Start Putting Yourself First: Tools to Say No Without Guilt or Drama - Transcripts
It's your friend Mel, and welcome to a guilt-free and selfish episode of the Mel Robbins podcast. Let's go, people! All right, welcome. Why did I call this episode selfish? Well, because you and I, we're going to talk about people-pleasing, and I am going to teach you the art and the science of putting yourself first. Wouldn't that be nice? I know it would be nice, and you deserve that. If you're new to the Mel Robbins podcast, I just want to welcome you. My name is Mel Robbins. I'm a New York Times bestselling author and one of the most respected experts in the world on the subject of change and motivation. And we're talking about people-pleasing. And one of the reasons why I want to talk about people-pleasing is it is so misunderstood.
I used to struggle with people-pleasing. Today, you and I are going to unpack this topic. We're going to define it. I'm going to explain what the research says about the brain and people-pleasing, because that's going to be really interesting. When you realize that people-pleasing is something that everybody deals with. And by the end of this episode, you're going to have tools, tools that are going to make you more self-aware, tools that are going to help you catch yourself in those moments when you feel the pressure to please other people. And that pressure starts to override your ability to put yourself first. and so we're going to start with the term people pleaser and I'm going to use your questions to help me go deeper and deeper and deeper into this topic so let's just start though with the term people pleaser so that you and I are on the same page people pleaser refers to a person who just has a strong desire to please other people even if pleasing other people comes at their own expense expense. If you struggle with people pleasing, I certainly used to. I mean, those of us that were parent pleasers, we grew up to be people pleasers. And so if you struggle with this and you often feel like your own wants or needs don't matter, or you tend to bend yourself into knots around other people, or you find yourself having a really hard time just being yourself, or saying what you really want to say, you're not alone. and you're gonna get all kinds of awesome tools today.
And the other thing that's interesting about the research that we did to prepare for this episode is that people, pleaser, that's not a medical term, that is not some sort of diagnosis that psychologists use. That is simply a way that we describe casually this coping mechanism that we all engage in in order to keep the peace, in order to fit in, in order to feel love. There are four takeaways that I want to give you really quickly. Number one, every human being is a people pleaser. Everybody, unless you're some narcissistic jerk, in order to get through life, you have to make other people happy. You have to, for example, put your boss's needs ahead of yours if you expect to remain employed. It is what it is. Your spouse and your kids, they come first at time. Your parents, when you were little, you wanted to please them. And there are times where you need other people to be happy with you, like when you're at the DMV, that clerk that you hope does you that quick favor, you better make sure that they're happy with you, or the person who's throwing the big party in Cabo over spring break, definitely you're a people pleaser around that person. I don't blame you. You want the invite.
Second takeaway, you're never gonna get rid of people pleasing entirely. I wouldn't want you to. You can't, because some level of people pleasing is necessary in life, because relationships are a give and take. And what we're gonna talk about today is the balance. How do you balance other people's needs and your own? Third takeaway, people pleasing is only a problem if you do it by default. So if you're the kind of person that is so focused on other people, you don't even know who you are anymore. You've been neglecting your own needs, or silencing your own voice, or you constantly feel like a doormat that everybody walks on, people pleasing is definitely a problem for you. I want more for you. And so today I'm going to probably make you pretty shocked at how prevalent this is for you, so that you can start making different decisions moving forward. And that leads me to the fourth takeaway. You can take your power back.
My mission today is to help you understand the topic, gain more self-awareness, so that you can interrupt this pattern. And you can create a different pattern, which is making conscious decisions in your day-to-day life that truly empower you. Because you can learn how to consciously choose when you are going to put other people first, and when you're gonna put yourself first. So let's start with a question.
This one comes from a listener named Janet. Hey Mel, so the way I was raised was that what defines a good woman is what she can do for others, for her children, for her husband, whatever. And you always came second, whether it was you were the last to take a shower before you went out, you were the last to eat at a family event. So my biggest struggle now is creating self-love for myself without feeling guilty, without feeling like I'm not being humble enough, or without feeling like I'm less of a mother or less of a wife, because I'm taking care of myself. I know it's the other way. I know that I have to take care of me so I can take care of others, but I just have a hard time doing it without feeling that guilt. To me, it literally feels like a child learning to walk. I don't know how to do it without feeling guilt.
