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Last Updated on December 8, 2020

5 Warning Signs That You’re a People Pleaser

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5 Warning Signs That You’re a People Pleaser

Do any of the following sound familiar?

You cringe at the thought of saying no. You obsess about what others think of you and whether you’re doing something to make them dislike you. You live your life based on the opinions of others because you are deathly afraid of disappointing them.

If you say yes to all of these, you are likely a chronic people pleaser.

It’s hard not to struggle with people-pleasing at one time or another in our lives. As social beings, it’s in our nature to get along with others; our survival and success depend on it.

However, there is a fine line between healthy social behavior and the experience of emotional depletion caused by chronic people-pleasing.

In addition to being emotionally drained, you may find yourself compromising your principles and values in order to be accepted. As you help others to get what they want, your own health and well-being will suffer.

As a recovering people pleaser myself, I’ve observed these five common signs of chronic people-pleasing and some ways to overcome it:

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1. You’re Incapable of Saying No

Do you find it painfully hard to turn down the requests of family, friends, and even acquaintances or strangers?

You really want to say no, but instead, you say yes to their various demands.

Before you know it, you’ve become the go-to person when something needs to get done. From the small to the large, you take on every task. You may even be considered a hero to some.

On the inside, you’re suffering. You genuinely want to help others, but you also know that you are depleting your own resources with every “yes.”

You may fear that you’ll lose your friendships and good reputation by saying no. After all, the last thing you want to be called is selfish.

Solution

First, realize that your capacity to care for others and your capacity to care for yourself are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the two are intimately related.

Second, understand that you are not responsible for the happiness of those around you – they are. Let these two realities give you permission to say no. Start practicing with small requests. Refuse kindly and without apology.

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2. You Avoid Making Decisions or Sharing Your Opinions

Do you have a hard time voicing your opinions and feelings in a group setting or with close friends? Do you constantly allow others to make decisions for you?

You understand a deep truth about decisions and opinions: they divide. However, it’s not in your nature to cause division by speaking up, so you remain silent to avoid conflict.

Over time, this behavior is deadly, because as you defer to the opinions and decisions of others, you are silencing your own voice. This will rob the world of your unique perspectives and gifts.

Solution

Remember that you can disagree without being disagreeable. People can have divergent opinions and still treat each other with respect and kindness. So give voice to your thoughts, concerns, and needs.

By speaking up, you may rock the boat. You may even be outvoted. But if you treat others with respect, they will respect you even when they disagree with your opinions and choices.

3. You’re Crushed When You Discover Someone Doesn’t Like You

This is a hard one. It seems reasonable to assume that if you go out of your way to please everyone, then everyone will like you. But it’s not true.

Some people will dislike you simply because of who you are or for reasons outside of your control. You understand this intellectually, but you cannot stop trying to win the few holdouts.

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Solution

Closely examine your desire to be liked by everyone. Did this originate in your childhood, as you tried to win the affections of family members or friends at school?

Use tools such as reflection, meditation, and counseling to help you let go of past negative experiences.

As social beings, we need to be loved and accepted – but not by everyone. Decide whose love and affection is worth the effort and whose is not.

4. You’re Resentful of Others but Are Not Sure Why

This often happens when we suppress our feelings and needs over the long term. Do you feel unexplained anger toward your close friends, spouse, or boss?

The anger is your subconscious telling you that you have been neglecting yourself while helping others advance their goals. Think of this resentment as the “check engine” light turning on in your car. Don’t ignore it.

Solution

Face the truth of what is going on in your life. If you’re feeling overextended or taken advantage of, acknowledge these feelings. Avoid second-guessing yourself. Find time for self-care, and make this a priority.

5. You’re Unaware of How Far You’re Willing to Go – Until You’re in Over Your Head

This is a sure sign that you lack proper boundaries. You avoid setting limits because you believe this runs counter to having a generous spirit. But this simply allows people greater latitude to intrude into your life.

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The requests may become more and more unreasonable, and you may not realize it until someone has crossed the line. If you’ve taken on too much, you may experience passive-aggressive behavior, crying for no apparent reason, anxiety, or depression.

Solution

Be willing to admit that your time and energy are limited, not because you’re selfish, but because it’s the truth.

Boundaries are simply a recognition of that truth. Do not be afraid to set your boundaries and enforce them. It will take a while for you and others to get used to it, but you’ll experience an increased sense of well-being, and people will learn to accept your limits.

Learn to set boundaries for good: How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries.

Final Thoughts

You can be generous without allowing yourself to be used. You can be kind without being a pushover. You can be well-liked without having to sell your soul.

Don’t allow your fears and insecurities to turn you into a chronic people-pleaser. Instead, make time to please one of the most important people in your life: you.

Why? Because when you care for yourself, you can care for others out of the abundance of your own well-being. You will do this not because you are afraid of losing their affection, but simply because you want to. You will experience true freedom.

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So decide today to give yourself the same love and attention you give to others. This is one decision you won’t regret.

More Self-Care Tips

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

More by this author

Cylon George

A spiritual chaplain and blogger who writes about practical spiritual tips for busy people.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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