All my life I have been the one to say “Yes” to whatever is asked of me. “Yes” to overextending myself in fear of letting people down. “Yes” to doing things that I did not always want to do. Yes to doing things even when my body is telling me I need to rest. “Yes” to being hurt when I say “No” and disappoint others. But why does it bother me so much? Why can’t I just say “No” and be ok. Why am I such a People Pleaser?
I have always wanted to fit in. I never felt like the “cool” kid. I was always trying to stay one step ahead by being involved. However, it came at a cost. I would find myself doing things that I did not want or like to do. I would be super tired and lacked in taking care of myself because I just couldn’t say “No.” I grew up in the church where I was on the Usher Board, the youth choir, the Young People's Division, the dance team, the cheer squad (when we had one), attended Sunday School, worked on the church bulletin, and volunteered with the food bank. I would be so tired from ripping and running every day from one event to the next but saying no would mean that I would have to disappoint someone. My grandmother loved the Usher Board and the thought of telling her I did not want to Usher was frightening. If you knew my grandmother, Ushering was her thing so I definitely could not say no, so there I was on the 2nd and 4th Sundays in my Black & White ushering the members of the church in. If you know me then you know, I can’t hold a note, but I was at Choir practice every week because we needed more Alto’s and that’s where all the young folks were at. Truthfully, I would rather be on the floor dancing to the voices of the choir but that did not come until later. I spent years in the choir and hiding from the microphone. There was one day in rehearsal where our Choir Director wanted everyone to sing a part of the song alone. I was petrified and made an excuse to leave practice at that moment. When I came back, they had moved on to the other group and I was relieved. Lord knows I needed to spare myself the embarrassment of singing alone. That same day I was asked if I could praise dance to the song the choir was rehearsing. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to dance instead of sing, but I felt so bad for leaving the choir like I did.
Even as an adult I find myself still feeling like I need to please everyone. At work I am always willing to step in and take over when I see a need (even though there are others who can perform the task too). When one of the Department heads needs help because their staff can’t or won’t do something, they come to me…and I say yes with no hesitation. The problem with that is I get overloaded with so much work and not enough time to complete it. I must remind myself that other people in the office can do the same task, let them. I am always worried about the way others will look at me if I pass the work to someone else instead of just doing it. I think the biggest problem for me is I know how it feels to be disappointed when you ask someone to do something and they say no, so I try not to be the person who says no. However, my lack of saying no is causing me to have way more work than others and a tired body.
People pleasing has also spilled into my friendships. I don’t want to say no to them because I fear losing my friend. I have been asked by friends to watch their children while they went out to concerts, restaurants, and whatever other fun things. I would say yes, knowing I was upset because I liked going out too, but I was always seen as the babysitter. I should have spoken up and told them how I felt but it was hard. I knew they needed me or else they would not have asked, but deep down I was hurt they did not ask me to hang out.
Aisha…It’s okay to say No. It’s okay to choose you FIRST! Always remember, “When your NO is respectful, truthful and polite, people will appreciate it as much as your YES!” Stop feeling bad about choosing YOU. I have to remind myself that I can't pour from an empty cup!
So how do I find balance? How do I get through those times when I need to say “No?” Simple…Saying these daily affirmations remind me that I don’t need to people please to be a nice and helpful person. They are my constant reminder that I need to come first.