Being a "People Pleaser" Will Destroy Your Assertive Potential

If you’re anything like me, you’ll do whatever it takes to make sure the peace in your life is well-maintained. And I get it! Being assertive is hard!



For example, if there’s any type of conflict in the friend group you’ll solemnly nod along and say, “yeah you’re right,” even if you know they aren’t, just so the fighting will stop and the tension will ease.


At work you’ll bend over backwards for your coworkers, feel genuine guilt when you can’t comply, and beat yourself up over the smallest of complaints. I mean, it’s justified, too. You’re trying your best! You’re trying to make everyone happy!


School is worse because you don’t want to pester. You WANT to ask your professor to repeat what he just said because you got lost halfway through a vague explanation. In a panic you look around the room at the perfectly content faces of your peers and softly pray that one, ONE person didn’t understand the problem as well. However, when the daunting silence continues to fill the room you decide you should let the professor continue. I mean, if everyone else gets it, you should too. And if you ask for him to repeat himself that’s going to waste everyone else’s time. I mean, it wouldn’t waste yours. But that shouldn’t matter, right?


Are you reading what’s wrong with the above scenarios? Why do other people’s emotions come in first? Why do I have the “everyone else is okay, therefore I am okay” mentality?


It's Toxic.

If the incorrect people see that I am someone who will do everything for them, they will take everything from me. Such has happened in friendships, relationships, even the workplace. If people know that I am willing to do anything in my power to make them satisfied WITHOUT worrying about myself they will therefore take away all of their happiness from me, and leave me with nothing.

Fortunately, a good support system, and decent human beings, wouldn't take such advantage of a situation. However, bad people do exist, and it's all the more reason to keep a guard up.


It's Emotionally Taxing.

It’s one thing to be there for emotional support, but it's an entirely different thing to take someone's problems as your own. And if you’re anything like me, more often than not you’ll find yourself fixating on how to make this person happy instead of hearing them out. Unless it is a problem that directly affects you and the other person, being someone who takes the responsibility of fixing someone's life so they won’t have to isn't always beneficial.

You also leave yourself vulnerable. If you’re nothing but there for someone, you expect them to do the same. However, they don’t always do what they’re supposed to do. Instead of support you receive judgement or scorn for your own life or how you help others. And in the end you don’t benefit, you just feel torn down.


You Feel Used.

At the end of the day, after all of these supposed good deeds, there’s simply no way to win. At the end of the day everyone else is okay, but you’re left feeling burdened, used, or generally dissatisfied. You lie there in bed, exhausted, confused, overwhelmed even.


At some point a backbone needs to be grown. At some point you need to put your needs before others. I remember after an emotionally taxing day during my senior year of high school, someone told me, “okay get up and go eat now that we’re done crying. You can’t help others unless you help yourself first.”

And she was right. I can’t help anyone until I’m feeling 100%. If I’m energized and feeling good then I’ll use more of my capacity to help others. Even if that means I have to say no every once in a while.


I know what you may be thinking. How can I be assertive without being a bitch?




Short answer, it's tough. But very possible. 


The first step; getting a good support system.

Of course a queen can rule alone. It is more than possible to be completely by yourself and also maintain that philosophy of being an assertive boss. However it's always beneficial to have the right kinds of people in your life to help you through life stages you wouldn't otherwise be able to handle alone.

Whether it's your mom, your best friends, or your cat, everyone needs a figure to look toward that's not themselves for support.


That being said, you have to cut the toxic people from your life.

You probably already have someone in mind, too. Yes that's the one. The one who's always negative. For every accomplishment you have they have three setbacks ready to fire at you. They'll tear you down to help themselves feel better, they'll use you for whatever resource they don't have (money, food, a car, what have you). But when it comes time for you to need something they'll magically be busy, or they'll treat your problems like a chore. If someone EVER uses terms like “draining” or “annoying” or “constant” to describe your venting about your problems, drop them immediately and never look back. If you feel like less of a person when you're around them, tell them to leave your life. If they make fun of you constantly to a point where you're always feeling insignificant, drop them. Negative people are abundant, and they're absolutely toxic to the people that can't say no. There's a reason why everyone else left them behind. Their life is NOT your responsibility, you have NO obligation to keep them around because they would have no one otherwise. Because chances are they see you as a quantitative friends rather than a qualitative one. So just be aware of who your real friends are. If you suck the metaphorical poison from your life you’ll feel so much lighter you'll question why you even let them in.


Set goals. Stop at nothing to achieve them.

Got an exam? Looking for that promotion? Needing to get your life together in general? Set goals and stop at nothing to get them in your grasp. Nothing says assertion like using pure momentum to help yourself feel better. So make lists, little ones for each day whether it's listing off your chores or your longer term “on the radar” goals, nothing feeds the self esteem quite like being able to check things off of that list. In the end you feel more accomplished and driven to do more for yourself.


Most importantly, maintain a good headspace.


Don't let other people drain your energy. Do what you need to do to feel badass. People are more respectful toward people that know their limits and have a strong mindset. Know your own limits and know when to say no and when you can add something to your plate. Carefully analyze how people in your life treat you and determine whether or not it's really worth it to keep them around. Keep your goals and achievements closer to yourself than any distant friend-quaintence and make it a goal to keep your head held high and your charisma held higher.


The old expression “fake it till you make it” has its truth. If you can't actually have the confidence, pretend you do. Watch Clueless and Gossip Girl and keep watching until you turn into Blair Waldorf herself.

But more importantly, hold your mental health higher than any of the pressures people try to force on you. Know deep down that your own mentality and your own health should always come first. Your REAL friends will forgive you when you can't drive them somewhere. Your coworkers will not hate you when you can’t (or don't want to) cover a shift. And in the end, you will benefit from learning how to put your limits into practice.