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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug. 9, 2002
    Location
    Fairfax, VA USA
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    5,776

    Default Anyone else suffer from the "disease to please"? Is there a cure for this,

    other than just going Postal at some point??

    A good friend suggested that I "VENT" about this under an alter when we next had an Off Topic Day, but what the hell, I am going to lay myself out, complete with COTH screename. It's not like I'm admitting to adultery, or past felonious behavior (well, not in THIS thread!), and I suspect that I have a lot of company.

    Does one just man up and grow a set, or instead stew in one's own juices, rant to friends, go to counseling, drink oneself into oblivion, clench and grind one's teeth (guilty), have chronic stress and back pain, go through life stifling one's opinions, being taken advantage of, and building up anger and resentment? Putting one's own needs (and the needs of one's family) on the back-burner because one is so busy doing WAY over the top extra and often unnappreciated stuff for others, at the expense of *any* free time, one's health, one's disposition, and one's sanity, is (um) kinda nuts, is it not? Should people like us just "let them have it", speak our piece, assert ourselves (even if they don't like it, and don't like US as a result), and let the chips fall where they may?

    Surely there is a happy medium , but this is often difficult to achieve for people pleasers, who are compulsively helpful and who feel guilty when we don't give 150% of ourselves to others, all the time. Guilt is the engine that drives me. I live in fear of letting people down, and of their censure. I have finally (with my husband's help) started putting my foot down more over the past 10 years or so, and being more direct with people. It seems to work pretty well, but I still find myself hesitant to speak up and set limits, more often than not.

    I don't want to spend the rest of my life exhausted and resentful, because I feel that my true calling is helping others, but I often feel like I am losing myself in the process...I can't just tell people to "F*ck themselves", and that's not who I am anyway. (Though I do fantasize about what I would say to *certain* people if I were diagnosed with a terminal disease. They would FINALLY get to hear the thoughts and opinions of them that I have been choking back, all these years...)

    Anyone have any suggestions, commiseration? Anecdotes? Anyone *actually* act on their rageful fantasies, so posting from their prison cell??
    "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

    "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar. 30, 2007
    Location
    Hollowed out volcano in the South Pacific.
    Posts
    12,065

    Default

    It's really no way to live. People will just take advantage of you (you and I both know this, I think) and God forbid, your stress level and mental state eventually gets to the point where you're doing nothing but causing problems for those around you, especially your family, by trying to please those whose importance is dubious at best. I've seen it first-hand and usually it's a by-product of low self-esteem or a need to make yourself feel needed/wanted/useful or a simple desire to be doing something. Whatever the case, you need to take things easy and not let people take you easily for their own benefit.
    Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec. 4, 2005
    Location
    washington state
    Posts
    10,140

    Default

    I have the opposite issue LOL!! There is a good medium, being able to help and encourage without being a doormat (you) and declaring war (me). It's hard to find but the main thing, the BIG MAIN thing is that thinking you deserve something from reaching out and helping will always lead to disappointment, resentment and anger. Figuring out that just because I helped does not mean someone owes me a change in behavior or even a thank you is a work in progress.

    Learn to say no. Like this (say it out loud. DO IT). "Oh, no, I won't be able to -----, thanks for asking though". No explanation. They push then say "Oh, I'm sorry, I thought I said no, I did mean to say no, is there anything else you wanted to talk about?"

    I have a huge set, you're welcome to borrow some if you give me some of your kindness
    The Knotted Pony

    Proud and upstanding member of the Snort and Blow Clique.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct. 10, 2009
    Location
    CA > KY
    Posts
    138

    Default

    Yes, the cure is to have a parent dying of a terminal illness and a family member melt down with a serious mental health crisis. In about one minute you realize your priorities, act intentionally, insist on boundaries and release control of the outcome. There you have it in a nutshell.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep. 12, 2009
    Posts
    546

    Default

    Hey, you just described me to a "T"!! Over the past few years I've learned a little bit how to say no to someone but it's a constant battle and right now it's usually only little things I put my foot down about, like not wanting to go out on a certain night or other things that aren't earth-shattering. The guilt is a big thing and I would probably agree with the low self-esteem issue. I'm definitely one who very much wants people to like me and I've always been the peace-maker in the family (third child of four and the only girl) and the one who will do anything not to rock the boat. It's hard, but I'm learning! So you definitely have company on this one. Just keep at it!!!
    It's not about the color of the ribbon but the quality of the ride. Having said that, I'd like the blue one please!



