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New Years Resolutions for the Recovering People-Pleaser

Updated: Jan 5

Set Boundaries, say no and reclaim your life.


Caitlin Weese LCSW-C, 200 RYT

It's that time of year again. Once the ball has dropped and the dust from the holidays has settled we're left with the new year. Looking back of the past year we feel burnt out, resentful and exhausted. We keep saying "yes" to everyone but ourselves, and we're suffering the consequences. We want things to be different this year, but we don't even know where to begin.


If this sounds like you and your ready to make 2023 the year of you, read on!


#1 - Take Inventory of Your Relationships


As people-pleasers we often are reactors to our lives rather than taking an active role in creating our life. This applies to our relationships too, we have a tendency to wait around for whoever will show up, versus getting clear on the types of people we want to have in our lives. Start by thinking about the people who light you up the most. The ones that always leave you smiling and energized, put them in one column. Then identify the ones that fill you with dread and anxiety and put these in their own column. The biggest things is not to overthink it, you know who belongs where. Imagine you see their name pop up on your phone, how do you feel? From there get clear on how you want to feel and adjust accordingly. Create boundaries with folx who drain you and invest in relationships that fill you up. You can learn about some signs of unhealthy relationships here.


#2 - List All Your Obligations & Decide Which Ones to Cut


Okay, now make a list of all your obligations...all of them! Even the ones that you feel like don't really count because you don't do them that often. I see you! Put them all on paper, and as you do notice the feelings that come up for you as you write each one. Is there excitement, worry, dread or resentment? Get quiet and notice how you feel about each one as you look at the list. Then, separate out the ones that are weighing you down from the others. From there, identify which ones are commitments you have to keep versus those you don't. Cut the unnecessary ones. For the others, explore ways you can decrease your level of involvement or ask for help. For example, maybe there is a work project you're dreading, see what resources might be available to you for support and communicate your needs. Here's a link to a great article to support you in the process of reassessing.


#3 - Practice "Delaying the Yes"


As people-pleasers, saying"no" can be one of the most difficult things for us. So for right now, give yourself permission to focus on "delaying the yes." This is the art of saying "let me get back to you." I like to suggest this first, because it typically feels less anxiety-provoking than "no" so it tends to be a good place to start. Plus, it gives you some time to get out of the situation, practice some calming skills, and get clear on what you want. Are you sensing a theme here? Here are a few other ways to say "let me get back to you" so you don't feel like Woody from a Toy Story:


  • Thank you so much for thinking of me, let me check my calendar and get back to you.

  • That sounds like fun, I need to check my schedule and I'll let you know.

  • Let me double-check what I have going on and I'll get back to you.


#4 - Say "No" with Conviction


This is a big one. If we want to reclaim our lives and our time we have to learn to say "no" when something isn't a good fit. Once you've gotten comfortable delaying the yes more often, try saying "no" in a low stakes situation. Get comfortable saying "no" to everyone from the barista, to the Chipotle crew member, to your neighbor. As you do, you will slowly learn that what you imagine happening doesn't, and the barista is not going to curse you out for getting a medium instead of a large. Once you feel more comfortable, apply this to higher stakes situations. As you do , remind yourself why you're saying "no," and focus on those reasons when you want to give in.


"No, is a complete sentence." - Anne Lamont

#5 - Create a Mantra or Affirmation


Research shows that affirmations are a helpful way to shift our perspectives and states. You can learn more about the science of affirmations here. By developing and repeating our own affirmations we can begin to change the way we see ourselves, shifting the way we show up in situations. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • My needs matter.

  • No one is entitled to my time.

  • Each day, I get better at setting boundaries.

  • Put your oxygen mask on first.

  • If you're honest and say what you feel kindly, how they take it is not your problem.

  • What would someone who loved themselves do?


And Remember it's Progress Not Perfection!

Leave a comment below to share how you're going to apply these in 2023.


Ready to say "yes" to yourself? Let's Chat



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