I wanna remove that guilt from inside of me.
I have a hard time doing it. Janet, I got some bad news. You can't remove the guilt. I must say that again. When you first start putting yourself first, you will not remove the guilt. And so I just wanna be honest. This really isn't about guilt. This is about you defining for yourself what it means to be a good wife and a good mother and a good person in your eyes. And so I'm gonna give you two major wake-up calls that I had around this topic, and then I'm gonna tell you this crazy story. So the first wake-up call is this notion that the people who love you, they will be annoyed with you when you put yourself first. It is true. They are not gonna like it.
They like you being the person that you are right now. It is convenient for them that you put them first. It is wonderful, the dynamic that's in place, but it's no longer good for you. So just expect that the people who you love will be annoyed or disappointed or upset when you start putting yourself first, but they're still gonna love you. It's not an either or thing. And I'll explain more about that. And second, this is a huge wake-up call. What if guilt is actually a good thing? What if guilt is super healthy to feel right now? In fact, that's what I believe. I believe that the guilt is good. I believe that the guilt is healthy, and you can reframe it.
See, guilt shows that you care. That's why you feel that way. If you were a narcissistic douchebag, you wouldn't feel guilty at all for putting yourself first. I wanna frame guilt in a different way for you, okay? Let's frame it from a bad sign. Ooh, I'm doing something bad. I'm putting myself first into a good one. Stop seeing guilt as a bad thing because you're not doing anything wrong when you put yourself first. Start seeing guilt as a good thing. Guilt is a sign that you're breaking free of this people-pleasing habit. You feel guilty because putting yourself first is just a new feeling. That's it.
Two things can be true in life at the same time. You can feel guilty and you can still put yourself first. Pretty cool. It's not an either or. That's why I say that this topic is about balancing your needs with the fact that in order to have great relationships, you do have to compromise sometimes. And the balance comes in because in order for you to have the life that you want, you are gonna disappoint people that you love sometimes. I experience this all the time. I'm 54 years old, I still wanna make my parents happy. Why? Because I love them. And because that's what I've always done. And so when I get into one of those moments where it is a balancing act, it's not easy.
So I'm gonna tell you a story. My dad is an enormous Billiards fan. And when he was in either college or medical school, he used to hustle for money at a pool hall. Like he is a great pool player. And I grew up in a town called Muskegon, Michigan, which is the world headquarters of a company called Brunswick, which used to make all of the old pool tables. And so my dad became just a huge fan of collecting antique pool and billiard artifacts. In fact, my parents' house is full of them. Old pool balls, pool cues, the little counting like things that hang on the ceiling, artwork, chairs from billiards. My dad loves this stuff. So when Chris and I got married, he gave us a refurbished Brunswick pool table that dated back to the 1800s. And it had been in a Vikings lodge in Muskegon, Michigan. And he ended up buying it an auction, had it refurbished.
And it was like the greatest thing ever. But here's the problem. When Chris and I got married, we lived in an apartment. Like whose apartment has room for a pool table? And so this beautiful pool table sat in my parents' basement in North Muskegon, Michigan for over a decade. And so all this time goes by. Chris and I have now moved to Boston. We've bought our first house. It is a teeny, tiny farmhouse. There was not a single room that was big enough to clear a pool table. We couldn't even fit it in our house. So more years go by.
And then Chris and I finally have enough money to refinance the house and put on a small addition. We were gonna put on a garage with a room above the garage. That's what we were gonna do. And my dad, he was like, great. That means the pool table finally has a home. Now, I had envisioned that this room above the garage would be the kid's playroom, right? And I thought, oh, okay. Well, you know, it's a two-car garage. So clearly we could put a pool table in there and it'd be the kid's playroom. So get this, my dad is so excited that I fly back to Michigan and he and I take a road trip in a U-Haul where we drive from Michigan all the way to Boston together. And we bring back all kinds of stuff from my parents' basement and we split a bunch of plants from their yard and the pool table was in the back and we assemble the pool table. And when they finally finished assembling this pool table, it sat in the middle of this playroom like a felted aircraft carrier.
