Fibromyalgia Action UK
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Are you a "people pleaser" & put others before you?

I have realised I am doing this more and more, especially with my sister. I tend to think of others first and put myself second. But my sister definitely does not consider me first I think I am quite a long way down her list but then I feel grateful when she does contact me :-(

So, how do I stop this behaviour as I feel like a doormat!! I think some of it's due to being poorly and feeling guilty about it.

14 Replies

Hi Sarah

I know just how you feel. I have done this all my life. It has got me nowhere! It got worse when I got ill - I felt so useless and a burden, and guilty for all the things I couldn't do.

Trying desperately to grow a thicker skin now, and put myself first, but at the same time don't want to just become selfish. Actually I LIKE the fact that I care about other people, that I will always do what I can to help, to listen, to support. But I want to do this from a feeling of equality, from doing it because I want to, not because I feel I HAVE to in order to prove my worth, or from guilt because I can't do all the things I used to do.

It's not easy is it? It's a balance, and I know I haven't got it right yet, but I think the pendulum swings are getting smaller! So I'm getting closer.




Hi Kaz

Thank you for replying - it is very difficult and I need to stop this now before it gets me down any more. I almost feel grateful when anyone does actually contact me - how sad is that?? x


I know. This ****** illness can really lead to feeling isolated. On this forum we have the antidote to that. There are always people here (even in the middle of the night), and they are people who understand the ups and downs and challenges of living in a fibro-world.

We even have our own mad little world - today it is located inside a circus tent, and you would be very welcome to come and join us, whether as a 'volunteer' - I'm sure I can find you a job - or as audience.

Its not the same as having friends and family around you, who support you, and understand that some days are better and some days are worse and some days are just different, but I find it is a real help, and and has helped me to understand myself and my illness more too.

Maybe you can find a way of telling your sister that you would like her to initiate more contact, but in a way that invites her to do it, rather than sounds like a criticism of her not doing it?


Yes i'd love to join the circus - lion tamer perhaps??

I have approached me sister before and she got really defensive (as she usually does) and denied she was doing anything wrong. The day she apologies is very far off I think - she definitely thinks she is always right...........then that makes me feel like I'm a whinging old bag! We used to be close when we were younger but not so in the last 10 years or so. We lead very different lives now I suppose xx


Please hurry up - the lions are rampaging out of control, and VG is stuck on a trapeze, trembling with fear!

Actually - take your time. If she's stuck up there, she's not getting up to anything fishy anywhere else - haha! :-)


Hi Sarah, i do this all the time and youve hit the nail on the head for the reason why....yes i feel guilty for being unable to do things and always being in pain so i think i compensate by being a doormat. My OH is moving to canada in a few weeks for work reasons and he will be home every 3 months, for a month and i know the kids are going to play me up something rotten! I dont mean being naughty but i will be their personal slave as they are bad enough for it at the minute but once OH goes it will be much worse!

You say that you are a long way down your sisters list...why? What does she do or not do to make you think that?

People can be very thoughtless at times and sometimes its intentional and i do believe some people are just born selfish and others like you and i get taken advantage of a lot but then do we do anything to end this cycle? I sometimes have the best intentions of standing up for myself and saying "Right, this is not acceptable" but then something always happens like a flare up or im just too exhausted to argue.

I hope someone comments on ways for us to end this cycle....i will give it a go if you will! Lots of hugs to you Charlii xx


Hi Charli - thanks for replying, I am pleased I'm not the only doormat!

