Do you say things like this a lot?
“I don’t want to be a bother…”
“Let’s do whatever is easier for you.”
Holy cow, I feel like my whole life has been spent saying things like that. I am constantly worrying about annoying or inconveniencing other people.
I always thought it was a lack of self-esteem. I am most concerned with not bothering people when I see them as being more important, more experienced, smarter, wealthier, or busier than I am. Who am *I* to bother *them*?
You know why I do that? Why I try so hard not to inconvenience people? It’s to prevent them from feeling like I did inconvenience them. I’m so afraid that people will think I am annoying, I go out of my way to make sure they don’t feel that way.
A people pleaser can also have a hard time saying no. “It’s no problem!” is something they’d often say. “Sure, I can work late tonight.” “Yeah, you can crash at my place.” “I can babysit, no problem.” “Sure, I can lend you more money.”
And why do people have a hard time saying “no”? Because they don’t want the other person to say they weren’t helpful. If you always say yes, they can’t say that you never work late, that you aren’t generous, that you never babysit, etcetera. You’re covered!
Are you a people pleaser?
If you do have a hard time saying “no”, then you may become frustrated, burnt-out, or overwhelmed when you take on too many responsibilities, or hold in resentment. But you probably knew that already. 🙂
A great book to help with this issue is The Disease to Please by Dr. Harriet Braiker. It helps you realize that you can’t ever make everyone else happy, plus how to create clearer boundaries. You may think never saying No makes you a generous, open-hearted person, but it can actually make your life worse! Great book.
Are you a people pleaser? Do you say “I don’t want to bother you” a lot? Leave a comment below!
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photo credit: Lili Vieira de Carvalho via photopin cc
When I need to ask a question of one of my colleagues, I approach them with ‘sorry to bother you’. I also start any phone calls I make with ‘hope I haven’t disturbed you’. I actually make very few phone calls due to being worried about disturbing/bothering people. I really thought it was just me-thanks so much for sharing, I feel much better. Also though, I think the response of the people you’re interacting with plays a big part in this-one of my sisters constantly sounds annoyed/irratated when I call her.
Hey, you know i think that goes vice versa. The person who sounds annoyed might make you feel like youre bothering them… but ive noticed it also may be the other way around as well.. because ive noticed (about myself) that for example i always ask boyfriends for favors in such a pleading, sorry to bother you way.. like “can you do me a big favor?” or like maybe make a wrinkly face, when im asking them to do something they should actually be doing anyway.. as in say taking out the trash.. so after years i realized i do this, while other people kind of just frankly ask.. or even say.. “hey honey, take out the trash”, but i think depending on the way you ask actually has a lot to do with the way the person will respond… ive even seen people more than happily do 100s of things for people that are even kind of using them, taking advantage, and/or even being a lazy ass say asking the other person to pass them something that is even within a further reach away from the other pwerson than themselves.. yet at some point soon, when i ask for a “big favor” the other person will become less willing to do it.. sry im tired, i wrote that kind of funny.. but hope you understand.. its something im trying to work on within myself.. hope it helps you in some way. (:
Yes, asking nicely is important, but we also don’t want to be pushovers!! Thanks for the comment 🙂
I don’t want to be bothered anymore with your email!!
Hello Virginio, I’m not sure what email you are referring to?
Often we treat people as we wish to be treated… we KNOW our sensitivities.. have a measure of annoyance for interfering in our space. Our “me time” is very appreciated. So we figure “we have to respect that in other people”. It is not about pleacing all the time.. it is about consideration. We get concerned.
I have a friend… with which i had to make some arrangements and all of a sudden her phone put me to VM, and since i had JUSt being speaking to her.. i figured something was wrong.. so i dialed again.. past another 15 min.. again.. but then i realized… o.k- the fact that she has a phone does not make her available at all times.. and the fact that her daughter or son has not called me back to say that she is having an issue.. then it is not a big deal.Later i learned that her battery had died. Thing is… people could get annoyed also by “our concern”…and sometimes they have a right to be left alone also. When she called back.. she had settled the matters. So there was nothing to worry about.
I appreciate you comment. That is a big reason why I am so polite, because I am so aware of my own annoyances. I figure everyone else has them as well. I don’t want to be another annoyance to them. I never noticed that’s what’s happening until I read your post though.