Our playroom, as it turns out, was only big enough to put a pool table in it. No room for the couch, no room for the kid's play table, just a big ass antique pool table that was a sign of my father's love and devotion to his daughter. Did I want the pool table there? Well, for the first year or two, it was great. But then it literally just collected dust. And as the kids got older, it became the table that they played Legos on and then it became the table that I folded laundry on and then my business started to grow and I started thinking, boy, it'd be awfully nice to have an office, a place to work, but I didn't dare disassemble that pool table. Why? The thought of disappointing my father? Heartbreaking, because I love him and I did not know what I know now. I thought that in order to have my dad love me, that meant that I had to just keep this pool table like a mausoleum, is that the word, that represented my father and my duty and my loyalty. And as my company began to grow, we put plywood on top of the pool table and we worked on that. So Janet, I totally understand what you mean when you say guilt.
I felt crushing guilt, literally for years, about even thinking about disassembling that pool table that my dad gave us. The only thing I cared about was not disappointing my father. And so I lived like this for years. And then I finally thought, what the hell am I doing? I'm a grown-ass woman. I need to disassemble the pool table. My dad will understand. And in order to put my needs first and my business first and for my kids to have a place to be able to be to, I need to take the room back. And so I finally got the courage to pick up the phone and call my dad. And I'm gonna tell you the cringe-worthy details about that call. You do not want to miss this after a word from our sponsors. We'll be right back.
Welcome back, I'm Mel Robbins. And you and I are talking about guilt and the art of putting yourself first. So let's go back to my story about the pool table that my father gave to us and me feeling like the world's worst daughter. Okay, so I'll never forget this day that I finally picked up the phone to call my dad. And when I heard his voice, I immediately regretted calling him because I started to chicken out. Hey, Mel, what's up? Hey, dad. And of course I talk about nothing. And my stomach ache is churning and I'm starting to feel stress diarrhea coming on. And finally, I'm like, okay, God, Mel, five, four, three, two, one. You're not eight years old anymore. You just feel like you are.
And I'm like, dad, I gotta talk to you about something. He's like, yeah, what's up? Okay, so the pool table you gave us. Yeah, yeah, how's it going? You guys love using it. Like, I'm so happy. Your brother, they just moved into their house in Chicago. And so the table that I gave them, it's in their basement. We played last weekend. My heart is sinking in my chest. This is not going according to plan. So I take a deep breath.
I said, dad, yeah, about the pool table. My business is growing so fast. I really need a place for the people that work for me to come and work. Oh, great. They're gonna love playing on the pool table too. Like, you know, the cool offices all have pool tables and ping pong. Dad, I don't have enough room in the room that it's in. Oh, well, it could go in the living room. Like if you got, dad, I like it just can't because the living room's not big enough. So what are you saying, Mel? Well, what I'm saying is I was gonna hire the guy that you hired to like level it and put the slate in to come back and lovingly like take it apart. And I was gonna store it in a really loving way until I have a place for it.
Silence. You wanna know how I felt in that moment? I felt like the world's worst daughter. I felt like an ungrateful piece of shit because through the silence, I could feel my dad's heart sink. And it was a really hard thing to do. And that's why I say this is a balance. Like it's so easy to say on a TikTok video, just say no. When it's somebody that you love and you know that you're gonna disappoint them, that's not easy and you can still do it. And what's interesting about that moment is it didn't feel like this victory because I knew that he was disappointed and I was disappointed too. And that's why I'm gonna keep on saying, learning how to balance those moments when you know that your decision that is truly best for you and what you need is going to disappoint someone. Remember that two things can be true. You can do what's right for you and you can have somebody be disappointed in you and you can know that deep down, they still love you.
I mean, people that you love disappoint you all the time. All the time and you still love them. And it's a real art to learn how to be in those moments with grace and advocate for yourself and still hold space for somebody to be upset with you or disappointed in you or sad about it. That's what that moment was. It was just both of us feeling disappointed that it wasn't different. And do they tease me when they come over? Of course they did, for years, for years they did. This was pretty recently, by the way, everybody. I'm just remembering back to the fact that when I released the five second rule book, it was 2017 and I self published that and we did all of the internal layouts. Do you know what I used that pool table for? It was our creative desk where I laid out the entire design of the five second rule book. So I'm talking less than five years ago, everybody.