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2005
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    9,762

    Default

    Learn to have your automatic response to requests for your time, your money, and your property be NO! You can always change that in the future if it's something you really want to do, but many people will take advantage of you endlessly if you let them. No is a complete sentence, said firmly allows no argument, and if someone persists they are just trying to use you. And NO means to cosigning anything (if the bank doesn't trust them then they don't need money or things from you), no lending property (it will come back broken if at all), no letting people force you into giving sales parties, advertising for them, or working their event free.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2004
    Posts
    7,017

    Default

    Stop being a VOLUNTEER!

    Nobody makes you help them, there's no requirement that you must always "be there" for anyone but your family. Realize, "Family" is your wife and children....not your mom, sister or uncle, they're "Relatives"...and it's not even required you help your non-minor children through life's challenges.

    A simple, "No thank-you" is sufficient. You don't need to make excuses, whine or lie...just say, "No thank-you" and be prepared for the guilt buttons to be pushed. The opposite of choosing not to help is NOT "Go F*ck yourself"...the opposite is, "No thank-you" said cooly and without malice. You don't hate them, you just are not going to be their minion. If they keep trying to push the guilt button, then you can escalate your responses: No, Hell No! and upwards...but keep it civil, just don't do it.

    No one's true calling is helping others. Who installed that bone in your head? You look after yourself first, then your family. You don't "owe" anyone else. No matter how much they want/need/desire/demand your help. It's not your responsibility.

    Grow a set, a backbone while you're at it read: "Becoming a Vertebrate for Dummies"
    "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2005
    Location
    Spotsylvania, VA
    Posts
    13,906

    Default

    A neighbor recently made a rather large mistake regarding property boundaries. We could have fixed it, at cost to ourselves. We said NO though my heart wanted to say YES.
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    44,481

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by carolprudm View Post
    A neighbor recently made a rather large mistake regarding property boundaries. We could have fixed it, at cost to ourselves. We said NO though my heart wanted to say YES.
    Learn to tell the difference between HELPING where you can and ENABLING where you are being taken advantage of.

    You may not always get it right, but with more experience, you will get very good at feeling which way the wind is blowing, if you are willing to help, or find yourself too busy to do other's bidding.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug. 9, 2002
    Location
    Fairfax, VA USA
    Posts
    5,776

    Default

    In my case, it's less a case of "not saying no" than it is giving too much of myself. I teach and coach lower level eventing, and am always going *way* above and beyond, for every one of my students. (Since I do this P/T, I guess I have that luxury...) I feel like I need to give them my time and energy in order to give the best "quality of service" I possibly can, and prepare and train them as thoroughly as possible; I do NOT charge extra for all the extra time and effort, and it often burns me out (though I love what I do, and I derive a great deal of deep satisfaction from doing such a comprehensive job of teaching and mentoring, always giving that extra part of myself. It is also necessary (on a business level) to offer a unique service since I teach in an area which is FILLED with ULRs and trainers, all of whom are available to teach many of the same students!

