Your phone rings or an incoming text chimes. You’re greeted with the same all-too-familiar message: “Can you help with…” or “Can you do me a favor?” As always, you are the go-to person in your family, friend circle or work group to handle a crisis or solve an issue. And, as usual, you’ll do it—even if you don’t
want to. It boils down to this: You have a pushover problem.
There’s a difference between enjoying rescuing others and being a pushover. Are you someone who does things for others, leaving little to no time for yourself? Often feel at your wit’s end? If you sometimes suspect that others see you as the person whom they can turn to or easily manipulate into helping out, this pushover problem post is for you.
In moderation, being available is a good thing. Self-sacrificing, on the other hand, is not. Those prone to a pushover problem become weighed down, feel torn, trapped, or taken advantage of. At the worst, they are often annoyed—with themselves!—for being easy marks.
There could be myriad reasons behind why you lean toward pushover tendencies. The first step in changing patterns is to identify their underlying causes. Read on for some possibilities.
6 Reasons You May be a ‘Yes’-Person
1. You dislike confrontation.
You may be someone who avoids unpleasantness in general—a tiff with your sister, heavy sighs from your parent or a passive-aggressive interaction in the office. You may even cave in to overly dramatic friends who think nothing of shaming you if you refuse. When this fear carries over into relationships, the word “yes” is becomes the go-to response. It tends to align with a need to stay safe and shield yourself from disagreements. By saying “Yes!” to a request or a favor, you sidestep the requester’s forceful side. You equate “yes” with avoiding a possible argument. Before you know it, your pushover problem takes over your life.
2. You take the path of least resistance.
For you, yes has been the way to avoid damaging your relationship with or hurting the asker’s feelings. “No” is a word that is so associated with negativity that you might not yet see its benefits. You likely only picture the asker reacting with anger or push-back—not a path to freedom or a reply that isn’t nearly as dramatic as you fear.
3. You have trouble stating what you want.
You may be reluctant to state your needs or feel they are less important than those of someone who wants your time or help. By not stating your needs or time restraints, you leave the door open to agreeing to what is being asked of you.
4. You thrive on helping.
You may have a pushover problem because you like being needed. Over the years, perhaps you have gotten into the habit of being cooperative and compliant. You enjoy the feelings of being liked or loved that emanate from meeting others’ wants and wishes. This might have stemmed from childhood. Perhaps while growing up, you were taught to be nurturing, caring, and, above all, helpful to others. It may have been a virtue in your home to always go out of your way to be supportive and accommodating.
Similarly, you may crave the approval that validates you and gives your self-esteem a boost. It does feel good to help solve a crucial problem in the office, or jump to your mother-in-law’s rescue whenever she calls on you. For people who are rooted in this situation, it can be hard to break the habit. Saying yes is how you have been functioning for what seems like forever.
5. You want to be included.
Perhaps you are driven to say yes too much because you fear you will miss something fun or important. This phenomenon is called “FOMO”—or “Fear of Missing Out.” Especially as social media has rocketed to the center of so many of our lives, it’s easy to see what others are doing—and ruminate over what you are not.
It may be your knee-jerk reaction to say yes to every party invitation or function that comes your way, even if you’re exhausted or not interested. It’s more enticing to bend over backwards or spread yourself thin rather than risk feeling left out…or worse, being abandoned.
6. You care too much about what people think.
Your concern may be that people will judge you negatively if you refuse or don’t show up. You are a pushover more often than not so you will be viewed as the caring, kind and helpful person that you probably are.
No need to agree to every single thing asked of you because the reality is: When you say no, people are no longer thinking about you. They move on to find someone who will cover for them, drive their children, or handle whatever is the task at hand.
Whether you identified with one, two, or more of these underlying reasons, it is possible to change your pushover problem habits. To learn exactly how, see The Book of No: 365 Ways to Say It and Mean It—And Stop People-Pleasing Forever.