BEING A PEOPLE-PLEASER

Pleasing Others at the Expense of Your Own Happiness- Is it Worth it?

Sometimes, I take inspiration for the content I write from the people around me. And this week, people-pleasers have caught my attention. 😉 


So today, I have some psychological insights on people-pleasers that I’d like to share with you.

Tell you what? Being a people-pleaser is a MINDSET. It’s not in your genetic makeup. It’s not a reflection of your Emaan or Taqwah. It’s not a psychological disease.

It’s a mere symptom of a larger underlying problem. And most of the times, that deeper issue is with the self-esteem
 
But how do you know what the underlying problem is?
By asking the right question of course- WHY do you want to please everybody? 

Here’s how most people-pleasers respond to that question:

“I just want to be a kind, selfless Muslim”. 

“I want to have a good AKHLAQ’ towards others”. 

Let’s just clear this once and for all- being a kind Muslim and being a people-pleaser is NOT the same thing. 

People-pleasing can be a seriously detrimental problem. If you’re a people-pleaser, s
ome of the reasons why you constantly want to please others might surprise you: 

• You feel the need to be needed by others (it makes you feel important)
• Your self-worth is attached to the validation you seek from others
• You don’t want to upset anyone by saying NO
• You don’t want to feel guilty of not “helping” others
• You fear that if you stop agreeing to others, and stop being at their disposal all the time, you’ll come off as uncaring and selfish
• You believe pleasing others is the way to pleasing Allah S.W.T

 If any of the above apply to you, you might be a people-pleaser. 


So think about it- why do you care so much about people liking you? Whether everyone is happy with you or not… why does it matter so much to you?

Regardless of the reason why, I have some powerful tips for you that can help you overcome the habit of pleasing people. 

6 TIPS ON HOW TO STOP BEING A PEOPLE-PLEASER:

1. Change the mindset:

  • Don’t confuse ‘being kind’ with ‘trying to please everybody’
Being kind is when someone is having mercy on those who are in difficulty and trying to help them out.

But when you try to please everybody, you go in with the mindset of solving every problem of everyone around you so they can be “happy” with you. And that doesn’t really work out, does it? You feel exhausted, overwhelmed and on the point of burnout and still, so many problems remain unsolved.

My grasshopper, you are not a vigilante. Stop trying to be one.

Your kind-heart can serve others in a better way.

When you say ‘Yes’ to everything anyone asks of you, remember that you’re saying ‘No’ to so many other things you could be doing in the moment- that includes Ibadah, as well as helping those that actually need your time.

  • Do you simply agree with everyone to prevent arguments and avoid conflicts?
I know you’ll agree with this- your opinions will not always be the same as other people’s opinions. In fact, usually it’s the opposite. And where there’s a difference of opinion, there’s room for conflict. 

So stop pretending to agree with everybody just to avoid conflicts. There’s a much better way to avoid conflicts that I’ll tell you about in a second. 

But know this first- when you agree to somebody’s opinion (even if you do so superficially to avoid arguments), you start losing your own voice and thoughts.

Your personality gets shaped by how others think instead of how you think. And that’s very unhealthy because it impedes your personal growth. 

Allah S.W.T blessed each one of us with a unique mind and a thinking heart. If you suppress the innate ability of your mind to create opinions, you’ll lose your voice. Your ability to contemplate will fade and you would easily be manipulated by others. 

With that said, it’s obviously a smart idea to avoid conflicts and stay out of arguments. And the best way to do that is by staying silent. You absolutely don’t have to agree with the opinions of everyone around you.

 

2. You are NOT responsible for the way others ‘think’ or ‘feel’ about you

Do you feel scared to voice out your opinions from the fear of “what will they think of me?”?

How many times have people around you gotten angry at you for no apparent reason? How many times people carry grudges over things you said that they perceived wrongly? Countless. It’s frustrating, but that’s the way it is.

Everybody is different. Everybody thinks differently. Some people always see the bad in others, yet others repeatedly choose to see the good in them. 

Obviously if you said/ did something hurtful to someone- you’re responsible for it. 

But for the remaining 90% of the time, you can NOT hold yourself responsible for the way people think about you. 

People-pleasers don’t understand that. They believe they can influence the opinions of others by doing things to please them. 

What they don’t realize is that no matter how hard they try, their efforts will always fall short. You know why? Because the harsh truth is- you can NEVER please everybody. 

Like I said, there will always be people around you that choose to see the worst in others. People who carry the disease of jealousy in their hearts. People who don’t want good for you

If Prophet S.A.W being the kindest, most truthful and helping person alive, had so many enemies who thought ill of him and wanted to harm him… who are we to believe that we can be angelic enough to please everybody? We can’t. And the good news is- We don’t even need to. 