    This is what burns me out, since if I charged for all of this, my students couldn't afford me! (I do have elderly parents, one with chronic health issues and cancer, I have my own chronic pain issues, so let's not go there with my "setting priorities". ;-/)

    I am the type of person to open doors for others, follow the rules, go out of my way to try to be considerate (and worry about the consequences of what I say), try not to offend, keep my opinions to myself when OTHER people offend (instead of blasting them), and attempt, at all times, to remain tactful and positive and not make other people uncomfortable. This wears on me, since in our society (especially in the area where I live) rudeness, a sense of entitlement, and "me first-ism" is pretty rampant. I hold a lot in, and am not sure how to change this in a healthy way. Part of it is "just who I am", part of it is how I was raised.

    drawstraws, I think you hit the nail on the head (putting your foot down with little things being the extent of "boat rocking" that I want to do )

    Again, other than "learning to say no" (and I have actually been thinking about this since I first started this thread, so thanks for the kick in the rear, other posters ), how does one reconcile the frustration of reflexively and automatically "always being Ms Nice Guy" in a world full of users, with a legitimate growing resentment? If this is part of who I am (at my relatively advanced age, LOL), how do I change without being untrue to myself?
    "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

    "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan. 27, 2008
    Posts
    286

    Default

    Find a good counselor and work on the issues that are driving this behavior! You've identified several of them, guilt, need to please, not wanting to "rock the boat", etc...so now you have to figure out how to work through them to get to a healthy place.

    My mom went through this and is still working on it (at 54) over the last few years. She told herself all of the same things you do, she loves caring for others, her purpose is to help people, etc. But the flip side of that coin is the resentment, anger and frustration that come from not be acknowledged in the way you think you "should" be for all of that effort.

    Not to mention, and this is big, the NEGLECT you are showing YOURSELF and your FAMILY. What sort of an example are you setting for your husband/children(if you have them)? You are demonstrating to them every day that you and they are worth less than every random stranger/client/acquaintence/distant relative in the world. Because you will drop everything to help those people while putting your needs and your husband and children on the back burner!

    What another poster said about Enabling is very true...do some research on that and co-dependance! This cycle has got you trapped and you have taken a huge step forward by recognizing it, now you have to do something about it!

    The sad truth kicking around in your head somewhere is that you "help" others because you want them to reciprocate with praise and thanks to you, thereby making you feel needed/wanted and loved. You have to take the big step and realize that you are lovable just for being you, whether you say yes or no. You are worthy just for being you and anyone who doesn't get that is NOT worth your time or effort!

    That doesn't mean you can't do things for others, but you might need to go back to the other extreme for a while and learn to take care of yourself and then your immediate family. And also that saying "no" is empowering and freeing because it gives you the choice to do what you want in your life without always being jerked around by everyone else!

    I'm starting to sound like an infomercial for this, but I recommend the book Inner Bonding, there is a website and counselors who use this method. It's been incredibly helpful to me...my issues are kindof the opposite, having been raised by a mom like you, I don't really want to give anyone the time of day! But I think the method is extremely valid for many many issues.

    Good luck, you can do it! And it's worth the effort!!



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar. 3, 2007
    Location
    North-Central IL
    Posts
    5,056

    Default

    You know, the first few times you say "No" it's kinda scary. After that you realize the world doesn't indeed end and it starts to feel pretty good. I have a friend that owes me $1500 because I couldn't say no (it involved her kids). You know what? She found the money elsewhere. And eventually quit asking. You are worth no less than anyone else, treat yourself as such. That doesn't mean you can't help people or you shouldn't be polite, but it's really ok to say 'No' sometimes.
    Quarry Rat



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2005
    Location
    Spotsylvania, VA
    Posts
    13,906

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mosey_2003 View Post
    You know, the first few times you say "No" it's kinda scary. After that you realize the world doesn't indeed end and it starts to feel pretty good. I have a friend that owes me $1500 because I couldn't say no (it involved her kids). You know what? She found the money elsewhere. And eventually quit asking. You are worth no less than anyone else, treat yourself as such. That doesn't mean you can't help people or you shouldn't be polite, but it's really ok to say 'No' sometimes.
    LOL, SIL wanted to come over for Thanksgiving dinner so (unwillingly)I said OK. I won't go into her behavior, but a week or so later she said she and her DH had no where to go for Christmas and could they come over. I said "It's YOUR turn"

    The look on her face was PRICELESS.

