Bowing to others is what happens when we make “pleasing” a priority. Capitulation may satisfy someone else’s needs, but not necessarily your own. There are times however when we simply have to put ourselves first. “No” is a difficult word, especially for those who’ve made a career out of appearing “nice.”
What about being ‘nice” to ourselves, and putting other peoples’ concerns in perspective? Interestingly, Leman suggests that our propensity to be self-effacing varies by birth order, with onlies and first borns taking on more than their fair share – and performing a disproportionate share of the work. Our short span on earth necessitates prioritizing.
If the tables were turned, would the person in question be helping you? Would he/she be as generous with their time, resources, and advice as you have been with them? Cut lose individuals who see you as a means to an end, and get some true friends. Your time can then be freed for things you find pleasant (instead of appearing as another person’s sideshow). The possibilities for filling the void are vast.
The following questions may help you decide if you’re serving yourself, or simply catering to someone else:
- Is the other person getting more benefit from the activity than you? It’s fine to do favors, but not when you feel pressured, and certainly not when there’s a persistent lack of reciprocity.
- Have you each contributed to the pool of ideas, or is a subset of these being dictated to you? If none of the alternatives sound good, there’s a high probability you’re being shanghaied.
- Do you feel unease with how a matter has been resolved? Your intuition may be revealing you’ve received a raw deal.
Pleasing may turn into a way of life. When looking back (when it’s too late to do otherwise), you may find that you’ve missed opportunities because you were too busy looking out for the interests of opportunists.