Re my sister, she always organises to see her other friends/my parents and never offers to come over and see me. It is always me that has to ring her/text her to see how she is. She will not put herself out for me at all and gets funny with me if I have to cancel a meeting or phone call due to feeling ill. But then I seem to jump when she calls. She seems to dictate when we can meet/talk on the phone and it all fits around her life. Makes me sad :-( xx


I used to be, now I try and be a people balancer, I have grown a thicker skin over the years with fibro and have learnt to say no, but I also try and offer an alternative that is acceptable to me and hopefully to the other person. Of course it doesn't always work, but as my OH says, you offered an alternative that's your best if they don't like it tough.... Strangely it was until about a year ago my mum who found it hardest to accept my limitations, it caused me a lot of heartache at the time but looking back now I can see maybe she COULD not handle that I was so ill and it was too much for her... Just keep on trying ... It takes a lot of time to adjust with fibro especially if you were used to helping people naturally before fibro grabbed you. Just take each day at a time tell yourself all the time I AM doing my best and hopefully you will find your pendulum swings the way that you want and the MOST important people to you will accept it happily

VG x

1 like

Hi VG, thank you for taking the time to reply.

It sounds like you have got a good balance going, well done.

I do feel sometimes that if I say "no" or tell my sister I can't make it due to being ill she just won't bother with me again which seems to be happening anyway. My other family members are so much more understanding so I don't know what her problem is. She has treated me quite badly in the past too so this sits badly with me I suppose. I must stop it though as it 's driving me insane. I agree with your OH and that's what my OH says too! He's not bothered what others think :-) xx


Sounds like you have a great OH like myself , that's a big plus

You take care

VG x


It certainly is, I don't know what I'd do without him x x x


Hi Sarah .. I think a lot of us experience this because we naturally have caring personalities and feel bad about saying "no". I asked a question on here 2 days ago "how do you deal with confrontation/arguments? which deals with some issues about why we feel that we cannot say no. We hate to hurt other people's feelings because it may lead to conflict which in turn leads to us getting upset ourselves. It is far easier for us to agree with what others are asking us to do than try and disagree and risk an argument which only causes us upset. Hope this makes sense. I am slowly trying to learn how to say "no"(in a nice way!) so as not to upset either party when someone is asking too much of me or to find a suitable compromise that both parties can agree on. I know it is difficult to do this because people are used to me being a "bit of a pushover" but I am working on it. Try not to feel guilty but you must put yourself first (because you will find that everyone around you will put themselves first). It's time to make others understand that you matter as much as they do!! If you cannot come to a suitable compromise then you must just agree to disagree!! Pluck up your courage and be strong and in the long run you will feel better about yourself. Don't forget we are all supporting you. Xx


Hi all , the more I read on this site the more I'm amazed how alike we all are, the lady who wrote about her sister It could have been me !!! For 13yrs I've had fibro but I've found myself taking my sister shopping ! Taking her child to school and looking after her during holidays even taking her along om my holiday !!! My sister used to say are you going anywhere nice today ? I told her time & time how ill I am but she didn't listen

Two yrs ago she had a slight stroke , I was at the hospital daily , as she got better her arms hurt And back , one day her dr said you are having fibro type pains !!!! Would you believe she now rings me every day to tell me how ill she is & to take her shopping !!! She even told me how fibro pains affect you !!!!! Someone gave her a leaflet !!!! I think her pains are from the stroke , she hasnt complained of the things that the people on here that have fibro and I still don't think she cares that i do!!!!!!! She wants me and my hubby running her around while her husbands in the pub !!!!!! I've learnt to say no more but I still fall in the trap because she rings and I may mention that we have to go out and she's asking to come before I realise ???? Then my husband moans at me for saying yes !!!!!!! It does seem that people who have always done for others are the ones that get this awfull fibro !!!!

Take care out there xxx


These posts have made me cry. I have always been a people pleaser, but now I am old with RA and fibro all the people I pleased, but can no longer please, have all but disappeared, and the few who are still around are VERY busy.

Even my son who owes me big time puts all the others before me I even feel I come after his dog. Strange that doesn't seem too bad as the dog is dependent on him, I think he is a people pleaser too, to every Tom Dick & Harry, I think, as we are close by, and I have always been there for him He doesn't seem to understand that I am not always going to be here for him. I feel as if I am on his "to do" list, the list most of us have and never get to the bottom of as we insert other things that come along.

I actually have great difficulty asking for help and feel I am bothering people as I was always self reliant, if it needed doing I got it done, now I feel useless and a burden.



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