    And then the excuses started....your house is bigger, I can't drive to the supermarket because of my DWI...She did weasle out of about half the work but I considered it a victory none the less. And she hasn't asked since
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar. 3, 2007
    Location
    North-Central IL
    Posts
    5,056

    Default

    Ha, I used to hear from my 'friend' no less than once per day. I've heard from her twice in the past couple months, and once was to beg for money and a ride. I don't have as many friends anymore, but I have more free time and money. Oh well.
    Quarry Rat



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov. 8, 2001
    Location
    Cambridge, IA
    Posts
    1,678

    Default

    OP, You are getting some great advice here.

    One thing that jumps out at me in your posts is that you might be thinking any sort of non-committal or resistant response has to be over the top. For instance you say "...keep my opinions to myself when OTHER people offend (instead of blasting them),..."

    There are ways to confront people about their bad behaviour or rude comments without having it be confrontational in the perjorative sense. My vet is a star at this. I have seen people say rude things near him and he just pauses and says, "Zat so?" with a bit of a grin. Usually the person gets the verbal half halt and shuts up. It seems if they don't get it he figures he'd be wasting his breath trying to educate them where their mammas already failed! Ha!

    A friend of mine will also use "Oh, honey, do you know you said that out loud?" if a rude comment hangs in the air. Clever way to mildly embarrass someone who doesn't know enough to be embarrassed autonomously.

    Regarding saying no, I have a bit of that problem. I jump in and help organizations mostly, but I needed to tail it back. What helped me was envisioning exactly what I DID want to accomplish rather than letting challenges find me. Sort of like "giving at the office" rather than donating to every flyer that comes in the mail. I decided I wanted to ride my own horses, spend time with my husband and dogs and do a specific few things for organizations. Having a vision for my time and energy has helped me prioritize impromptu requests for my time and energy.

    I hope this helps. I think you are brave to ask for help.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar. 4, 2007
    Location
    Western Washington
    Posts
    3,016

    Default I have a refrigerator magnet AND a tee shirt that say

    "Stress - what happens when your gut says 'No' and your mouth says, 'Of course, I'd be glad to'"

    You all laugh about this, but know this is correct.

    I used to be really over-booked. And then I discovered the power of saying, "gosh, I'd really love to, but just can't. Thanks for thinking of me." No one has to know that I can't because I'm out riding my horse, but no one feels I've been rude to them. It works for me.

    The more you practice it, the easier it is.

    good luck.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul. 14, 2000
    Location
    midwest
    Posts
    10,812

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by stryder View Post
    "Stress - what happens when your gut says 'No' and your mouth says, 'Of course, I'd be glad to'"

    You all laugh about this, but know this is correct.

    I used to be really over-booked. And then I discovered the power of saying, "gosh, I'd really love to, but just can't. Thanks for thinking of me." No one has to know that I can't because I'm out riding my horse, but no one feels I've been rude to them. It works for me.

    The more you practice it, the easier it is.

    good luck.
    This.

    A good friend is the pleaser to her husband, adult daughters, co- workers and extended family. She ends up with no recharge time and resentment towards others. It is not healthy for her but she has got to learn to speak her mind for herself.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2005
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    9,762

    Default

    Life is too short to get stuck with doing things for others that you don't want to do. I just say "NO" when confronted with something that I don't want to do, don't have time for, or really don't want to support. It takes practice, and it's not easy to do, but you'll love the amount of time you have for your interests when you aren't being used by other people.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2005
    Location
    Spotsylvania, VA
    Posts
    13,906

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JanM View Post
    Life is too short to get stuck with doing things for others that you don't want to do. I just say "NO" when confronted with something that I don't want to do, don't have time for, or really don't want to support. It takes practice, and it's not easy to do, but you'll love the amount of time you have for your interests when you aren't being used by other people.
    I think what started my backbone development was a call from the "room mom" when my kids were in elementary school that went something like
    "Hi, we need 60 cupcakes for tomorrow and we know you don't work so we figured you will be able to bake them"
    To which I replied
    "Are you out of your flippin mind? I'll call the supermarket and order them and you can have one of your working moms pick them up on her way home."
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.



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