Putting myself last all the time made me feel important.
I enjoyed giving and serving others, even when my energy was depleted. I said yes, even when my heart loudly said no. I helped others, even though I needed help badly.
After decades of emotional burnout and mental confusion, I realized that not honoring my heart’s desires had slowly wreaked havoc on my life. When I felt disappointed with myself and choices, I vowed to stop taking myself for granted and give myself a break when I needed one.
It’s a beautiful and virtuous thing to serve. However, not knowing when to draw the line has detrimental consequences that can negatively impact the quality of our life. We may not know it at first since the praise and validation we get from people pleasing make us feel accepted and loved.
Personally, it took me many years to realize that I don’t have to accommodate everyone’s needs to feel worthy and loved; my worth doesn’t depend on how others see me. How do I see myself? Do I love myself? Do I accommodate my own needs? Do I say yes to me?
If you struggle with people pleasing, please know you’re not alone. You may know the ugly consequences of overgiving but you’re afraid to stop.
Here are four warning signs that overgiving is wreaking havoc on your emotional and mental well-being, and it’s time to stop:
1. You feel guilty when you say yes. You might have said yes to a meal that you don’t want to have, a date you don’t want to go on, or a project that you know will burn you out. Whatever it is that you have reluctantly accepted, you might feel disgusted by yourself. Shame and guilt are hallmarks of people pleasing, and if you constantly struggle with them, it means overgiving has been emotionally exhausting you.
2. Decision-making becomes harder and harder. When we alter our entire routine to please others, we slowly lose sight of what we really want, which ultimately makes it more difficult to make healthy choices that make us happy. Constantly saying yes to others and no to ourselves drives us away from our purpose and depletes our mental strength.
3. Your relationships suffer. The connection we have with our families, friends, colleagues, and partners has been clearly deteriorating, but now it’s starting to look one-sided. When we give too much, we might feel we’re not getting the same in return, so we harbor resentment and shame and might blame the other person for not reciprocating our actions.
4. You develop a fear of rejection. When we say yes to everything and everyone, we spend a lot of time worrying about being abandoned, rejected, or disappointed. So we please more and give more because it makes us feel safe. The more we give, the more others might cherish us, and…the less they might reject us. But being repeatedly scared and worried can emotionally knock us out and throw us off balance.
As a recovering people pleaser I know how challenging it is to draw healthy boundaries and trust ourselves. Seek help or support if you’re not sure where to start. Treasuring our self-worth and finding where it begins is an arduous journey, but a beneficial one nonetheless.