I had this conversation with my father. And whenever they would come visit, they would walk in and they'd look in the direction of where my office was and nice pool table. Or every time I would say, yeah, I'd love grandma's table from the kitchen. And then my mom would say something snarky like, how is it gonna end up in the basement with the pool table? You sure you want it? And you know what? They're allowed to say that. They're allowed to be disappointed. They're allowed to call me out on that. And I have to create space for them to have their feelings. And I also believe that that's one of the things we don't talk about a lot in relationships and people pleasing. Like, you think when you're people pleasing, it's all one way, it's not.
It's a give and a take. If you want other people to make room for the very real emotions that you feel and the reason why you need to put yourself first in certain circumstances, then you gotta show up and hold up your end of the bargain and make room for their feelings of disappointment and confusion and sadness. And just know that when somebody is given the space to process it or to make a joke or say something snarky, because let's face it, do you know what's underneath that snarky comment? Oh, is it gonna end up in the basement like the pool table? It's hurt, it's sadness. That's not processed in a healthy way. And so just keep in mind that yes, when you start putting yourself first and when you start making decisions, you will disappoint other people. Give them space to feel that and know that they will still love you. They do, even if they don't express it in a constructive way. And also know that you can feel guilty. I sure as hell felt guilty and you wanna know what? I still feel guilty, even though it's not my fault.
And I feel so guilty that you know what? Now that we're here in Southern Vermont and I've built this dream house of mine, I'm a damn fucking sure. There's not only space for that pool table. I built a barn so that we could put the pool table in there. So dad, I know you're listening. You get your ass up here because I'm gonna beat you in a game of pool when you do come, okay? And I can't wait. And yeah, I still feel a little guilty. Why? Guilt is good. It means I care. And it means I am expanding my capacity to live in that balance.
To do things that really work for me and know that that is not gonna work for some other people. And that's okay. That's what it's all about. Okay, let's take a quick break and hear a word from our sponsors. I might call my father on the break. I'm not gonna lie about this. And when we come back, we have a great question from a listener named Courtney. And I wanna tell you something about your brain and its connection to people pleasing. Stay with us. Welcome back. I'm Mel Robbins. We're talking about people pleasing.
And I'm really excited because we have a great question
from a listener named Courtney. Hi, Mel. This is Courtney from Louisiana. I have a question for you through therapy. I have discovered more self-love, which in turn has made me a different person. I've learned to create boundaries. My question is that I find family members are close friends that have been with me for most of my life. A lot of them don't like the new me. I think they see the new boundaries, this rejection. I've heard family members say when I say that won't work for me or things of that nature, that it's rude, unkind, unflexible, difficult. But I'm just wondering if other people have discovered that a lot of times, once you kind of enter a world of more self-love and more authenticity, if you feel a sense of rejection from others.
Courtney, I absolutely love this question. And in particular, I wanna focus in on the word rejection. When you start putting yourself first, do you feel rejection from others? The answer is yes. And I wanna now talk a little bit about why and explain a really interesting connection between your brain, the way that your brain processes stress or discomfort, and this tendency that we have to please other people instead of making the right decision for ourself. Let's just use the example of me and this pool table. For years, I knew that I wanted to disassemble the pool table. And I would walk past the room and there it is, like a New York City bus sitting in the middle of a room in a small farmhouse. And I would feel this tension in my body because I knew what I wanted, which was could I disassemble this and not disappoint my dad? Could I disassemble this and not be the world's worst daughter? How could I do that? And that tension between what I wanted, which was to have that room back, and this pain that I knew it might cause my dad, it created this awful discomfort inside of me.
Like even the idea of making the phone call, I thought about making that phone call to my father for years. And you wanna know what kept me from not making that phone call? The discomfort that I felt in my body. People pleasing is not about other people. People pleasing is your inability to tolerate that discomfort. So many of us resort to keeping the peace or staying quiet or not picking up the phone because we're terrified of creating more discomfort in our bodies. And that is what the heart of people pleasing is, that you just don't like to feel the tension of what if they're upset? What if this? What if that? And this goes all the way back to childhood. And there's a lot of research around this. In fact, based on research, this discomfort that you feel when you know that what you want is at odds with how somebody else is gonna feel, the discomfort's normal.
