What To Do When You’re A People Pleaser

Learning How To Say Nah

Q: People ask me for help a lot. I say “yes,” even when I feel like I’m overextended. How to I say “no” without sounding like a jerk?

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A: First, you have to abandon the idea that saying “no” to a request is rude. It can be, certainly, if it’s accompanied by a crude gesture or a punch in the face or something. But simply declining to do something is not an impolite action.

Awesome Advice: I'm a People Pleaser Help Everyone

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The need to help anyone who asks, even if it leaves no time or energy left to the person helping, can be tied to enforced gender roles. Women learn early on that they should be easygoing and giving and that asserting their own boundaries doesn’t align with those qualities. It’s up to all of us to dismantle that idea. I hope that you’ll continue to be as generous as possible. We all should be. But if helping a friend rearrange her bedroom furniture (not an emergency) prevents you from studying for a test (that one is a little more timely), then you can and should decline. If you’re harboring guilt for it, talk it through with someone and let it go.

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Awesome Advice: I'm a People Pleaser Britney Stress

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It’s credited to so many people that it’s impossible to know who coined it first, but one of my favorite sayings is, “‘No’ is a complete sentence.” There are cases, of course, where “no” has to be accompanied by a reason. But I try to apply that saying internally. If I can’t do something, I won’t make excuses for myself in my own head. I trust my own judgment and hope to be in a better position to help the next time.

Awesome Advice: I'm a People Pleaser Kanye No

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If you need advice, ask your question in the comments, and it may be featured in an upcoming column.

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Sage Young
Sage Young

Sage is a Film and TV Writer for Bustle and a freelance recapper for Entertainment Weekly. She also shares her ongoing love affair with pop culture and fandom culture on her personal entertainment blog, Head Over Feels.