The people in your life can support you or sabotage you in your healthy lifestyle pursuits, however, it is YOUR behavior as a people pleaser that is the threat, not your loved ones.
I asked around on social media about the obstacles people struggle with most when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. “Other people” showed up several times. I hear this a lot in my nutritional cleansing side hustle. You have a plan and then your sister says, “We’re taking the kids for ice cream. Do you want to come?” Or maybe it’s a co-worker inviting you out for drinks and all the happy hour food that goes with it. Some days it is your mother-in-law offering you her signature pasta dish. On any of these occasions, a people pleaser will give in so they can avoid hurting someone’s feelings
People Pleaser Behavior
What is it about peer pressure and social expectations that have you saying yes when you want to say no?
You worry about disappointing others yet what hurts more is when you disappoint yourself.
Choosing a healthy lifestyle is a daunting task. Consider a few statistics:
- 60-70% of North Americans are obese or overweight
- 51% of those who are overweight WANT to lose weight
- Of those, only 26% are attempting to lose weight
- 95% of those will gain it back within one year
On most days, you have the willpower and discipline to say “no.” The trouble is, you have a limited number of “no’s” to hand out each day. You say no once. Twice. Three times. Eventually, even the strongest will run out of no’s. When it is to the same person over the same food group at the same party three times in a row, well, that’s just plain aggravating. And, let’s call it what it is: food bullying.
The Hero’s Journey
Losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle is a hero’s journey. It is not for the faint of heart and there is no room for people pleasers.
A hero is a person who goes out and achieves great deeds on behalf of the group, tribe, civilizations, or even on behalf of themselves or their family. Being as healthy as you possibly can be is a benefit to everyone in your life.
A people pleaser never says no. They fear rejection because of a lack of confidence. They sacrifice their own needs, wants, desires, and dreams by giving in to what others want.
People in your life may not be on the same journey as you when it comes to health and eating. They may live by an alternative philosophy of “eat dessert first; life is uncertain.” And in living by such a philosophy, they want company. They want you to join them and they will ask again, and again, and again. They may say things like,
- Oh, come on! One bite won’t hurt you
- You’re no fun anymore since you don’t eat sweets
- But I made this especially for you
Pleasing the Person in The Mirror
At the end of the day, you have to face yourself in the mirror and ponder whether you were true to yourself. If the answer is anything other than “hell yeah,” then you are the one who’s hurting you. The guilt and shame that comes with disappointing yourself carries into your daily habits and every nook and cranny of your life, eroding at your self-confidence with every yes that was meant to be a no.
Here are a few tips toward saying no, being your hero, and avoiding the people pleaser behaviors that derail you from your healthy lifestyle:
- Say NO politely but firmly. “No, Thank you. I’m taking steps to improve my health and that is not part of my plan.”
- Sometimes you need a firmer stance with yourself and others: “No, thank you. I don’t eat that.”
- Set boundaries. Let people know you LOVE spending time with them but you are making changes for the benefit of your health and you won’t be eating sugar, ice cream, french fries, gluten, or drinking alcohol anymore.
- Let people know WHY you are living a healthier lifestyle and you will gain support not sabotage.
- Before you say yes or no, ask yourself: Is this DECISION helping or hurting the future me?
- Choose between what you want now and what you want most.
- Recognize that what you eat or don’t eat is YOUR choice. You have a voice and you can use it. What someone does with your yes or no is up to them. It’s not on you. Release the guilt.
- Call people on their stuff. You can do this with love. You can turn the table back on your loved one by asking why it’s so important to them that you eat what they are eating or what they have made. Say it with a smile on your face and then close your mouth. Wait for their reply. This can be a great stall technique and it gives you time to remember numbers one through seven above.
Keep Your Promise. Be the Hero
Each and every time you do something that is out of alignment with the goal you set for the promise you made, you make it easier to do again and again. When you keep your word, you build the muscle and the mindset that you always keep your promises.
Be true to yourself. Stay aware and focused on your goals and dreams so that when you say “Yes’ to please others, you are not disappointing yourself in the process.
– Lori Ann
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