You're actually wired this way. And this has to do with the fact that we as human beings are designed to be in groups. We are designed to bond with other people. And when what you want, putting yourself first, is at odds with how somebody else is going to feel, it's at odds with your own wiring. And this is according to research from Dr. Juan Dominguez of Montage University in Melbourne, Australia. Dr. Dominguez says we avoid confrontation because of this uncomfortable sensation and neurologically it triggers you to try to just make the uncomfortable situation go away. Brain scans show that your prefrontal cortex, which mediates decision-making and the anterior insula shows way more activity than other regions in the brain when you're in a situation where what you want is in confrontation with somebody else. What you're experiencing and what I'm experiencing every single moment. When I walk past that room, I see the pool table, I know I'm like, God, I would love to just disassemble that, but I can't do that to my dad. He's such an awesome dude. It is such an amazing gift. What kind of a selfish piece of shit am I to even think that thought?
When you feel that wave of distress, that's cognitive dissonance. That's what's happening with you. And that uncomfortable feeling is what makes you cave. It's what turns you into a people pleaser. And that's why this is so hard. And ultimately, this is like a huge wake-up call, I hope. People pleasing is not about other people. It's about you and your inability to tolerate confrontation or discomfort in your own mind and body. And I struggle with this. That's why self-awareness is key. See, people pleasing works, that's why we do it. And so I wanna come back to the word that you used, rejection, rejection.
When you start to change, what's gonna happen? Is all that discomfort that you suppressed by keeping the peace or falling in line or saying what you think other people wanna hear or just doing what everybody else wants to do? When you start putting yourself first, that discomfort that you were suppressing now appears in the world. So I want you to expect it, everybody. And again, I talked about this in the pool table story. Just give people space to be disappointed. Just give people space to feel what they need to feel because whenever you change and you start making decisions that either go against somebody's expectations, no, I'm not coming for Thanksgiving. We're gonna stay home with the kids. My parents just did that to me. I wanted them to come up for the holidays. Really wanted them to spend Christmas with us this year. And when I invited them, they're like, thank you very much, we'd love to be with you.
And no, we make it a rule not to travel during the holidays. Have you seen the airports? They're crazy. And then of course there were these huge storms and all kinds of cancellations and they called right before Christmas like, we're glad we didn't come. But I was disappointed. Doesn't change the fact that I love them. They are just putting themselves first. That's what that is. And because they're able to do that, that tension that they'd normally be managing their body, now it comes between us because we're at odds, but that's okay. That's what life is about. And you gotta be able to work it out. And I wanna tell you one other thing.
You can use a little empathy. My parents were great when they called and said, we're not coming because they knew I was disappointed. And they also said, we'd love to see you. And we just don't wanna do it. Having done this so many years, we're over it. We don't have to be together on Christmas. Why don't you come down? Which I am, I'm going down next week and spending a week with them and be a lot easier to fly. And so they made room for my feelings and they still did what made them feel good. That's the sign of a loving relationship, loving somebody how they need and want to be loved. And so when you start to change, it's gonna change the dynamic. And the main thing to keep in mind about putting yourself first is that when you start to make decisions that work for you, it makes other people think about the decisions that they're making.
So if you start to say, no, I'm not gonna meet you at the local diner for pancakes and sausage this morning like we have every year for 10 years because I'm actually going for a training run for this 5K I'm running. They're gonna be like, what?
What do you mean? What do you mean?
You wanna know why? Because if they're used to you doing a certain thing, it is rejection. I wanted my parents to come for the holidays. And when they said, no, that's not gonna work for us, you know what that was? That's rejection because it didn't meet my expectation. But let's go back to the bottom line. I'm allowed to feel that way. And they're allowed to make decisions that they wanna make. And if we make space for each other, what comes through is the love, that's it. So give them room, expect them to feel that way. And you now understand the science. Okay, I've got another question from a listener
and her name is Anna. Hi Mel, my name's Anna. I just saw your stories and thought I'd send over a question that I've been having. I consider myself a very independent person and am definitely very disciplined in what I do. But that leads me to live a life that is very different from most of the people I surround myself with, I guess. So my question is more of how to really hone in on that discipline and keep living the life that you know you should be living, even when others don't understand it or just don't get wired while you're doing it.