Me too – I’d never thought about it that way! I make as few phonecalls as possible and I’m now pretty sure it’s because receiving them stresses me out! Well, it does when my phone pipes up and I stare at the name/number thinking “Can I handle this right now? Should I pick up? Can I ignore it and send them a text to say I was in the shower? Maybe they’ll just leave a voicemail and I can answer by text later…”
That’s a lot to go round in your head in 2 seconds, and unnecessarily stressful! If I just picked up the phone and dealt with whatever it is withing thinking about it, a lot of things would be much easier.
I’ve just cried bucket loads because I’m so elated that I’m not alone with this. I feel almost paralysed seeing my cellphone light up and then relief when the call ends, I have a chance to think rationally again.Thank you so much for sharing, everyone, I feel “normal” 🙂
so glad it was helpful :))
It’s not about people pleasing. It’s self-preservation. If you grew up abused, ridiculed, and with no emotional support, why would you ever set yourself up for more abuse? When the world proves you’re not worth their time and you don’t get positive feedback, then going somewhere you’ve not been explicitly invited is out of the question. The same applies to calling people or having to interrupt someone at work. If no one was ever there to protect you then self-preservation is all you have left.
Your comment described my childhood and my adult behavior patterns to a “T”. I had not looked at it in that context and to put it a simply as you did it makes so much sense.
I am a college professor from a really dysfunctional family and I am burned out from too much volunteering.
Jen and Mark -same here. Painful to see it in such light, but that’s how it is. I still don ‘t know how to ask for help or advocate for myself because there was little support in my life to begin with. I just try to do good for others..
Hmm. Another great comment about this subject I never considered. My parents and siblings were always annoyed with me because of my sensitivities. I was always the crazy dysfunctional one and the beating bag for anything that went wrong.
Perhaps it is a learned response. I do remember parts of my very early childhood when it was more simple to have friends.
I learned to start saying no in my 30’s. At that time it seemed like everyone on the planet was wanting something from me and I was about to explode. I happened to read an article that it can be good to say no, so I’ve been doing it ever since when I feel a situation will be something that will cause me distress.
I don’t like to say no because I wish I could help everyone on the planet, but boundaries are imperative to survival. After the initial guilt wears off from saying no, I feel so free.
My life exactly.
But how do you fix it?
Being on the Autism Spectrum, and dealing with ADHD and Complex PTSD, I completely understand and agree with what you’re saying here. Does this look familiar? Even when I am invited to a party, I would be asked (not always nicely) to leave because some other guest(s) are uncomfortable, or even offended, by my very presence. I think twice (or more) before accepting an invitation to a party or other event as I would rather stay home alone than go somewhere that I may not be welcome (even when ‘properly invited’).
It’s so funny and very encouraging when you read articles that prove to you yet another time that you are not problematic or whatsoever.
HSP is such a beautiful thing if you teach yourself how to control it and appreciate its pearls of wisdom.
I’m so much indebted to Dr. Elaine Aron and her husband for conducting the long-term research to prove that high sensitivity does exists and it’s not a disease, but a trait.
This is me to a fault. I just had my DIY wedding where I felt uncomfortable asking anyone for help. Even when friends offered to volunteer to help I refused because I did not want to bother them with the work. My husband and mother in-law helped but it was not enough. I nearly had a nervous break down the day after because I took on waaaay too much and did not enjoy my wedding. I wish I had at least hired a wedding coordinator for the day of because I was running around in my wedding dress handling all the vendors and food preparation.
When I’m feeling low or down, I remember the people and the times they’ve said to me “if you ever feel like you need to talk, please text me, don’t go through anything alone…” etc, and you know what I do? I don’t text. I don’t call.
Why? Because I don’t want to come across as being needy. I may really need to have a good talk, to sort through some thoughts, but I don’t want to bother people even if they’ve offered.
I generally think my close friends are more important of or special than I am so I don’t want to annoy them.
Thanks for sharing. I have that tendency too. Somewhat glad to know I’m not the only one.
