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In many cultures, girls are raised to be people pleasers - to think of others’ needs first, and to neglect their own. Many women have at least some degree of people pleasing in them. Men who identified with their mothers often do as well.  

People pleasers’ focus is mostly on others and away from themselves. They often feel empty, or don’t know how they feel, what they think, or what they want for themselves. But it’s possible to change this pattern and to feel better about yourself.  

I managed to learn how to break out of this cycle. You can do the same thing if you see yourself in the above description. You want to know how? It’s easier than you think! 

First, practice saying NO. This is a very important word! Say it as often as you can, just to hear the word come out of your mouth. Say it out loud when you are alone. Practice phrases with NO in them, such as, "No, I can’t do that" or "No, I don’t want to go there". Try it for simple things first, and then build your way up to harder situations.  

Stop saying YES all the time. Try to pause or take a breath before responding to someone’s request. You may want to answer requests with "I need to think about it first, I’ll get back to you" or "Let me check my schedule and call you back". Use any phrase that you feel comfortable with that gives you time before you automatically respond with YES.  

Take small breaks, even if you feel guilty. You won’t always feel guilty, but most likely in the beginning you will.  Remember that your mental health is well worth the aggravation you may have to take from others. What’s important is you. When you are healthy, those around you will be healthy! 

Figure out what gives you pleasure. For example, you may like reading magazines, watching videos, going to a park, or listening to music. Give yourself permission to do those things and then enjoy them.  

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