Do you often find yourself saying “yes” to every request, fearing the disappointment of others? Are you the go-to person for taking on more work, even if it means sacrificing your own well-being? If you nodded along, you might be a people-pleaser, and you’re not alone.
People-pleasing can be a noble trait, reflecting kindness and thoughtfulness.
And that is how most people perceive it.
However, it can also come at a high cost, especially when it leads to burnout.
According to Debbie Sorensen, a Harvard-trained clinical psychologist based in Denver, people-pleasers are particularly susceptible to burnout, especially in the workplace. Their innate desire to be accommodating and avoid conflict often prevents them from setting boundaries, and this can have detrimental effects on their mental health.
So, how can you spot the signs of people-pleasing and protect yourself from burnout? Let’s explore the issue and some strategies for breaking free from the people-pleasing trap.
3 Signs People-Pleasing Is Taking a Toll on Your Mental Health and Career
- The Constant “YES”
Can you do this task? YES. (Even if you are massively loaded with your project)
If you often take on more responsibility than you can comfortably manage because you’re afraid of disappointing someone, your people-pleasing tendencies could push you toward burnout.
This is often why you feel more overwhelmed, tired, and unable to finish the most important tasks that could move you forward to your goals.
The impulse to overcommit is typically a well-intentioned but possibly dangerous tendency because it is rooted in the fear of disappointing people. It arises from a desire to be helpful and sustain healthy relationships, yet it might unintentionally set off a burnout trajectory.
You can find yourself on a relentless path of chronic stress, emotional weariness, and probable burnout as you keep piling on tasks to avoid disappointment or disagreement. All of these things can have a negative impact on your mental health and general sense of fulfillment in life.
- Ignoring Your Feelings
It is a major red flag when people-pleasing tendencies are present when you ignore your own emotional responses when faced with upsetting circumstances in order to prevent confrontation.
We call it, “self-sacrificing behavior”. This is holding back your real feelings and worries in order to prevent upsetting others.
However, this emotional self-neglect can have a significant negative impact on you, leaving you emotionally spent and cut off from your own emotions. It’s similar to holding your inner turmoil inside, which over time can cause more stress, anxiety, and sometimes even resentment.
- Unrealistic Commitments
Another clear sign is a tendency to frequently accept unrealistic assignments just to meet others’ expectations. Don’t get me wrong. This is far beyond the project management system.
Let me give you some real-life samples:
- When a person asks you to finish a 1-month range of projects for only 1-2 weeks without enough resources.
- When accepting other commitments and in exchange with time for yourself and loved ones.
- Having multiple roles in a big project or doing it all by yourself to be praised by people.
It reveals a deep-seated drive to live up to expectations set by others and win their acceptance, frequently at the cost of one’s own well-being.
Over time, this tendency to overcommit and work tirelessly to achieve impractical goals can be damaging, primarily leading to extreme tiredness on your end.
Your energy, motivation, and general quality of life take a hit as a result of this never-ending loop of aiming for impractical goals, which ultimately jeopardizes your own health and productivity.
Don’t worry, you can break through this and prevent being overwhelmed, stressed, and burned out.
Let’s dig in …
How to Break Free from People-Pleasing and Avoid Burnout
The journey to overcoming people-pleasing and preventing burnout begins with setting boundaries. Here are some strategies to help you on your path to self-preservation:
- Pause and Reflect
When tempted to take on more responsibilities, pause, and ask yourself if it aligns with your goals and priorities. Resist the knee-jerk reaction to say “yes” to everything. You can ask yourself these questions:
- Is this aligned with what I wanted to achieve?
- What does my calendar look like to have enough time for this new responsibility?
- Will this compromise the things I really give importance to such as my family and health?
- Protect Your Energy
Instead of viewing saying “no” as a reflection of your self-worth, consider it as a means to protect your energy, goals, and priorities. It’s about being an effective employee without compromising your well-being.
Saying no can be:
- Let’s revisit this next time
- This isn’t the best time for this
- I’m not the best person for this project
- Embrace Time Off
Remember that time off from work, in any form, is crucial. Whether it’s resisting working after hours or taking a longer lunch break, prioritize self-care. We all deserve the time and space to recharge.
- Have fun during a weekend or go somewhere after work
- Bond with the best people that boost your energy
- Go to places and pamper yourself
- Take well-deserved breaks during the day!
As a result, freeing oneself from a cycle of people-pleasing is a long journey that may occasionally flop, and that’s entirely normal.
In order to protect your mental health and nurture your work fulfillment, it’s critical to refrain from self-criticism during this transforming process and instead focus on the beneficial adjustments you’re making. While having a tendency to think about others is admirable, your own mental and emotional well-being should never be sacrificed.
You can effectively escape this sneaky trap by learning to spot the obvious indications of people-pleasing and honing the ability to create and uphold boundaries.
Remember that saying “no” means saying “yes” to priorities like your goal achievement, family time, and self-care.
Let me remind you, that you are indeed kind and thoughtful. There’s nothing wrong with that!
But living your life drained just to fill other people’s cups isn’t the right thing for you.
Do you want to know how to get started setting boundaries that won’t hurt you and your career? Let’s talk.