Do you continue to place the needs of others before your own? Do you find yourself resenting the tasks you’ve volunteered to do only because you never wanted to do them in the first place? Are you feeling burnt-out, irritable, and disconnected from the people in your life?
People-pleasing can be mentally exhaustive. Rather than identifying your needs and wants, you’re constantly trying to cater to others. As a result, you’re left feeling insecure, stressed, and downright frustrated with people around you.
Learning how to be more assertive can help you feel more confident, and it can even strengthen the quality of your relationships. Let’s get into what you need to know.
Understand Your Fears of Rejection
Want to know the core fear underneath almost all passive, people-pleasing behavior? It’s the fear of rejection. It’s the fear that people will judge, abandon, and stop loving you for asserting what you need.
Changing this thought pattern takes time. Of course, everyone wants to be liked. However, people-pleasers often experience a profound sense of shame and insecurity that makes this desire to be liked become an intense, unwavering need. Feeling liked or accepted is a critical part of their identity. The idea of someone becoming upset or confrontational feels terrifying.
People-pleasers also tend to receive praise and validation for their kindness and generosity. This ego boost can create a false sense of worth. You start to believe that your self-esteem is contingent on how you provide and support others.
Identify Your Core Values and Boundaries
What kind of relationships do you want to have with others? Moreover, what type of relationship do you want to have with yourself? How does your people-pleasing block or even prevent you from living an authentic life that’s congruent with your core values?
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be generous and compassionate. In fact, this is a great goal!
However, healthy relationships have a mutual sense of reciprocity. If you’re always the one who’s giving and giving and giving, you’ll start feeling angry and disrespected. However, by continuing to say yes, you’re only reinforcing the notion that this dynamic is acceptable.
Practice With The Easier Boundaries
People-pleasers are terrified of saying no. They don’t want to hurt the people they love. They don’t want to cause a commotion and so they often jeopardize their own happiness if they think it will benefit the other person.
Boundaries are essential. They preserve your morals, dignity and values. An inability to say no represents an inability to honor what you want in this life.
When learning how to be more assertive, many people assume it needs to be an all-or-nothing approach. However, this isn’t true. Like most skills, you’ll need to practice setting boundaries many times before you start feeling more comfortable.
Think about safe people or situations where you can start saying no. For example, it may feel insurmountable to say no to your boss right now, but what about telling your partner that you don’t want to go to that dinner party because you already made a commitment to yourself to stay home and rest?
You don’t need to give a lengthy explanation for your reasoning. In fact, providing too many details or making excuses can backfire. If people know that you often give in easily to their demands, they may search for loopholes in an attempt to manipulate you.
Accept The Pushback
When you start setting boundaries with others, some people will resist the change. After all, you’re threatening the status quo. They may react by becoming passive-aggressive or hostile. They may even turn up the charm, asking you for just that one small favor.
Remember that you have the power to choose the relationships in your life. Healthy people don’t want to deplete you from your resources and mental energy. Healthy people don’t try to walk all over your boundaries.
If you’re finding yourself battling with someone, it may be time to reflect on the role you want this individual to have in your life. You are not obligated to tolerate disrespect. Likewise, you have the right to expect respect in your relationships.
Letting go of people-pleasing may entail letting go of some relationships. However, by releasing the excess toxicity, you make room for healthier interpersonal connections.
How Therapy Can Help You Be More Assertive
Even if you know how to be assertive, some barriers may prevent you from implementing such skills. For instance, maybe you’ve experienced profound trauma that’s influenced how you perceive standing up to others. Perhaps you struggle with anxiety, and you find even the notion of setting boundaries overwhelming.
Regardless of your circumstances, therapy can help you tap into greater confidence. The more confident you feel, the more likely you are to honor your needs.