 

3. Rely solely on Allah’s opinion of you

People-pleasers direct their energy towards ‘pleasing people’, correct?

And they tell themselves that ‘pleasing people pleases Allah S.W.T’, yes? What’s ironic is that it’s easier to please Allah S.W.T than it is to please people. 😀 

And when you direct your energy and efforts towards pleasing Allah S.W.T, He (S.W.T) puts respect for you in the hearts of others. 

People who don’t even like you will respect you.

So instead of killing yourself to make others around you happy, ask yourself ‘Am I doing this solely for the sake of Allah S.W.T?”. 

If the answer to that question is clouded with your ‘need to seek the approval of others’, don’t bother with that task. Because only the effort done SOLELY for the sake of Allah S.WT really counts.   

4. Detach your self-worth from the opinions of others about you

You have much more to offer to the world than living up to the expectations of others. 

When you attach your self-esteem to how others think of you, you’re practically giving them full control to hurt you with their opinions.

Accept the fact that you don’t NEED a good opinion from another to be a good Muslim.

People base their opinions on what they hear and see externally. But only Allah S.W.T can see inside your heart.

Which is why their opinions have a huge probability of being faulty.

So tell me, why should you unnecessarily hurt yourself and your self-esteem because of some faulty opinions? Doesn’t make sense.

5. Learn how to set boundaries without disrespecting others

One word can change everything for you and others around you. Boundaries. Not the halal/ haram boundaries.

Interpersonal boundaries.

Physical and emotional space.

Growing up in a Muslim culture, our parents were never really taught the meaning of the word “boundaries”. To them, having a ‘personal space’ and ‘creating boundaries with others’ comes under disobedience and disrespect. Quite the contrary to the original teachings of Islam.

So many examples from his life point toward the need for physical and emotional space because they are essential for personal growth.

Islam teaches us not to interfere with the matters of others.

The lifestyle of the Prophet S.A.W in Medinah was an example of respecting the privacy and physical space of others. Each of his wives had a separate ‘Hujra’.

When Bilal R.A. would call the adhaan, Prophet S.A.W would stop talking to his family and go to the masjid immediately to pray, regardless of whether his family needed him in that moment or not. 

We have grown up in a culture where there’s no respect for the physical space of a Muslim adult, let alone an emotional space. Just like our parents, we’re taught to tolerate each other in a tiny space.

Meddling in everybody’s affairs is misleadingly equated to being ‘caring’ and ‘considerate’.

But if you want to stop being a people-pleaser, you’ll have to start with creating boundaries with others. And yes, that includes family members.

Where there are no boundaries, anyone can surpass your emotional and physical capacity. 

People start misusing their rights on you and trampling over your personal needs while asking you for favors.

And when that happens, your original intention of pleasing others converts into resentment.

And that’s no Islam, my dear. That’s just a ‘need for the approval of others’ that’s been clinging inside you, making you too scared to say ‘NO’ from the fear of crossing them.

6. Practice the art of saying “NO”

NO is not always a bad word.

When someone asks you for something, if you have the time and energy to help them, go ahead. But if you don’t, know that IT’S OKAY to say no. It’s NOT HARAM. 😀

You and I are not perfect Muslims. We’ll never be. If constantly saying YES is draining you, Islam gives you the option of saying no.

Helping someone is considered a good deed in Islam. Not helping someone is not considered haram.

When too many people are pulling at your limbs, instead of blindly trying to do everything for everyone, prioritize them. Or else, you’d end up with no energy or time to do favors for those that truly deserve it.   

Saying NO doesn’t mean you say no to everything. Because that would, in fact, be selfish. Saying No simply means filtering your options.

Winding up, being a people-pleaser is a habit that’ll sooner or later- drain your time, energy and self-esteem to the point of burnout.

It does not bring you closer to Allah S.W.T because your intentions become clouded when you seek the appraisal of others for everything you do for them.

And now it’s time to rid yourself of this habit so you can grow closer to Allah S.W.T by helping those that truly need you. 🙂 

And Allah S.W.T knows best!

 

KEEP READING…

Founder & Author l Muslim Youth Programme
Aimen is a Medical Doctor who teaches self-development to young Muslims struggling with the fitnah of this century. Her aim is to educate and empower Muslims with practical advice on self-development, productivity, studies and health, with insights on Islamic psychology. Jumpstart your productivity and take action on your goals by signing up to her latest FREE productivity Bootcamp for Muslims.
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