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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

What to do in the moments when you just want to give in

Since I was a little kid I’ve been called “the peacemaker.” I hate conflict, I hate watching others have conflict and I will essentially do everything I can to avoid it. While in general, this is a pretty positive trait, it does come back to bite me as I am constantly thinking about how everybody else is feeling. This is an exhausting task, because not everyone is always going to be happy! This is a fact I have had to face, and the only way I have been able to get through it is by reframing the way that I think about people pleasing. 

Most people think of people pleasing as someone who neglects their own needs in order to give someone else what they want. This could be as simple as eating somewhere you don’t like because your friend likes it, but it can also go as deep as refusing to tell someone when you are hurting out of fear that it will cause conflict. The fear of someone being upset is so real and can be the guiding force in a lot of the decisions that I make. While I genuinely don’t mind eating somewhere I don’t like if someone else does, I do mind suppressing my feelings. After years of constantly fearing that something I do, say or choose will anger someone, I had to ask myself, how can I change this? Now I wish I had a one-size-fits-all solution for you, but I don’t. However, I have made some mindset shifts that have made my life, and people pleasing tendencies, a lot easier. 

The first tip goes out to all the people who constantly think someone is mad at them. This is probably my worst anxiety. Here is what I tell myself when those nagging thoughts come up: I am not a mind reader. If someone is mad at me, they will tell me. No joke, I repeat this to myself at least once every couple of days. We’ve got to realize that it is not our responsibility to constantly seek out what everyone else is feeling. If someone is upset with you (which let’s be real, they probably aren’t) they will tell you! If they don’t tell you, it’s none of your business. You can’t be blamed for something you didn’t know. Another thing I often ask myself in these moments is, where’s the evidence? My therapist taught me this one, and it is so helpful in those big, anxious moments when you think someone hates you. If you ask yourself this, most times you will find there is nothing there. Just remember, you can’t make a claim with no evidence!

Next up, thinking someone just doesn’t like you. Maybe there is someone in your life where you just get that feeling they’re not your biggest fan. This can be a hard one to swallow. But the reality is, you don’t like everyone either. We aren’t meant to click with every person we meet; that’s just not how it works. Sometimes, you just don’t vibe with someone. This doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. When I feel this way and want to rabbit hole into all the things I need to fix about myself, I remind myself that I don’t like everyone, why would every single person like me? 

Finally, the overarching issue of people pleasing: giving up what you want in order for someone else to have it. I don’t believe that this is always a bad thing. We all sacrifice certain things for people we care about. This becomes an issue when you feel like you have to make sacrifices, but you don’t actually want to. When I’m trying to work up the nerve to actually have an opinion, I remind myself: this person cares about me, they will not be angry that I have a voice. Anyone who truly cares about you wants you to stand up for yourself and doesn’t want you to suppress anything. And if someone gets mad at you for this, they are not someone you want in your life. This doesn’t mean there won’t be conflict. But here’s my last reminder: conflict is not inherently bad. People disagree and argue and move on all the time. It is okay for there to be disagreements and bumps in relationships. The only way there will never be conflict is if no one is ever honest. 

People pleasing plagues my life daily. It is a daunting task to actually have an opinion or do something someone doesn’t want me to do. However, I know that those who care about me and love me wouldn’t be angry at me for doing what’s best for me. It is easy to get sucked into the anxieties of people pleasing, like worrying if someone is angry or thinking someone hates you. While I think being the peacemaker is a title I’ll keep for the rest of my life, I don’t plan on living a life where I don’t have a voice. 

Mckenna Laurent

Wisconsin '25

Mckenna is a Junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is studying English literature. Along with being a section editor for Her Campus, she is a Senior Coordinator for the University Tutoring Service. Mckenna loves reading, baking, and watching New Girl!