5 Ways to Stop Being a People Pleaser

Written by on August 15, 2015 in Conscious Living, Happiness & Humor, Thrive with 0 Comments

Claire Hodgson | Tiny Buddha

People-Pleaser

“One of the most freeing things we learn in life is that we don’t have to like everyone, everyone doesn’t have to like us, and it’s perfectly okay.” ~Unknown


I have a confession to make: I am a recovering people pleaser.

If I had a dollar for every time I did something that I didn’t want to do because I didn’t want people to be angry or disappointed if I said no, I would be a rich woman.

I say that I am recovering because, as with any ingrained pattern, sometimes I slip back into the tendency to put other people’s wants before myself and my needs.

When I talk about putting other people’s needs before your own as a pleaser, I don’t mean being there for someone or helping someone in a way that you want to. If you want to help someone, or you compromise with someone that you care about to come up with a solution that works for both of you, that’s healthy.

Pleaser behavior goes beyond this and becomes unhealthy when:

  • You say yes to something that you really don’t want to do just to keep someone happy and have an ‘easy’ life
  • You feel uncomfortable about a situation that you’re in but carry on regardless; for example, being asked to do something dishonest or that isn’t in line with your values
  • You feel exhausted and depleted from putting everyone else’s needs before your own and not taking the time out to practice self-care
  • If you do say no (for whatever reason) then you make excuses and spend a lot of time feeling guilty afterwards.

Luckily, there are some ways that you can start to manage your people pleaser tendencies. Here are five of the most effective actions and mindset shifts that have worked for me:


1. Make peace with the fact that not everyone is going to like you—and actually, that’s okay.

The quote at the start of this article says it all. It certainly set my own mindset shift into motion a few years ago when I decided enough was enough and that I was going to start putting myself first.

When I feel my own pleaser instincts kick in, I always take the time to remember that it’s okay for people not to like me; I don’t like everyone and everyone isn’t going to like me.

As a pleaser your main drive will be to do everything in your power to make someone like you. For me, and for many other pleasers, this comes from a place of severe low self-esteem. Basically, when people like you, you like yourself; when they don’t, your opinion of yourself drops.

The best way to lessen the need for validation from others is to start working on loving yourself and increasing your self-esteem.

As a starting point list all of the things that you love about yourself. Aim for at least ten things initially, and refer back to it and add to it regularly. Also, start treating yourself as you would a loved one or really good friend, and start connecting with people who love and accept themselves as they are. Model their behavior until it becomes your own.

2. Learn to say no in a way that feels okay to you. (No making excuses allowed!)

“No” is a word that many of us could stand to use a little more often. How many times have you said no only to go back on your decision when put under a little bit of pressure from another person?

I used to do that all the time, or I would say no and then make a number of excuses to justify my decision (many of these were white lies to make saying no more feasible).

The thing with making excuses rather than offering a firm and honest no, complete with a truthful reason that you can stick to, is that it opens up the possibility of negotiation with the other person. If that happens, your inner pleaser is likely to give in and you’ll once again find yourself doing things that you don’t want to do and putting yourself last.

So, how do you stop this behavior? Say no in a way that feels good to you, but in a way that is strong.

You don’t have to use a one-word answer, but you should be truthful; for example, “I would love to help, but unfortunately I have booked a me day that day,” or “That sounds like a great opportunity, but I think someone else would be better placed to help.”

Stick to the original answer and if someone tries to enter into negotiation them simply but firmly repeat it.

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