Thanks. Anna, everybody that you are surrounded with right now has been on the road with you up until this point. But they have no idea what your day-to-day life is like moving forward. Because they're not living the same kind of life. And here's what I want you to understand. When this happens and you start to make very deliberate changes, whether it's in your health or maybe you've launched a business or you are tired of a gossipy, social climbing, circle of friends, and now you're seeking deeper meaning in your life, you don't have to ditch those people. They can continue to be in your life and they will be part of the rest of your life. But they're never gonna understand what you're going through because they don't live the day-to-day life that you're living. And a major mistake that I see people making is as we're making major changes, we turn to our existing friends and our family for counsel. And they have absolutely no idea what we're going through. So for example, there are very few people on the planet who actually understand what I do for a living. I can count them on one hand.
When it comes to speaking on corporate stages, hosting a podcast, creating content for people like Starbucks and LinkedIn and Audible, to being an entrepreneur, to having the social media following, to having a marriage and a family, like very few people that understand the pressure I'm under, the impact that I'm making, the goals, the hopes, the dreams, the frustrations, my husband doesn't understand it. He's not in that world. My kids don't understand it, my friends don't understand it. If I want somebody to truly understand what my life looks like, I gotta pick up the phone and call Jay Shetty, or Jana Kutcher, or Trent Shelton, like somebody who is doing what I'm doing. And it goes for everything. I'm in the middle of menopause. I'm not gonna go to a 28 year old fitness freak and ask them for advice about my stomach. They don't understand what I'm going through. And so I'm making this point because when it comes to people pleasing and when it comes to putting yourself first, the way that you continue to create discipline is twofold. You have to get super intentional about seeking out more people in your life, either through mastermind groups or following people on social media or attending online classes or going to different events. You've gotta find people who are up to what you're up to because they'll understand, they'll support you. And you have to stop seeking validation from the people that are already around you because that's not why you're doing this thing.
And here's one more thing I wanna tell you. Why do you care what they think? You already said you're independent. You already said you're putting yourself first. Why on earth would you seek validation or advice from somebody who you wouldn't trade laws with? Just stop asking people who are miserable or unqualified to validate your happiness, your life, your choices. You gotta validate yourself by making decisions that work for you. Stop looking for validation from other people, particularly other people who don't even understand themselves or what you're doing because if they can't understand themselves, if they don't understand what you're even trying to do, there's no way in hell they're ever gonna understand or endorse what you're doing. Instead, start looking to people who have made the changes that you wanna make, who have the values that you wanna make. Not only do they understand what it takes to make this change, but they also have the confidence in the track record and the experience to cheer you on. Well, we've covered a lot of ground and I think you're starting to realize, wow, this people pleasing thing isn't really about saying no, it's about self-awareness. It's about my ability to catch those moments where those uncomfortable feelings rise up and to tolerate them.
It's about my ability to know that there are gonna be times in my life where I'm gonna be making decisions that people that I deeply love are gonna be disappointed by and I can make space for both. There are gonna be times in my life where I'm pursuing a change in my lifestyle that nobody around me understands, nobody else is pursuing and I gotta stop this default of seeking validation and advice from the people who don't understand what I'm doing. And when you learn how to do that and start making decisions that really empower you in the long run, your life is gonna change. It's gonna be more meaningful. It's gonna be richer, deeper. You're gonna feel more agency and control in your life. And I know what you're thinking right now. Mel, if I'm the kind of person that has never, ever, ever put myself first, how the heck do I even know when to do it? And let me tell you something. First, you have to go back to the beginning and become self-aware and you have to get deliberate about defining the person you are becoming. Let's hear this final question
from a listener to this podcast named Nella. Hi, Mel. I am a big fan from Ireland. My name is Nella. I'm a singer-songwriter. And something that I definitely struggle with is being afraid to show up as my true, authentic self to all people at all times. Yeah, just any advice would be amazing on how to just get better at doing that and have the confidence to just be my authentic, true self all the time. That would be great.
