5 Lies Anxiety tells People Pleasers

We all have anxiety sometimes, about some things. Anxiety can distort thoughts. And this is just as true for people pleasers as anyone. In fact, buying into the lies anxiety tells people pleasers is what often keeps them stuck in self-defeating behaviors.

By the way, a people pleaser is someone who tends to go along with what others want, even at the cost of their own well-being.

So without further ado, here are 5 lies anxiety tells people pleasers… and the TRUTH.

Lie #1: People are judging you.

Anxiety: People are judging you and thinking that you’re a terrible person, or that you’re making bad decisions.

Truth: Everyone is too busy thinking about themselves to spend much time on you. And even if they are, who cares? They don’t know you as well as your supportive friends and family, who know you’re a good person.

Lie #2: No one can be mad at you.

Anxiety: You can’t do anything that might make someone mad at you. If someone gets mad at you, they will abandon you.

Truth: You cannot control whether other people get mad at you, no matter how hard you might try. Every relationship has conflict sometimes. Not every relationship works out, but the ones that do are the ones in which both parties are able to talk through inevitable problems.

Lie #3: You’re a doormat.

Anxiety: You don’t stand up for yourself because you’re a doormat.

Truth: Sometimes there are really good reasons why you didn’t confront someone at a particular time. And actually, there have probably been more times than you think when you have stood up for yourself. They may just not be at the forefront of your mind, especially when your already feeling bad about yourself.

Lie #4: You deserve to be treated badly.

Anxiety: If someone treats you poorly or talks negatively about you, it’s because you did something wrong, or there’s something wrong with you.

Truth: Nobody deserves to be treated badly, no matter what they have or haven’t done. The way other people treat you does not reflect on who you are as a person, or even your behaviors. It is out of your control and sometimes totally unrelated. Sometimes people are projecting or responding to their own baggage.

Lie #5: You have to be what others expect.

Anxiety: If you disagree with someone or express your real opinions, no one will like you. So you can’t be your true self – you have to go along with others.

Truth: Believe it or not, people actually like people who disagree with them. It shows that they are trustworthy. You can absolutely be yourself and have people like you. Try it and see the results!

What lies would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments!


Find out if you’re a people pleaser.

Learn about the link between perfectionism and procrastination.

Cost-Effective Tips to Sleep Better and Boost your Mental Health

Hi folks!

This week I’m featuring a guest writer… mental health blogger Cheryl Conklin! Enjoy her fantastic post on free or low-cost tips to sleep better. And if you’d like to see more content from her, visit her website.


Have you been struggling to get enough sleep? If you’re struggling with sleeplessness or insomnia, you’re more at risk of developing a mental health concern, and if you suffer from depression or anxiety, lack of sleep will make your condition even worse. Improve your sleep habits and boost your mental health with these money-saving options for better sleep.

Sleep and Mental Health

If you’ve been sleeping poorly, then you’re likely to experience low energy, reduced productivity, and increased irritability and moodiness. You may start to notice fluctuations in your weight, and have difficulty remembering details. Sleep and mental health are closely linked and sleeping poorly will negatively impact your mental health.

Finding your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and sticking with it will help you sleep better; if you naturally feel sleepy at 10 pm, give yourself permission to go to sleep early and wake up early. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend any money to develop a healthy sleep routine.

Reducing Stress

Reducing stress is extremely important when it comes to managing your mental health. At the end of each night, give yourself an hour to wind down. Turn off your TV, put your phone away, and dim the lighting as you focus on managing your overall stress levels. You can practice relaxation or deep breathing techniques, take a warm bath, or listen to an audiobook — there are plenty of free options available online.

Practice reducing stress during the day by focusing on one task at a time, avoiding incessantly checking your phone, and taking a break from multitasking. In the evening you’ll be able to relax more easily, and enjoy a peaceful night. If you have trouble putting the phone down, there are free smartphone apps that help your mind unwind.

Make your Room the Perfect Place to Sleep

You may think you can sleep anywhere, but taking the time to make your room the perfect place for deep sleep will improve your sleep and help you maintain your mental health.

Start by turning down the temperature. Not only will this help you sleep, but it will also save you money! It can be difficult to sleep if the room is too warm, and the ideal sleeping temperature is around 65 degrees.

Next, make sure your bed is comfortable with a firm mattress, soft sheets, and a pillow that’s designed for your sleeping position. If you’re in the market for some new bedclothes, Today.com has a list of affordable retailers that can help keep those costs down.

Devices that Can Help you Sleep

If you’ve been struggling to sleep, and it’s causing more stress and anxiety in your life, you can find some helpful devices to sleep better. A white noise machine can help you sleep soundly through the night, make it easier to fall asleep, and lowering your chances of waking during the night. Check your local Kohls or shop online with Kohls coupons and promo codes for the best
money-saving options on devices that will help you sleep.

Other items that can help you sleep include weighted blankets, a quality memory foam pillow, a light alarm clock that will wake you peacefully without the loud alarm, and a sleep tracker to give you accurate information about your sleep patterns.

