August 1, 2023

Four Ways to Beat Burnout by Recovering from People Pleasing

Are you someone who finds it challenging to say ‘No’ or always feel the need to keep everyone around you happy? If yes, you might be a people-pleaser. And while it may feel like an admirable trait to have, it often leads to feeling stretched way too thin across your obligations and responsibilities, neglecting your own needs in favor of others’ desires, and ultimately, major burnout at work, at home, and in your closest relationships.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve recognized yourself in these words. Awareness is the first step towards making some healthy changes in your life, especially when it might be able to help with burnout.

Here’s the question you might be asking yourself at this point: can recovering from people-pleasing really help you to combat burnout? The short answer is: YES!

How Are People Pleasing and Burnout Related?

People-pleasing and burnout are intrinsically related, as both usually involve emotional and/or physical exhaustion caused by consistently putting the needs and happiness of others before your own.

People-pleasers often feel the urge to say “yes” even if their whole body is saying “no,” and may take on too many responsibilities or make decisions based on what will make others happy. This leads to people-pleasers neglecting their own needs and well-being. This perpetual overextension can cause chronic stress and emotional fatigue, leading to burnout.

Similarly, burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and ongoing stress. It often crops up when someone is overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands, typically at work or in caretaking roles. This exhaustion is much like the constant strain a people-pleaser may feel. Even further, people pleasers may be more prone to burnout because of their urge to put others before themselves and the difficulty they face in prioritizing their own physical, mental, emotional, social, and even spiritual needs.

So here is the challenging yet crucial part in changing the cycle of burnout and stress: breaking free from the habit of pleasing people. It’s not easy, but with consistent effort, support, and patience, it’s absolutely possible. And trust me, it’s well worth the effort.

Below I’ll outline a few important steps you can take to start your journey of recovery from people-pleasing and burnout:

Practice Radical Self Care

Self-care is not just about taking bubble baths or doing yoga (though those are great too!). It’s about understanding what your mind and body need to be healthy and happy.

Do you need to spend time in nature, away from computers, phones, and the constant demands of modern day life?

Maybe you need to set aside quiet moments for meditation or read a good book.

Self-care can also feel challenging or uncomfortable while you’re practicing it—for example, moving your body with physical exercise, or going for routine check-ups even if you’re anxious about “what they might find.”

It might also look like turning down work projects, declining social invitations when your spoons are low, changing jobs, radically changing or ending an unhealthy relationship, or even digging into your difficult past with trauma therapy.

Learn to Set Boundaries, Even the Ones that Feel Uncomfortable

As a therapist in the Seattle area, one of my favorite things to help my clients with is finding ways to set compassionate, healthy boundaries with the people in their lives. Often, people feel hesitant to set boundaries because they’re worried that it will make them anxious, or hurt someone’s feelings, or cause a rift in their relationships.

While discomfort is often a part of setting boundaries, and some people in our lives may not like the boundaries we set, I’m here to say this: It’s okay to draw your line in the sand in order to preserve your own mental and physical wellbeing. Really, it is.

Setting boundaries is an essential step in not overextending ourselves. You don’t have to take on every task or favor asked of you. Asserting yourself might feel uncomfortable at first, especially if you’re not used to doing so, but with practice, it’ll become easier and easier as you go.

Recognize and Challenge Unhelpful Thought Patterns and Beliefs

Often, people-pleasing behaviors stem from deep-rooted beliefs about our own self-worth and what makes us valuable to others. When healing from people-pleasing and trying to bust burnout, it’s key that you raise your awareness about the types of patterns you fall into when you’re acting from a place of low self-worth.

Catching yourself when you’re falling into old patterns can be hard, no lie. Some things to ask yourself might include:

● Am I saying yes to something because I genuinely want to, or because I’m afraid of
disappointing someone?
● Am I doing something out of a sense of obligation or guilt, even though nobody asked
me to?
● Am I trying to solve for what I assume other people might feel if I say no?
● Am I taking on extra responsibilities because I don’t think others can handle it?
● Am I saying yes to things, just to avoid my own discomfort around other people’s
● Am I doing things for others because I want to feel useful or valuable to them?

Question these thought patterns, challenge them, and begin to shift them towards healthier narratives. Often, the guidance of a therapist or support group can help you get out of your own way and start identifying the behaviors that are truly keeping you stuck in overwhelm and burnout.

Don’t Go it Alone

Many, many people-pleasers have a tough time asking for help from others—and it’s no wonder, when they’ve gotten so used to helping everyone but themselves! But just know that you don’t actually have to do this by yourself. Reach out to supportive friends, family, or consider seeking help from a mental health professional. They can provide you with tools and strategies to navigate through the rough waters of setting boundaries and reclaiming your sense of empowerment.

By taking these steps, you start to shift from people-pleasing to self-loving. This is where the magic happens in combating burnout. Once you stop spreading yourself thin to meet everyone’s expectations, you’ll have more energy for yourself. You may find that you are not constantly drained—instead, you’ll have the capacity to engage more fully and joyfully in the activities and relationships that truly matter to you.

It’s important to remember that this is a process, and it’s okay to take it slow. You may still find yourself slipping into old habits now and then, and that’s alright. Recovering from people- pleasing and burnout is a journey, and it’s important to keep taking one step after another. Be gentle with yourself and celebrate every little victory along the way.

Therapy for People Pleasing and Burnout in Washington State

As a therapist in the Seattle area who helps clients overcome and prevent burnout, people-pleasing behaviors, codependency and more, I’ve worked with many people who have found great success in setting compassionate boundaries, practicing radical self care, and busting through the constant strain of burnout.

To learn more about counseling for people pleasing and burnout in Washington, contact me for a free consultation to see if I’m the right fit for you. I can’t wait to hear from you!

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