How to stop people-pleasing and know what you want when someone asks you a question.
I noticed recently after setting boundaries that when I was asked a question and there was a pause, I was mindful of my thoughts. I noticed I looked at others around me and they looked at me too. I knew the person asking the question wanted everyone to agree with her right away. But I also knew I didn’t want to agree. She gazed at us, waiting expectantly, with a gleam in her eye. I noticed the other person glance at me before answering her and I felt a signal that he was waiting for me to speak first. So, I answered based on what I thought, which was, “No, we agreed we were doing something else.”
Reflecting on that incident, I realized that previously, I did not think I had a choice when others asked me a question. I always assumed I had to agree to what others wanted me to do or else I’d have to ‘face the consequences.’ Now that I have freed myself, I see that I have a choice when others ask me a question. I can say what I want and it’s OK. It’s actually more than OK. Speaking your truth is perfectly healthy and essential for self-care and creating authentic relationships with others.
Here are some steps to follow when someone asks you to make a decision.
A Practice in Mindfulness – Observe Your Thoughts and See What They Tell You
- Look away from others.
- Stop tuning into what is expected or what others want you to say. Notice those thoughts, but label them for what they are and let them keep passing by.
- Turn inwards to yourself. (Breathe.)
- Notice the impulses your body is sending you or the flashes of thoughts you hear.
- A ‘yes’ would feel very comfortable or even exciting. It might feel safe or natural. You wouldn’t have to think about a ‘yes’ or take time to consider it, unless there was an obstacle in your way.
- If you are considering it and there is no obstacle, you most likely don’t want to say yes to the other person. Maybe you just aren’t interested. Maybe you’d rather do something else. You don’t have to explain yourself to them but it’s good to know for yourself what your reasons are.
- Sometimes, it’s as simple as you’re not a vibrational match with the person. Maybe you just don’t have much in common with him/her. That’s OK too.
Now it’s up to you to speak your truth or do what others expect of you. Speaking your truth when it’s not what others want to hear can feel scary or maybe even wrong at first. Trust that your wants and needs matter too. And know that your voice is the only one who can speak your true wants and needs. You’re not responsible for others, only yourself. Try this once and see how free you feel afterwards.
If you haven’t been speaking your truth for a long time and then you start to again, you may suddenly feel powerful. Before when you felt you had to give into everyone else you may have felt weak or maybe even like you were a prisoner or a slave. Once you realize you have a choice, you’ll begin to feel empowered and free.
Depending on the event, if you can’t decide, it is best to say “No” and then if you change your mind later you can let the other person know at that time. Otherwise, if you are like me, you often say “Yes” and then have to cancel with what seems to the host/organizer as little notice. I notice people may get upset with those who cancel, but they’re less likely to get upset with those who can suddenly make the event, even if it is literally last minute. You may notice something else with your friends, but this is something I’ve recently consistently observed in others. So, don’t feel compelled to say “Yes” right away. Make sure you really want to and can commit before answering “Yes.”
This method is best for people who always say yes and then are scrambling to try to meet every obligation and forget to fit in time for themselves each day. Remember that your health is a priority. You need proper time for rest, recharging and rewards that are fun. Life isn’t always about duty. Our purpose is to experience and embody joy as much as we can and to do that we need to prioritize our self-care, rest, and fun!