 

On the one hand, people pleasers experience an intense feeling of guilt if they say “no” because they feel like they are letting someone down. 

At the same time, a strong feeling of resentment often accompanies a “yes” because any request is likely to encroach on an already over-stacked plate brimming with commitments.

While reformed people pleasers once believed they were masters at making others happy, they have finally discovered that their real strength lies in their capacity to make themselves feel miserable and inadequate.

This new understanding has prompted them to take a more considered approach to responding to requests and demands and to be less inclined to cave in at the drop of a hat.

Overcoming the need to please requires people pleasers to not only recognise that their own needs matter just as much as those of others but to strike the right balance between meeting their needs and those of family, friends and colleagues.

Failure to find the balance will often mean that people pleasers end up being pulled in so many different directions that they end up being of little help to themselves or those who they want to support.

As many people pleasers have discovered during the pandemic, if you have to compromise your own needs, standards or even personality, the price of being nice might be too high.