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But what about me? How to stop overpromising and people-pleasing

People-pleasing behavior leaves you stressed and burned out. On the other hand, saying “no” makes you guilty. It’s a vicious cycle. The good news is that you can break free! Here’s how to stop overpromising and people-pleasing.

Why we overpromise

We sometimes promise to do more than we can to make others like us. We think people like us best when we work hard for them. It makes us promise too much, even when it's beyond our capacity. Here’s what people pleasing and overpromising look like:

  • Agreeing to an unrealistic project

  • Picking up a friend’s call when you're super busy

  • Saying “yes” to every invitation, even if you get nervous in social situations.

In the process, we ignore our limits and what we need. Either we complete the task with resentment or give up entirely. Both ways, it's not good because it causes doubt and shame. But we want to do better next time, and the cycle repeats.

Hence, it's essential to talk about our needs and limits early on. We should set boundaries from the beginning to avoid over-promising.

How to Stop Overpromising

Taking control of your life is easier said than done. Here are some tips to help you get started.

1. It’s not evil to say “no”

We often feel the urge to say yes because it's connected to positive emotions like love, support, and care for our dear ones. Yet, there are times when we can overwhelm others with these emotions in social situations.

It's essential to remember that saying no is also acceptable. Internalize the idea that you remain a good person even when you decline an invitation. Practice this mindset until you truly believe in it.

2. Be honest with yourself

Secondly, don't do things just to impress others or make them like you. Instead, focus on what you believe is right for you. If someone asks you to do something that doesn't feel comfortable, stand up for yourself.

It shows that you have the strength to make your own choices. You don't have to constantly please others; instead, stay genuine and people will admire and respect you for it.

3. Sleep to clear your mind

Sleep is critical. Not getting enough sleep makes it hard to make good choices, and making too many promises is also not a good choice. Try to make a habit of sleeping for six to eight hours every night. Eat healthy, exercise, and plan your days and weeks.

Also, remember to have time for yourself, your family, and others. Not only will it clear your mind, but also help you build confidence.

4. Don’t respond immediately

For people who often try to make others happy, it's critical not to answer immediately.

When someone asks you for something, your first answer should always be: "I need some time to think."

You can explain that you must check your schedule and to-do list or talk to your partner. Do whatever helps you get some extra time. Then, you'll have time to think about it and send a polite "no" through email or text if you decide not to do it. It is much easier than saying no in person. Plus, it gives you time to make the best choice.

5. Balance vs. priorities

Moving on, life doesn't always have a perfect balance. Some things matter more than others. To figure it out, you should be self-aware. Knowing what's important to you, not just what others think is crucial. Once you know your priorities and the people you want to be with, it becomes simpler to say “no” to things that don't fit in this schema.

6. Keep your reflexes in check

Before we wrap this guide, please understand that we are not asking you to say “no” all the time! It’s just that when you agree to something, you’re doing it for the right reasons and not impulsively. Is your “yes” filled with guilt or anxiety? If yes, apply point 4. Until you get some composure.

7. Quit making excuses

Finally, when you stop finding reasons to avoid things, you'll have more time and energy for things you like. You'll feel more in charge of your life and less like you're controlled by what others want.

If you always come up with reasons why you can't help when someone asks you to do something – like saying "Sorry, I can't because..." – it can make your work and personal life unbalanced. It can make you tired and stressed. Also, people might use your kindness too much, which can be frustrating.

Instead of making excuses, try saying no directly. If they ask why, you can tell them you're focusing on your growth and need time. Hardly anyone will get it the first time, but if you are persistent, it will become a (healthy) part of your personality.

In short, if you promise too much and fill up your schedule, you're bad at managing your time. And once the time is gone, you can't get it back. Learn to say no, prioritize things, and inculcate healthy habits to enjoy fulfilling relationships.


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