Not so long ago, I was guilty of trying to please everyone.
I’d go out of my way to make people happy. I’d accept invites to events I didn’t want to go to. I’d feel guilty for not doing those little favors for friends and family, so I did them.
And what happened?
Well, as you might imagine, I found myself overloaded.
But worst of all, I was pleasing no one, least of all myself. As I learned the hard way, trying to please people is actually a recipe for people taking you for granted.
Today, we dive into five habits that were preventing me from being truly valued and appreciated.
They might be holding you back, too.
Let’s get to it.
1) Seeking constant approval
This was one of the toughest habits I had to kick.
I was a chronic approval-seeker. Craving validation and approval from others was like second nature to me. But in my quest for appreciation, I realized this constant need for validation was doing the exact opposite.
Diving into Stoic teachings, perhaps surprisingly, really helped with this. I still occasionally come back to Marcus Aurelius’ words on this:
“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.”
The Roman Emperor may have penned these thousands of years ago, but they remain as relevant as ever.
When we’re constantly seeking approval, we’re not being our true selves. We’re molding ourselves to fit someone else’s expectations, often at the expense of our own happiness.
If there’s one thing to take from this post, it’s that there’s an important distinction between being liked and being valued. When you seek approval, you’re aiming for the former. But when you’re authentically yourself, you earn the latter.
So, instead of bending over backward to gain approval, I started to embrace my authentic self. And guess what?
The appreciation followed.
It wasn’t an easy transition, but it was a rewarding one. Letting go of this habit allowed me to experience genuine appreciation from others and, more importantly, from myself.
This is not just about refusing to be a people-pleaser; it’s about valuing your own worth and understanding that your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.
And trust me – when you start doing that, life becomes a whole lot more fulfilling.
This is another habit I was particularly guilty of. Saying “I’m sorry” had become so ingrained in my communication style that I barely noticed it anymore.
For instance, there was a time during a team meeting at work when a colleague pointed out a minor error in one of my projects. My immediate response was to say, “I’m so sorry; I’ll fix it right away,” even though the mistake was a collective oversight, not just my own.
This knee-jerk apology, meant to smooth over the situation, actually diminished my contribution to the project and placed undue responsibility on my shoulders.
A simple “Thank you for pointing that out; we’ll make sure to address it,” would have sufficed. This approach not only maintains professionalism but also reinforces a sense of shared responsibility within the team rather than placing undue blame on oneself.
Over time, however, I began to understand that assertiveness doesn’t mean being aggressive or confrontational; it’s about expressing oneself clearly and respectfully without undermining one’s own worth.
It’s about stating your perspective or addressing an issue directly without prefacing it with an apology, especially when one isn’t warranted.
Apologizing unnecessarily doesn’t make us more likable or appreciated. In fact, it often has the opposite effect. It can undermine our self-confidence and make us appear less assertive.
So, I started practicing assertiveness.
Kicking the habit of over-apologizing didn’t just improve my communication skills; it strengthened my self-perception and the way others perceived me too.
3) Saying ‘yes’ to everything
Do you ever find yourself automatically saying ‘yes’ to almost every request, favor, or invitation? Do you deep down fear that a ‘no’ might make you less likable?
I was once in the same boat, constantly stretching myself thin in an attempt to be everywhere and do everything for everyone. I thought that I would make me liked and appreciated.
But all it did was leave me exhausted and unfulfilled.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown was a game-changer in this respect. It taught me the importance of narrowing my focus and only saying ‘yes’ to what truly matters.
Anyway, I started practicing saying ‘no’ to things that didn’t align with my priorities, and guess what?
It was more liberating than I could have imagined.
By breaking free from this people-pleasing habit, I discovered that I was not only more respected but also more appreciated. Now, when I do say “yes,” people actually appreciate it. And when they do ask for a favor, they give me much more notice.
As an added benefit, it feels like I have more hours in the day.
Here’s the deal: saying ‘no’ can be tough, but remember – your time and energy are precious. When you start valuing them, others will, too.
4) Ignoring your own needs
Picture this: You’re grinding through your to-do list, meetings are back to back, and the concept of a decent lunch break seems like a distant memory. Your energy is depleting, but the demands of the day push you to keep going.
The notion of “self-care” might come across as a bit soft. At least, it used to seem that way to me. When I heard this phrase, I’d think of manicures and such. I thought it was an unnecessary indulgence.
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Self-care is not just essential; it’s non-negotiable for sustained success.
As noted by the National Institute of Mental Health, “When it comes to your mental health, self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy.”
So, what does self-care look like?
It can be as simple as taking a 10-minute walk to clear your mind, meditating for a few minutes each morning, enjoying a hobby, or even just ensuring you get a full night’s sleep.
These acts of self-kindness recharge your batteries, giving you the strength to face challenges head-on.
You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others.
5) Suppressing emotions
A big reason some of us suppress emotions is because we don’t want to burden people around us.
Or at least this was a big reason I did it. I would put on a brave face, even when I was hurting inside.
However, suppressing emotions isn’t healthy or productive. It doesn’t make us strong; it just makes us feel isolated and misunderstood.
And according to experts such as psychologist Victoria Tarratt, it can even have physical effects. She has noted:
“Suppressing your emotions, whether it’s anger, sadness, grief or frustration, can lead to physical stress on your body. The effect is the same, even if the core emotion differs,”
One study conducted at the University of Texas even suggests that suppressing our emotions can cause us to be more aggressive.
So, how do we deal with this?
Well, I started by actively acknowledging and expressing my emotions rather than hiding them. Journaling played a big role here. As a writer, I am more comfortable getting my thoughts on a blank page before speaking to anyone.
Even still, it was uncomfortable at first. But it quickly became liberating.
Letting go of this habit didn’t just make me feel more understood; it also led to deeper and more genuine connections with others.
It’s okay to feel. Your emotions are valid. When you express them honestly, you’ll find that people will appreciate your authenticity and vulnerability.
The bottom line
Being genuinely appreciated starts with valuing yourself and setting healthy boundaries.
Ditching these nine people-pleasing habits can free us from the cycle of seeking external validation and lead to authentic relationships and self-respect.
True appreciation comes when we are our authentic selves, not when we’re stretched thin trying to please everyone else.
As always, I hope you found this post valuable.
Until next time.
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