Natural Remedies to Sleep Better

If you want some natural remedies to help you sleep better, try melatonin for natural sleep. Melatonin is the hormone your body produces in the evening, and taking a melatonin supplement will encourage your body to sleep. Valerian root is another popular natural remedy and this plant also treats anxiety and depression.

Essential oils such as sweet marjoram or roman chamomile can be used as an effective sleep supplement. Lavender has a soothing aroma that encourages deep sleep, and a scented pillow or essential oil diffuser can help you sleep. Using natural remedies is a cost-effective, safe, and healthy way to sleep better.

Are you tired of tossing and turning all night? Follow these tips for better sleep, and boost your mental health. Find ways to reduce your stress during the day and the night, make your room cozy, and find the natural remedies that will help you sleep soundly.

Am I in a Toxic Relationship?

Trigger warning: Verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse are referenced in this post and specific examples are given.

Cutting ‘toxic’ people out of our lives seems to be the talk of the town these days. But what does it actually mean?

Toxic relationships can be with a significant other, but they can also occur within friendships, family relationships… even work relationships, like between a boss and employee.

Here, in no particular order, are 10 signs that a relationship you’re in may be toxic.

#1. Feeling like you’re constantly walking on eggshells

When you’re around the person in question, do you choose your words painstakingly carefully? And even then, sometimes one little thing you say turns into a blowout argument, or the silent treatment?

In a healthy relationship, both parties can express themselves openly and disagree. If you don’t feel emotionally safe to do so, it could be a sign that the relationship is toxic.

#2. Put-downs and insults

“You’re so dumb.” “Why do you dress like a slut?” “Hey a**hole! Answer your phone!”

These words and phrases may be played off as “just a joke,” or dismissed – “You know I didn’t mean it.”

But put-downs hurt, and they erode self-esteem over time. Put-downs and insults constitute verbal and emotional abuse, and are a sign of toxicity.

#3. Lying

Sometimes, it can be really hard to tell if someone is lying. Especially if you have a history of relationships with people who lied and cheated. You may be very attuned to behaviors or reactions that may not actually indicate dishonesty.

That said, most people who lie are in the habit of doing so. Sooner or later, they will be caught.

Honesty and trust are necessary to create a foundation for a healthy relationship. Without them, it’s nearly impossible to establish a healthy dynamic.

#4. Minimizing feelings and accomplishments

One of the most common ways that people minimize feelings is accusing someone of being “too sensitive” or “overreacting.”

If something hurts your feelings, it hurts your feelings! Period, end of story. You have every right to feel angry, sad, disappointed, or whatever else.

In a healthy relationship, each person understands and takes ownership for how they’ve hurt the other, even if it was unintentional.

In a toxic relationship, career choices or hobbies (in addition to feelings) could be dismissed as being silly or outlandish, or not acknowledged at all. A healthier dynamic occurs when each person supports one another and their dreams.

#5. Power struggles and ultimatums

A power struggle occurs when both parties in a relationship are refusing to budge, waiting for the other person to give in to what they want or how they see things. The problem with power struggles is that they don’t get anyone anywhere, except feeling angrier and more resentful than when they began.

An ultimatum is the biggest power struggle of all. There may be rare occasions when ultimatums are an effective choice. When people use ultimatums frequently or ineffectively, it’s not a good sign.

#6. Emotional withholding

… also known as “the silent treatment” or “the cold shoulder.” Emotional withholding is a lack of physical affection or praise and positive feedback (There’s a great post on emotional withholding here). Often, one person will emotionally withhold when the other has done something they dislike; this manipulates the other person into doing what they want more often.

In healthy relationships, both parties are able to provide the other with physical and verbal affection, and talk to each other about their emotions.

#7. Gaslighting

If you aren’t familiar with the term gaslighting, it means slowly making someone feel ‘crazy.’ People gaslight people by dismissing their experiences, telling them they aren’t remembering things correctly, or that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Gaslighting is a form of emotional manipulation meant to chip away at the target’s self-esteem. It’s a common sign of relationship toxicity.

#8. Mismatched effort

In toxic relationships, one person may invest significantly more effort than the other. For example, one person works, parents, cooks, cleans, works on themselves, tries to understand the other person… and the other person? They… don’t do much. Perhaps in a friendship, this would look like one person making plans all the time, giving rides or lending money, while the other doesn’t reciprocate.

There are times in every relationship when one person might get sick or have financial problems, and need more help than the other for a while. But if this dynamic persists over months or years, or is extremely pronounced, it may be a sign of a toxic relationship.

#9. Lack of privacy

If one or both people in the relationship read one another’s texts and e-mails, keep tabs on the other’s whereabouts, and/or don’t do anything without the other, this indicates a lack of privacy. We want to be open and honest in relationships, but at the same time, some space and time apart is good. Space indicates trust and establishes each of you as individuals.

