Have you ever found yourself in the middle of explaining your reasons for not doing something, or apologizing for not being able to oblige someone else's wishes with your heart beating, and sweat building on your forehead? You can feel their disappointment, and it feels awful. If you're speaking to them the look on their face, and skillful interruptions may guilt you into caving. If it's a text based interaction the breathing space may allow you enough room to escape the guilt enough to stick to your convictions.
If any of that sounds familiar, you may be a people pleaser, or perhaps just someone who is socially gullible in a sense. Maybe, a good mixture of the two.
There's a lot of ways a person can arrive at the role of being someone who falls prey to pushy people who tend to take advantage
. Having harsh critical parents who denied us decent boundaries as children is one strong way. Another is being a passive person by nature that is perhaps a little introverted. Recognizing why we get taken advantage of isn't nearly as important as recognizing the behavior itself, and knowing how to turn the situations around.
I think there is a difference between a person making a reasonable request of us, and someone who knows they are inconveniencing us. It's okay to tell a friend that we can't help them move this weekend, because we have already promised to do something with someone else that can't be rescheduled. That is hard for a people pleaser to do, but we can do it. It will make us feel uncomfortable, but we have to learn to not only say no, but differentiate the uncomfortable feelings of a legitimate request, and one in which the person is aggressively seeking a yes from us at all costs.
The kind of request where we need to look out for is the kind that makes us feel defensive. The favor being asked of us makes us feel uncomfortable. We might even ask our other friends if they think the request is valid. It is usually one that seems kind of extreme, but makes the person who is being asked the favor of as if they're just being petty for thinking twice about it. Deep inside we know we're being taken advantage of, but we're afraid of the negative consequences of standing up for ourselves. Most of all, we're afraid that we're wrong, and it is us who is being petty. For a people pleaser that is the worst thing to be.
The next time you find yourself in a situation like the one that was described at the beginning of this post simply remind yourself to pause, and keep it simple. A simple "I can't" or "I have other plans that day" or so many other ways to say no without the explanation. You don't owe everyone an explanation for your every no. If they're making you feel like you do, then you don't need to worry about their feelings as much as worrying about your own. People who respect you will respect your space, and honor your answers without pushing, and twisting.