7 Ways to Avoid Being a Pushover
Being kind is a necessary virtue and a quality proven to sustain long-term, productive and healthy relationships. However, there is a fine line between kindness and pleasing. When you are pleasing, you tend to have very few, if any, personal boundaries. That makes you appear weak to others. If there is one habit that will impede your success long-term, it is the habit of pleasing.
Pleasing comes from fear and is always accompanied by a lack of confidence. You become a pushover if you fear people will dislike you if you are not 100 percent cooperative, if you fear you will be seen as overbearing, domineering or disagreeable. You are a pleaser if you consistently say "yes'' when you want to be saying "no." Most pleasers have learned to survive through placating others, and in doing this set themselves up to be treated without respect. In life and business, you cannot be taken seriously without a little moxie to your personality.
1. Expect respect.
Envision what it would be like to be treated with respect. How would you feel? You must first respect yourself to have this happen, and you do this by learning to assert yourself. Have you noticed that self-love, self-respect and self-awareness all begin with the word self? This is because these character traits can only be developed by you.
You must expose yourself to conflict and challenging situations to get used to standing for what you believe in, in spite of the challenges. As you expose yourself to this over and over, you will develop the emotional strength to respect yourself. In turn, others will respect you and take you seriously.
2. Express your emotions, including anger.
Anger is a healthy emotion. It is what warns you that danger is near and activates you to protect yourself and others. Anger is natural. It is a forward moving emotion. You can express this emotion best by being firm and direct.
Don't beat around the bush if you are frustrated or disagree with someone or something. Learn to speak up and express what you think and feel about a situation. Remember, in life you can't get what you want unless you say what you want. Never let anyone, any deal, or any customer take advantage of you simply because you do not want to lose something or someone. Learn to use your anger to set limits. which is it's intended purpose.
Anger and rage are different. The type of anger that will bring you success is the type that can be spoken with class, gratitude and a statement of deliberate direction.
3. Express your opinions.
Your opinions are as important as you make them. If you cower in a situation because you are afraid someone will reject your opinion there is no way for anyone to know you or your preferences. Do not look for agreement, simply state what is correct for you and live that fully.
In business and life your opinions are the expression of who you are, what you think and feel. If you cannot express this part of you, there will be no real path up the mountain, aside from riding along in life on the coattails of others.
If happiness is the byproduct of achieving, then you need to learn to express your opinions and see that they can have a large and positive influence on the directions you want to take.
4. Say no.
No is simple. You do not have to do or participate in anything you do not want to. Your "no’s" define your likes and dislikes, which make you clear as a person to other people. In setting limits you let people know where they stop and you start. If people do not know these boundaries you will get pushed over.
Many feel guilty in saying no because someone may be let down. If someone else is let down because of a healthy and productive decision you need to make, that is their "stuff" to deal with and not your responsibility.
Saying no is a statement of clarity and power. It sets the stage for creating the path to your success. Trust that you know what is right and what is wrong as you travel your journey. If you cannot say no, you hang onto excess baggage slowing the speed of achieving your desired results.
Learn to pay attention to your gut feelings. When they tell you no, walk away.
5. Ask for what you want.
What you want and need must be so important to you that you are unwilling to compromise yourself. If decisions you make to better your life inconvenience someone else then, oh well. Again, the only way to get what you want in life is to say what you want.
You cannot get all the resources you need in the pursuit of your success or happiness if you are too afraid to speak up. Most people who are pleasing feel guilty in asking for what they want. This attitude stops success and stifles happiness. If you see yourself as a burden, you will be treated as such.
Have the courage to ask for what you want. Ask for what you want over and over. Be clear in your body language, tone, commitment and eye contact when asserting your needs. This type of fearlessness, even if you are faking it until you make it, will soon become a natural part of your personal moxie, getting you what you want quicker and easier than you could have ever expected.
6. Make mistakes.
Why use low risk strategies based in fear and pleasing to look perfect to others? When you are doing this you are being fake. Real people make mistakes and are not perfect. Your mistakes are your greatest teachers, so mistake-away.
Never allow anyone, especially yourself, to expect perfection from you. When you make a mistake, learn from it. Don't spend too much time on a mistake just because it took a lot of time to make it. Get up, move on, refine your goals and embrace that each mistake takes you in a new and better direction.
7. Pursue happiness.
We all have a unique path in life. Pushovers are like an unanchored boat floating aimlessly in the water just trying to stay safe and out of the way. Happiness can only be achieved if it is deliberately pursued.
Find your path, search your soul, and develop emotional strength by taking risks and making clear statements of who you are and the goals you are committed to achieving. When you "please," your happiness is dependent upon the approval of others. From this place you will always be afraid, under-expressed, oppressed and in fear.
Keep in mind if you allow yourself to be a pushover, you are not honoring yourself or being honest with others, thereby directly contributing to the erosion of your life, relationships and to your feelings of happiness and success.
Happiness is a hard earned journey and largely a byproduct of achieving, not pleasing.
Asserting yourself will not upset people as much as you fear it will, and when it does they will get over it. Fear is always larger in your own mind because asserting yourself is new behavior. As you develop your moxie, you will be surprised at how quickly others get used to the new you and like you even better. This is what respecting yourself does. It changes everything. It takes a lot of courage and emotional strength to act on your own behalf. It takes the belief that you deserve something better.
Sherrie Campbell is a psychologist in Yorba Linda, Calif., with two decades of clinical training and experience in providing counseling and psychotherapy services. She is the author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person. Her new book, Success Equations: A Path to an Emotionally Wealthy Life, is available for pre-order.