How I'm Learning Not To Be A People Pleaser

My search for meaningful connection

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I always feel the need to go out of my way to please others. Not only that, but when it doesn’t work out in the way I’d hoped, I’m really hard on myself. I feel bad that I’ve let someone down or upset them, and go to great lengths to avoid such situations. Know the feeling?

That’s why it’s so important to include this area in my connections project, and especially in this month’s theme of setting boundaries. If I want to have authentic relationships with others this is a key aspect I need to work on.

With that in mind, I was recommended a book to help with this called ‘The Curse of Lovely: How to break free from the demands of others and learn to say no‘ by Jacqui Marson.

Here are three things from Jacqui’s book that I found most useful and will be attempting to apply to my own life:

1. Change the word ‘should’ to ‘could’ – Rather than saying to myself something along the lines of ‘I should do what my friend has asked me to do’, I will change this to ‘I could do what my friend has asked me to do’. This makes it a choice rather than a strict rule which I must stick to. As Jacqui explains, there is nothing wrong with some ‘guidelines by which to lead your life, but when they become rigid they have a tendency to become a cage in which you feel trapped’.

2. Learn how to give a ‘gracious no’ – As I’ve explained, I find it really hard to say no to others because I worry I’ll be letting them down. But Jacqui provides a way of doing this in the book which is called ‘the gracious no’. In very simple terms she describes this as firstly thanking the person for asking (or thinking of) me, giving the refusal in a polite but clear way, ending with some good energy by providing a positive follow-on, and finally, closing the conversation before the other person tries to change my mind!

3. Think about what [insert name] would do? – This involves identifying someone whose assertiveness I admire and then asking myself what they would do in a certain situation, and trying to take a step towards doing this myself.

I’m going to try and use some of these techniques in a safe and controlled way to see if they help me become more authentic in my relationships with others. My hope is that they will help me towards my goal of doing things that I really want to do, rather than doing them only because I’m worried about what others might think of me, and therefore help me connect better with both myself and others.


The Connected Outsider

I have always felt like an ‘outsider’ in life for a number of reasons, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realise just how many other women feel this way. I recently turned forty which has forced me to do something about this, and my blog posts tell the story about my search for meaningful connections – not just with other people, but also with myself and even the world around me.


Go to the profile of Annette Hogan
over 5 years ago
From today onwards I am going to try and live my life in the way you gave described below. I always worry about saying no to people and end up going places and doing things I don't enjoy!! What you have written makes so much sense to me as always
Go to the profile of Sam Bragg
over 5 years ago
Sounds like a great book that you found. Might be something worth buying myself. So much easier to agree and please others than say no and please ourselves. At which point I agree with what you say that the wonderful inner bitch takes over and starts beating ourselves up about a wrong decision. Thank you.