In a world where we're taught to say yes to everything and many of us grow up as people pleasers as a result, I have come to find great power in the word NO.
As a recovering people pleaser myself I've realized I was taught I had to say yes to things I didn't want to do and maybe it wasn't always to say yes but more that is was not ok to say no. The thought was, to say no might hurt or disappoint others, it might make them reject you and in turn not love you. As people pleasers our identity is grown through doing for others, even if it meant depleting ourselves.
As I've learned to love myself and put my self-care first I've found NO to be a very powerful tool. Though I am still sometimes met with those feelings of guilt and fear of disappointing others it's usually outweighed by the feelings of gratitude for myself and an inner knowing that I'm doing what's best for me. See we are all only ever truly responsible for ourselves and that includes responsibility in how others make us feel. While it is never my intention to hurt or disappoint others, I've also come to realize it's out of my control how they react to my choices, many of which are choices made in the name of self-care. Over the last 3 years my therapist has often reminded me that "it's ok to cause others discomfort in the name of self-care".
People pleasing, also known as fawning is often times a learned trauma response ingrained in us from childhood or abusive relationships as adults. We feel the only way to survive, feel safe, loved, and accepted is to appease others, to make them happy. Playing the role of "peace keeper" is another way to put it and often times found in those of us that are empaths. We use most of our energy trying to anticipate the needs of others so we can "keep them happy" and avoid conflict. In turn we sacrifice ourselves and our own needs in order to do this.
Learning to say NO is a wonderful step in re-claiming yourself and meeting your own needs first. Though I feel it's just as important to do the work to unravel and find out where this trauma response started. To truly heal these long held, conditioned beliefs we must understand them from the root of where they began. It is not an easy task but I can assure you it's well worth it and makes saying NO in the name of self-care that much more empowering.