Ah, the people pleasers. Moms sometimes make the best ones because it ingrained in us to take care of others. What we don’t realize it that there is slippery slop between taking care of our family and trying to please everyone. The question becomes how moms can stop being people pleasers.
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Unsurprisingly, people pleasing comes from not having strong boundaries and self identity. You try to please others for the kudos or likability that will come from it. That is how you know that your identity is being defined by others instead of from within.
Stop giving that power to someone else. If you always look to others for validation that you are worthy, lovable, and valuable you will live in a state of perpetual disappointment. If you haven’t already read How to Love Yourself First and How to Set and Protect Boundaries as a Mom, I highly recommend you go back and read them. These concepts all build on top of each other and you can’t solve one without solving the others.
Common People-Pleasing Traits of Moms
There are multiple traits to look out for if you believe you are, or are in danger of becoming, a people pleaser. You can read more about them all here. For the purposes for this article, I want to call attention to a few of the traits and how they manifest specifically for moms.
Apologizing a Lot
This is one we do all too often. We apologize for things that we literally have zero control over. Has your child ever come to you complaining that they don’t feel good? What is your first response? “Oh, honey, I’m sorry.” It is a situation that you didn’t cause and that you are likely even trying to fix for them, but yet we say we’re sorry.
We qualify it in our mind that we’re “sorry they feel that way” but that is not the message we are sending. Try replacing that with, “Is there anything I can do to help you feel better?” This still conveys our love and empathy without assigning any ‘blame’. Other common examples include:
- I’m sorry we can’t hang out, the kids have soccer games, hubs is working overtime… etcetera etcetera.
- I’m sorry I didn’t get the house cleaned today. The kids were being wild and crazy all day long.
- I’m sorry we can’t do dinner tonight because it’s a school night.
In all of these examples, does the message not get across if you take out the words, “I’m sorry,”? No. Furthermore, you shouldn’t be sorry. This goes back to maintaining your boundaries. Even if your friends don’t agree with your boundary on not going out to dinner on a school night, they still need to respect it. It is nothing to apologize for.
You Can’t Say No
This is another red flag that moms fall prey to and again, it goes back to boundaries. When you don’t have any boundaries, it feels impossible to say no even when you want to. Here are just a few examples this occurs in mom life:
- You agree to attend an event that you don’t want to go to, sometimes making an excuse to not attend later.
- You join the PTA because you’re a SAHM and you feel guilty saying no.
- A friend asks you to make all of the decorations for their child’s party and you agree even though you don’t want to do it.
All of these examples have one thing in common. You didn’t want to do them. There is nothing wrong with joining the PTA at your child’s school. It’s great but only if you truly want to do it. If you don’t actually have the time or energy, you end up more stressed, drained, and overwhelmed.
The same goes for making birthday decorations. If you love being crafty and doing that kind of stuff for fun (and have the time available to complete it), awesome! If you only agree to it because you ‘feel like you should’ it will have the same damaging effects.
Not Speaking Up When You Feel Hurt
Another trait of people pleasers is that they don’t speak up when they’ve been hurt. That’s because they are not strong enough in their identity to feel valid in their emotions. Your emotions are there for a reason. Love yourself enough to trust in them. Some examples might be:
- Your friend criticizes your new makeup even though you love it but you don’t say anything.
- Hubs gets an invite to go to a concert with friends and asks to reschedule date night and you say, “Yeah, sure.”
Neither of these incidents need to get turned into a fight but you can still vocalize your feelings. For instance, you can respond to your friend that you love your new look and that it hurts when she criticizes it.
Let your husband know that it makes you feel like you aren’t a priority when he cancels plans with you to hang out with friends. If your friend or husband continue to do these things after you have explicitly stated how they make you feel, then ask yourself, who’s really the jerk in that situation.
- Again, this applies only if you feel hurt and don’t vocalize it. If you don’t care what your friend thinks of your makeup and it’s no skin off your nose, by all means, ignore it. If your husband cancels date night, and you’re like, “Sweet, I can binge watch some Buffy in my sweats,” then no big. It is about knowing yourself and your boundaries well enough to make that distinction.
How Moms Can Stop Being People Pleasers
All of these examples are great, but how do you actually stop being a people pleaser? You start by building the foundation of self esteem and self love that you have lost. That’s where this all builds from. Of course, that’s not the only step but it is arguably the most important. Here are the steps to take to stop being a people pleaser:
Start with Knowing Yourself
I say this a lot because it’s such a good analogy but, calling a minivan a sports car doesn’t make it so. That is the epitome of where you need to get with knowing yourself. (Read How to Love Yourself First)
Set Clear Boundaries and Enforce Them
Once you know and love yourself, it is much easier to set strong boundaries in all areas of your life. (Read How to Set and Protect Boundaries as a Mom)
Learn to Say No With Grace
Learning to say no when you’ve said yes for so long definitely takes practice. That’s why I love Spiritualish podcast episode 14. They give you word for word scripts to use in a myriad of situations. All of them are respectful and clear.
Don’t Give Excuses
First of all, giving excuses tells the other person and your subconscious that you feel you need one. Furthmore, it give people ammo to try and change your mind. “As soon as you start explaining, you give the other person lots of wiggle room to come back and say, ‘Oh, you can do that later,’ ‘You can adjust your schedule’ or ‘That’s not as important as what I’m asking.’” (Source)
It is important for us to learn how moms can stop being people pleasers because it helps us stick to the truth of being caregivers without giving up the power over our identity. It is for you alone to decide your worth, happiness, and value. Instead of being afraid of that, revel in it.
Where else in the universe is somethings value not determined by outside sources? No where. People determine the value of books, food, gemstones, nature, and more but no one determines your value. That can only come from within and when you think about it that way, it’s pretty awesome.
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I’m a nerdy, crafty mom of three adorable little kids. I love writing and creating, but in my non-existent free time I also love karaoke, taking my kids to the zoo, and reading. I got my degree in Science (no idea how that happened) but I took every English class I could get my hands on because, yeah, I’m that girl.