#10. Physical or sexual abuse

When most of us think of physical abuse, we picture someone with a black eye. And certainly, punching and hitting constitute physical abuse. But physical abuse can also look like physical intimidation by cornering someone or blocking a doorway. Physical abuse can be grabbing someone’s shoulders or arms. Destroying someone’s property is also physical abuse. And sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual contact (not limited to penetration), including kissing, oral sex, and so on.

I know this is a lot of detail to go into, but it’s important for people to know so they can recognize the signs. Be aware that what may start out as small infractions can escalate quickly.

I think I might be in a toxic relationship. Now what?

Common sense would say that the best thing to do is leave the relationship right away.

I want to be very clear: that is NOT a one-size-fits-all solution.

Many people in toxic relationships are dependent on the other person for money, housing and so on, or are afraid that if they leave, the other person may try to find them and retaliate. Sound like you? You may want to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

If you might be in a toxic relationship, I highly recommend seeing a clinical therapist such as myself or someone in your area. Individual, family therapy, or both may help. Even if your concerns don’t feel ‘severe,’ you may benefit from talking to someone about them.

Remember: My blog posts are intended to provide general information, and do not constitute therapy.

Learn more about teletherapy.

Find out more about anger and forgiveness.

3 Misconceptions about Psychotherapy

Over the winter holidays, I was talking to some of my extended family members about what I do (I’m a clinical social worker / therapist). The conversation reminded me of all the misconceptions about psychotherapy out there.

Most people’s first or only exposure to therapy is on T.V. And on T.V., therapists are typically portrayed as three things: lazy, a scam artist, or a hot mess.

There are starting to be some better portrayals of therapists in the media, but I’ll leave that for another post.

Naomi Watts as psychotherapist Jean Holloway is the hot mess archetype.

The other association that most people have with therapy is Freud. Admittedly, Freud laid a lot of the groundwork for psychology. But the field has changed so much since the turn of the last century. I mean, think of how much the medical field has changed in the past 100 years – the same is true for mental health treatment.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is still practiced today, but even that approach has come a long way, baby.

Sigmund Freud: A blessing and a curse to psychotherapists everywhere.

So if you’ve been hesitating to seek therapy because you don’t want to lay back on a couch and talk about your mother, hold onto your hat! Here are 3 of the most common myths about therapy, explained.

Misconception #1. Therapy is only for ‘crazy’ people.

I’ve been trying (admittedly, without much success) to eliminate the word ‘crazy’ from my vocabulary.

‘Crazy’ is a word that we use to label people whose behavior that doesn’t make sense to us, or seems out of control.

But when you get to know people, there IS an explanation for their behavior like, 99% of the time. We just don’t always know what it is.

Many people with mental illnesses DO go to therapy. But people with mental illnesses aren’t ‘crazy.’ They’re just people. And mental illness is just a part of the complex people that they are.

Fine, then: Therapy is only for mentally ill people. What makes that a misconception?

People seek therapy for a huge variety of reasons; mental illness is just one of them.

People also go to therapy to cope with grief, marriage, divorce, career changes, moves, adjusting to life with a new baby… the list goes on and on.

Life is tough, and the ways we respond to stressors can be weird and confusing. Having a therapist to talk everything over with can be really helpful.

Misconception #2. All people talk about in therapy is their childhood traumas.

This misconception definitely stems from Freud. He theorized that all of our problems in adulthood can be traced back to unmet needs in our childhood. There’s some truth to that theory.

The point of therapy is to focus on your goals, and what is helpful for you. Talking about the past is helpful for some people, but not everyone.

No therapist worth their salt will force you to talk about things you don’t want to talk about. That could be re-traumatizing.

You may start out not wanting to talk about your past, but be more open to the idea once you trust your therapist. That happens all the time. The point is, it’s up to YOU and your therapist to make that decision.

Then, what do you talk about in therapy?

Your life. Your career, your relationships, what you’re struggling with, what’s going well…

Many people spend their therapy hour learning about different emotions, or how anxiety works, or learning a breathing technique to help them cope. Again, it all depends on your wants and needs.

If you’re not sure what your wants and needs are right now, that’s okay! That’s something you and your therapist can figure out together.

Misconception #3. Therapists give advice.

Advice is telling someone what you would do in their situation, or what you think the best course of action is.

Therapists don’t do that.

Why? Well… because we know that we’re not you. We know that you are an entirely separate person with different goals and a different perspective than us.

Our goal is to help you towards what you want, not what we think is best for you.

So what do therapists do?

We help people weigh the pros and cons of decisions they have to make. We ask key questions to get people to consider different facets of a decision. We reflect back the logic and emotional reactions we’re hearing from them.

Most importantly, we give people a safe space to make decisions without judgment. If you’ve never experienced that before, let me tell you as someone who’s been in therapy before, it’s pretty valuable.

What other misconceptions about psychotherapy come to mind? Comment below. I bet there are enough out there that I could make a few more posts.