Thank you. Nella, thank you first and foremost for your honesty. But I'm gonna say something a little provocative. You kept saying the words true, authentic self, authentic self, authentic self. And I want you to stop and ask yourself, do you even know who you are? Do you know what it means when you say, I am my true, authentic self? And the reason why I'm asking you this question is because I don't think most people do. I think we wanna be our authentic selves. Of course, but what does that even mean? Listening to your question, it reminds me, when I was writing The High Five Habit, there was a woman who wrote to me from Ireland and I ended up getting on the phone and then on a Zoom call and I spent a lot of time talking to her and she is in the book. And I wanna bring this up because I wanna make a point about the pressure that we feel to conform. So in this example of the woman from Ireland, she was writing about the fact that she wanted to get it forced.
That is her true, authentic self. Yet she had been delaying doing this for seven years because of the pressure of the Catholic church, because of the disappointment of her mother, because of what the priest might think, because of what the whole fricking country of Ireland might think. And so I'm highlighting this because for some of us, people pleasing is even deeper than sort of this discomfort. It's the social norm. Like you wouldn't be caught dead in some cultures or in some religions or in some households veering from the norm. The pressure is so intense. It's just the air that you breathe. For many people, that is the case. So if that's you, you might not even know what the authentic you is because you have been told for so long by your country, by your religion, by your family, by the community you live in, by whatever, who you're supposed to be. And I'm gonna give you a really important exercise. I want you to just imagine that you are a screenwriter. You are about to write a movie about the real you.
Write a character description and describe a day in the life of the real you. Remove the country you live in, remove the religion you grew up with or you didn't, remove the stories that you've been telling yourself or the pressure you feel or the disappointment or what other people think you should or shouldn't do. And write the story, a day in the life of who you are at your core. When you would wake up, where you would live, where you would go, what kind of work you do, what kind of friends that you have, what are your habits, what do you love doing? Who are you laughing with? This is such an important exercise because again, remember, I told you that people pleasing begins with you truly knowing yourself. If you don't really know who you are because you've always been told who to be and you've spent your life feeling like you do nothing but conforming, this is a really important step for you to take because people pleasing at its core is you believing the person that you are deep inside, it's not good enough. You're not good enough. And based on what we've talked about, you can start to change that, but you really have to go through the steps of getting curious about who you are for real. And if the idea of you having a conversation like I did with my dad, or you telling somebody that you're not coming over for dinner because you're tired and that's the truth, or saying that, nope, you can't borrow my pickup truck again, I don't lend it out anymore. If that makes you really uncomfortable, here's a tool that you can use to start to experiment with that moment of discomfort. And the tool is called Switch, and this comes from research.
You don't have to say yes. You're gonna go from saying, sure, I'll let you borrow my car, or sure we'll come to Thanksgiving, or sure I'll do that, or yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Switch to a pause, I'll think about it. Let me check my calendar, I'll get back to you on that. When you switch your yes to a pause and you buy yourself some time, you're gonna feel a little less pressure. For example, when you say, let me get back to you, 20 minutes later, you can email back and say, thank you so much for the invitation, I'm booked. Or send no over text if it's too hard to say it in person. Or say no over the phone if you don't want to say it to their face. But switching from feeling the pressure to say yes to putting yourself in a pause, that's what I want you to practice. Because if you can say, I'll get back to you, let me think about it. You've got time to settle those uncomfortable feelings. Because remember, it's not about the other person, it's about you not being able to tolerate that discomfort that rises up.
And then you immediately make the discomfort going away by going, oh, okay, fine, I'll do it. No, switch into pause, switch into pause, because in that pause, you're gonna find some peace. In that pause is where you're gonna find that balance. And I'm gonna give you one more quick little example about how this works. So I was in Las Vegas and we were on day 15 of a 16 day business trip. And we landed late and we did a tech check because I was delivering a speech in the morning and we were about to head up to the hotel. It was eight o'clock at night. And I turned to my friends and I'm like, we should probably get something to eat because we haven't eaten since lunch. I know it's late and we're gonna get up early and then I'm gonna have to race and do this speech and we're not having any food in our stomach. So we went straight to the steakhouse that was in the casino. We walk in there wearing sweats off an airplane. It is 8.30 at night.
