To Be a People-Pleaser Means You Tolerate Too Much Guilt

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“Self-care is never a selfish act. It is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.”

–Parker Palmer

It’s not selfish to make yourself a priority. However, so many of us have a hard time thinking of putting ourselves first without associating it with being selfish. For many years I put other people before myself, thinking that was the “right” thing to do. However, that way of thinking needed to change in order for me to make the necessary changes in my life to be more attuned to my needs. I was able to change my perspective by shifting my idea of what it meant to be a good person. I knew that being a good person couldn’t mean that I would have to feel guilty all of the time when considering doing something for myself.

Part of the process of changing my mindset around selfishness was re-framing my idea that giving myself just as much value as others would be bad for my relationships. When learning that, gaining a strong sense of self, by making time for yourself, is better for your relationships that is when I started to feel less guilty about thinking of my needs. Self-care, connecting with your authentic self, and being present for yourself is not being selfish, but self-full. This is because you are thinking about you, what you need, while still keeping in mind other people. This means being in relationships without losing yourself, without carrying other people’s baggage, and acting based on what benefits you first. If that idea makes you feel uncomfortable, you probably associate a lot of guilt with bringing your needs to the forefront.

Feeling Guilty, if left unresolved by aiming to please, can create stress, anxiety and a loss of self. I get it. I’ve struggled with feeling guilty for most of my life, even when I knew I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I especially felt guilty around people being disappointed with me or disapproving of my actions. That pushed me to say yes to things I didn’t want to do.

For people pleasers it’s especially hard to say no. It is amazing to see your friends, family, and/or boss happy, but when you start to do more for others and ignore You, you’re not serving anyone. Saying yes because you feel obligated shouldn’t be the driving force in your decision-making process because this will eventually weigh you down. Here are some tips on how to live without guilt:

1. People can ask you for help, but you don’t give up your priorities to help.
2. You depend more on your logic to make a decision than on emotional impulses to please.
3. You depend on the mature aspects of yourself to nurture the child who seeks approval within.
4. You are in charge and take control over your life.
5. You make your own decisions without relying on others or being fearful of what they’ll think of you.

The hardest part of putting yourself first is taking action without letting guilt stop you; after that it’s just a matter of consistently staying with your new habit of you being your number 1. Once the momentum has been created, the process just gets easier. Instead of waiting for something or someone else to allow you to be self-full, give yourself permission to do it. Discover what you want in this world, and go out and get it.

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Talk soon,

Dr. Ilene

Article edited by Dr. Denise Fournier


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