Do you ever actually pay attention to the in-flight safety presentation when you’re on an airplane?
I know you’ve heard it a billion times before, but do you actually remember the details?
Well, one of those details always caught my attention.
While it always seems like such a little thing, I always wondered why they even had to bother telling people. That is until I realized that it was a perfect metaphor for something that so many people actually do in life.
I’m talking about the part where they say something like:
“In the event of a cabin decompression, oxygen masks will fall from the panel above your head. Pull the mask toward you and slip the elastic over your head. Breathe normally. Be sure to adjust your own mask before assisting others.”
That last part is the important bit.
It’s just like in regular everyday life when people put other people’s needs before their own.
But, to use the metaphor, if you don’t take care of your own mask first, you could seriously endanger yourself and your ability to help others.
So, for your own good, if you put other people’s needs before your own, you need to stop doing these eight things.
1) Being a chauffeur
“Hey, do you mind giving me a lift?”
“I’m almost on your way, right?”
“Could you pick me up from the airport?”
You might have some pretty hot wheels, and you’re looking for reasons to show them all over town.
Or you might just be a normal person with a car whom other people like to get free rides from.
But while some of these can be genuine favors, other requests like these will really make you go out of your way. That last one is a huge ask.
You should really be best friends of blood brothers to even dare to ask someone to get you from the airport!
Here’s the thing about being an amateur chauffeur: if you keep saying yes, people will continue to ask you for rides.
Eventually, though, it will probably drive you crazy. Gas isn’t getting cheaper, and your valuable time will keep getting eaten up if you can’t put a stop to this!
2) Never DJing
Not everyone wants to take on the incredibly somber and serious responsibilities of DJing at a party or little house get-together.
In the past, if you were at a friend’s house, you could listen to the radio or choose from their CD collection (am I dating myself here?). But these days, nearly everyone has streaming service subscriptions or, if not, we can all work YouTube and a Bluetooth connection.
So, what’s your excuse now for never DJing?
Oh yeah, I know.
Let other people listen to what they like.
Your music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, right?
I feel you, but why not put on a track or two anyway? Share what you like and let other people get to know you.
At least take a turn on the turntables rather than always letting other people have a go!
3) Going places you don’t like
Why do you always end up going to places that you’re really not interested in?
My partner often invites me out to a restaurant that I really don’t like, and every time, I turn her down. I guess it’s nice to be invited, isn’t it?
Even if it’s a place where the food is terrible and they play music you can’t stand.
So she went with her friends, and I did something else.
I went along with her several times in the past, and each time, I mentioned that I really didn’t enjoy the experience. She tried to assure me that things would be better next time, but they never changed.
I’m glad she likes the experience, but I don’t.
Sometimes, you have to stop going to places you don’t enjoy or don’t feel comfortable, even if it seems like it will disappoint others.
4) Doing activities you don’t want to do
Getting dragged along to do activities you’re not a fan of is no different.
If you’re always doing this, it’s time to put a stop to it.
I totally understand why you want to make other people happy and go along with what they’re doing.
If you were even just neutral about the activity, that might make sense. They want you to go, and it doesn’t bother you, so no problem.
But if you’re going along to do things that you actively don’t like, you’re hurting yourself in the process of trying to put other’s needs first.
5) Never saying no
Most of these situations we’ve looked at are tied to an inability to say no.
This is an issue that most people-pleasers have.
They want others to be happy and content all the time, so they end up not creating or enforcing their own boundaries.
So what happens?
People constantly push right past them.
They’re asked to help out or do things they don’t want to do or don’t feel comfortable with, and they fear disappointing others. So they don’t say no and end up getting burdened with tasks they can’t handle and taken advantage of.
6) Keeping your opinions to yourself
Look, it’s great that you want other people to feel happy and free to speak their minds.
But does that mean you always have to clam up and say nothing if your opinions differ from theirs?
If you never express yourself, you’re essentially repressing your own thoughts and ideas – the things that makeup who you really are.
And if you continue to deny your true self in this way, it will eventually affect your self-confidence.
You’ll lose faith in your own ability to make conclusions and form valid opinions.
And you certainly won’t get any practice expressing yourself either.
Then, when it comes to a time when you feel it’s extremely important to voice a certain opinion you hold, you’ll find yourself struggling to do so.
7) Covering for others
Covering for people at work or in their private lives is one of those awful things that users like to ask people-pleasers to do for them.
They might say things like, “Clock out for me at work today. I need to leave early,” or “If my girlfriend asks, tell her I was with you.”
It’s one thing to help others but quite another to let them use you to their advantage.
When people ask you to cover for them, they’re pulling you into their lies and dishonesty without caring about the effect that has on your morals.
It’s extremely selfish, and if you help them, that makes you complicit in their subterfuge.
Not really fair to anyone, is it?
8) Doing other people’s work
I used to teach English as a second language to children, and let me tell you, I’ve encountered some pretty strange parental behavior in my time.
But nothing really tops Pancake’s mom.
Yes, first of all, she named her kid “Pancake.” I mean, yeah, cute name, but… !?
The really funny thing that Pancake’s mom did is that many times, I would check the student’s homework books and recognize some very clear, precise adult writing in one of them.
You guessed it – Pancake’s mom was doing her homework for her.
Now, I didn’t want to jump to conclusions or anything. But Pancake was a bright and capable enough student, and she could write in English, so I was baffled.
I had to get a meeting with the mom to find out what was going on.
When I did, she admitted that she had put Pancake in lots of afterschool tutoring and activities, and the poor thing was worked out. So, on days she was too tired to do her homework, her mom did it for her.
This sounds like a selfless, caring thing to do… until you consider the purpose of the homework I was giving her. It was relatively easy stuff that didn’t have any bearing on scores.
We only had two classes per week, so the homework was there to serve as a reminder of what we’d done in class.
So, while Pancake’s mom thought she was helping by getting the blanks filled, the point was for Pancake to actually do it to help her retain what she’d learned.
This may have been lost in translation, but I started to see less of Mom’s handwriting after our chat.
In most cases, doing other people’s work for them like this doesn’t really do them any favors, nor you!
If you put other people’s needs before your own, you need to stop doing these eight things.
They’re stomping on your boundaries, compromising your morals, and ignoring your own needs.
Wanting to help others when you can is an absolutely incredible part of your character, but it shouldn’t also have to damage you.
While you clearly have a lot of empathy, don’t forget to direct it toward yourself from time to time!
Lost Your Sense of Purpose?
In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.
Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.
Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.
With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.
Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.