I had such low self esteem when I was young. I wasted my life because I didn’t say ‘no’ when I should have (sex). You are worth so much more and I wasted my life and it makes you want to kill yourself because you already did. Wasted your sacred life on sins. Not worth it!! ‘-(
Im so like this I barely have any friends at all. I hate disturbing people, always have. I think about how people are doing all the time, want to buy them gifts to make them happy but get so worried about interrupting their day I never call (barely text). Just makes people think I don’t care.
Once when living at uni halls I got locked out and rather than throw stones at a window where a friend was just getting ready for bed, I spent the night in a computer room.
Yet in total contrast and only when I’m confident about what’s right I will speak up to anyone: told the head of my company it would be a dick move to sack a bunch of staff just before Christmas.
I had the perfect childhood, I’m just weird, think my head is just broken.
Anyway while I’ve mostly given up on being the person I want to be I wanted to write a message to say, don’t be like me, don’t lose good friends because people think you don’t care but let go of bad friends if they take advantage of you. Stand up for yourselves and be who you want to be.
Remember- you are awesome!
this is so me as well, people think am a snub, but I really don’t want to bother them, this got worse when I started applying for further study and jobs. it felt sickening to keep bothering my lectures for reference, am like who I am to bother them despite their workload. and am actually very confident and self-spoken, I just don’t like people sacrificing something for me.
I’m an HSP and have learned some coping strategies to help with my shame/guilt/anxiety; and as all of us have to deal with boundary issues. Please keep in perspective that society has changed with new technology making our lives 24/7 (life is no longer natural). Although old sayings help me keep my morals disciplined or in check I dont use them to shame myself. Throughout the years, I’ve learned its “not what you say but how you say it period.”
For example, I don’t tell people what they need/should do I make suggestions (helps with my feelings of guilt).
When I say no, I use two examples to help set appropriate boundaries for both parties. 1) I really appreciate you asking me; however, my time is already commited. 2) Thanks, but I’ll have to pass on that (no elaboration & I switch subjects if I’m pressured).
As I said ealier, “these are only suggestion and may not work for you.” And I only make these suggestions as I have found it really does help me more with the shame/guilt/anxiety feelings I get. Furthermore, to elaborate a little on my childhood it was filled with codependency. However, I don’t feel broken just normal like everyone else. I also continually strive for a positive outlook because I can go to deep really fast. My only hope is this example helps someone else.
I am a recovering people pleaser…lol. I learned long ago I was being dishonest by people pleasing as I was looking for validation, love, approval… and so I stopped being dishonest…Being ‘everyones darling’ was exhausting and I ended up with so much resentment. I learned to people please as a child. I was taught to put everyone else’s needs first and that caused me to attract friends/co workers/men who bullied me if I didnt do what was good for them…I suffered for many years through my compliance. i learned the hard way that it is dangerous in todays world to be too nice as it sends out a message that I am an easy target. I now teach clients how I have had so much success with politely rejecting people, places and things so I dont offend anyone, and I do stay true to myself.
Before I say anything I often choose to not bother someone. I especially won’t make a phone call to places like My Dr.s office if I would like an appointment. I go without. With online ordering I don’t have to ask another to phone for take out. I more able to talk to someone in person as I can see what there doing and they will get to me when finished their other tasks. In other situations I am in line fro something important (not getting tickets)and when it comes to my turn I feel really bad and say I am so sorry for bothering you and get flustered and hate myself sometimes cry. My Psychiatrist prescribed stimulants used for ADHD for times I needed to feel better and accomplish something. Often that is an off label use for those like me with Treatment Resistant Depression. When I do take a stimulant. I can’t always do really important things for myself. But I can call places (not dr.) and get information or if there is a problem with a company resolve it in a polite and civil way. Through my life if an action is needed to help out another person I care about, I can do anything. If an action is needed to help myself, I rarely can what is needed or even part of it.
I have a case with this where I feel like I can’t talk to my friends, even online. They will be playing games and I want to join them, but I always think it’s because I don’t want t them to think I’m annoying. I realize I push them away when I do this. I try and help people as much as I can and it sometimes falls into me being a people pleaser. My mom sometimes says that no one in the house does that specific job, even this though I do it. I feel troubled by it. I have been trying to interact more with them, but it’s been hard.
I have no trouble refusing. I’m far from pleasing others, but I don’t like to bother people unless it’s important.