This place has a freaking DJ in the bar. People are thumping and bumping and glitters and sparkles everywhere. They seat us right away in the bar at a high top. The three of us order immediately because we were gonna shovel down that food. I got the filet mignon and some mashed potatoes and we got mocktails and right above our head was this speaker that was like, boom, boom, boom, boom. I mean, it was like zero to a thousand inside this place. I was not ready for this. I just wanted to get some protein in my stomach and get to bed because I had a speech to give and I was exhausted. So we're eating and we're kind of bopping and talking and right when the steak comes, I hand the waitress my credit card and say, just bring us the bill, because I'm gonna take off. And so I finished really quickly and I look up and my friend, Amy, who I'm traveling with, I'm not kidding. She has taken three bites of her steak, which is sliced with perfection on top of an enormous salad. I'm finished.
I am clean plate club. I am ready to fall asleep despite the like, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, music. I look over at Amy. She is eating in slow motion. She is enjoying every bite. I think she is engaged in a mindfulness meditation with this steak and salad at this point. And as I assess what is left on her plate, I think this is gonna fucking take her 20 minutes to eat. It is 9.30 at night. I am exhausted. This is the moment I'm talking about everybody. This is the balance, because the wave of discomfort comes up in my body. I wanna leave.
I wanna go to bed and I don't wanna be a douche. I mean, here, one of my closest friends is sitting here enjoying a salad. We've been on the road together. I'm like a ride or die kind of person. What kind of a jerk leaves their female friend alone at a high top in a bar with a salad that has 85% to go in terms of completion just because they're tired? I do. That's a joke. No, it's a balancing act. I said to myself, well, what's really gonna serve me? Because my number one job is to kill it in that speech tomorrow. Is to ask Amy if it would be okay for me to go upstairs and just go to bed. The old Mel would've been like, I would've just sat there because it would be rude to leave somebody.
And oftentimes, we don't even ask. We don't even ask and Amy sitting right over there. So Amy, I want you to get on the mic because I rode the balancing act. I use the tools and I turn to her because a lot of this is also about the context and it's about how you say it. It's not what you're saying, it's how you say it. And so you don't be like, I'm leaving out of here, bitches. That's not what I said. I just said, Aime, would it be okay if I head upstairs and go to sleep? I'm exhausted.
And Aimee, what was your experience at this moment? I was relieved. I felt like, thank God, because I do not want her to sit and watch me savoring every bite. I wanted you to do you, and I wanted me to do me, which was enjoy my steak and salad.
So when you noticed that my plate was clean, and so was Melinda's, and you still had 20 minutes to go, what were you feeling?
Honestly, I was happy you asked, because we talked about it and made it a win-win situation.
I wanted you to hear that, and this is why. You often don't even ask. And Aimee was relieved that I asked, because you know what? She doesn't want to sit there and feel pressure. She wanted to enjoy her salad, and that's exactly what she did. Melinda and I went upstairs. She sat there for another 25 minutes bopping and weaving, alone having the best salad of her life without her annoying friends sitting there staring at her like she was some kind of a zoo animal. So we all won animal. Bottom line, people pleasing, it's not about the other people, it's about you. So notice when it comes up. Notice that discomfort. Find the strength to say no.
I'm not gonna sit here with this discomfort and do something that doesn't serve me. When you have the ability to recognize this, and you have the ability to say no, I'm not gonna just fall into line. No means that you're in charge of your life. No strengthens your self-discipline. No keeps your goals and your happiness front and center. It can make you stronger so that you change patterns and habits that don't serve you. Because when you don't say no, you're saying yes to something else. It is powerful. When you say no, I am not gonna do that. I'm gonna ride this uncomfortable wave, and I'm gonna do what works for me, and I'm gonna know at the end that you can be disappointed, and you're still gonna love me, But I'm gonna love myself a little bit more because every time you say yes to you, you are proving to yourself that you deserve to be happy. You deserve to have support. You deserve to go to bed in Vegas cause it's late and you deserve to have that room back because you need it and you deserve to do things that really work for you.
So start saying no, start tolerating the discomfort, Switch your yes to a pause and put yourself back in charge. Your happiness, your life, it starts with you. Always, always, always, always. And I know you can do it and I want you to do it. So today when those uncomfortable emotions rise up and that balancing act, it is here, do it, do you. And know that in case that person's disappointed, remember your friend Mel Robbins, I love you and I believe in you and I believe in your ability to create a better life for you. Oh, one more thing, it's the legal language. This podcast is presented solely for educational and entertainment purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician, professional coach, psychotherapist or other qualified professional. Stitcher.