I’m a chronic people-pleaser. I always have been. The idea of someone not liking me is a notion that, quite frankly, flat-out scares me. So, when I’m asked to do something for someone, I pour myself into it – sometimes at the expense of my mental health. However, I’ve learned how to better make sure I take care of myself. It doesn’t mean I don’t help those who need it, just that I don’t do so at my own expense. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Put Down The Phone
I used to be attached to my phone 24/7, that way if someone needed me I could respond immediately. I was constantly checking my messages and missed calls to make sure I hadn’t missed anything important. It had me on edge all the time and I ended up not enjoying other things – such as going out to dinner – because I was more worried about the screen in my palm. Now, I tell people to call me if it’s an immediate issue. Otherwise, I usually leave my phone lying around and sometimes I even put it on do not disturb for a few hours. I’m still just a phone call away if needed, but I’m able to enjoy myself more instead of jumping every time I get a text.
Learn To Say No
This was the hardest thing for me to learn. I always felt like saying no would make me look like I didn’t care about the person who was asking me for help. I had to learn how to tell people that I wasn’t up to helping with whatever it was. I try to always tell them that I still care, I just need to look after my own mental health first. Especially if what they need help with happens to be a triggering topic. Most people will, and do, understand the need to prioritize myself. And the people that don’t? Well, oh well.
Other People’s Actions Are Not Your Fault
When someone did something I had actively advised them against, it very often felt like I could have done more. If I had told them I couldn’t help them with something and then they did something self-destructive, I would immediately blame myself. I had to learn that I can offer all the advice in the world, but people may still act in ways I don’t condone. It is not my fault, as they are the ones who made the decision. When I stopped blaming myself for things others did, my life felt a lot more free.
I am not saying that you should abandon all those dear to you, by any means. You can still be there for them and lend them a shoulder to cry on. I still do for those I’m close to, and I always will. What I am saying is don’t sacrifice your mental health. Make sure you take care of yourself and put yourself first. It is a hard thing to learn how to do. But once you do, you are able to be there for others in a healthier manner and it ends up being better for everyone.