People Pleasing 101

People Pleasing 101 – How to stop this unhealthy behavior and mindset?

Being a people pleaser does have some advantages. For example, people pleasers are extraordinary amateur counselors. They are excellent listeners who open themselves up to hearing what others have to say. They are the easy-going beings of any group who help infuse a bit of balance during times of chaos. You generally won’t catch these folks bucking the trend or instigating arguments.

People pleasers are all around us. Being a people pleaser sounds wonderful and kind –right? Someone who is willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good is doing great things.

Not so fast. Being a people pleaser is fine so long as it is not self-destructive behavior. Some people pleasers are a danger to themselves, and on some rare occasions, they are a hazard to others.

Being an all-around nice person who is well-liked is not a bad thing as the world needs more good people in it. However, some people pleasers are at significant risk for inflicting of self-harm if they are always prioritizing everyone else’s needs above their own.

Related: 3 Reasons We Get “Stuck” In Life – And How To Bounce Back Strong

Why are some individuals people pleasers

Why are some of us people pleasers? What causes us to venture into the abyss of trying to please everyone?

Family Lessons

As young children, we taught the difference between being good and being bad. Good behavior helps to keep the peace and is rewarded while bad behavior and behavior that perhaps bucks the trend of what is considered to be proper behavior is penalized.

Fear of Rejection

Some of us merely want to be liked. We are slow to say ‘no’ or share our true opinions about things because we fear it might trigger rejection from co-workers or friends if they learn who we really are as individuals.

Fear of Constructive Feedback

Some of us don’t receive criticism well. People pleasers do not like to feel as though they are under attack for being their authentic selves and therefore, they do not wish to receive constructive feedback for their decisions or actions.

Fear of failure

Meanwhile, some individuals are afraid that if they do not spend their need complying with what others expect of them, they will fall. Everything they need to succeed will crumble, and they will have nothing.

Related: How to Embrace Growth Mindset to Reprogram YOUR Brain for Success

Fear of being alone

Some people do not want to be alone. Therefore, they do what they deem is necessary to please others.

Low Self-Esteem and self worth

Another reason that some people tend to become people pleasers has to do with low-self-esteem. People with low self-esteem have an inherent need to prove their worth and do it by being excessively kind or helpful to people who do not appreciate it.

They are desperate to be liked, and they believe that if they say ‘yes’ to everyone people ask of them, they will be likeable. This likability helps them to feel worthy.

Signs you might be a people pleaser

Still not sure if you are a people pleaser? The signs are probably there, but you are missing them. Here are a few common characteristics for you to consider.

You easily backdown during an argument

One sign that you may be a people pleaser is the fact that you agree with everyone about everything –even when you don’t. How many arguments do you lose in which you come out of the discussion with minimal gain?

People pleasers are rarely ever able to argue in their favor. Often, they will back down during an argument and give in to what the other person wants.

You keep your opinion to yourself

People pleasers are not stupid people. They have feelings, ideas, and experiences that can impart wisdom under some of the worst circumstances, but when acting the role of a people pleaser, they are not very likely to share any information that might contradict someone else.

If you find yourself burying your opinion or ideas during a conversation because you are concerned that someone may not agree with what you have to offer, it is possible that you are a people pleaser.

You rarely put your needs above others

People pleasers are not the greatest at prioritizing their needs ahead of others. This quest for approval from their users often triggers them to sacrifice themselves and potentially their family members.

Related: What is a Flexible Mindset?

You never make time for yourself

Self-prioritization is not the practice of a people pleaser. They will sacrifice their time and space for the object of their people-pleasing behaviors –meaning, they will miss out a good night’s rest, skip meals and family time to meet the needs of others.

You give no voice to your feelings

You are not likely to tell folks what you feel including when you are angry, sad, happy or disappointed. Any emotion you might exhibit is often false.

You sacrifice your financial stability for others

Some people pleasers will give their rent money to someone asking, just to please them. Have you ever given someone your last $40 even though it was supposed to last you for a full week until the next payday?

Your relationships are not mutually beneficial

As a people pleaser, you are often involved in one-way relationships in which you give everything of themselves –time, money, support, love, and friendship without receiving the same in return.

You often do not even realize you are doing it. You may find yourself taking on the role of a rescuer who is there to fix whatever may be broken.

You are always apologizing

Do you find yourself apologizing on a regular basis for not living up to someone’s ‘ask’ of you? Even when you were not wrong, the words ‘I’m sorry’ slip out as an effort to appease this person?

People pleasers are willing to take the blame for things which are not their fault.

You feel overwhelmed because you can’t say ‘no’

If you feel like you are always carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, chances are you might be doing just that as a people pleaser.

People pleasers take on a lot of extra work. People pleasers are not good at saying ‘no’ – even to the most outlandish of requests that may come form family, friends, co-workers or strangers.

Consequences of Being a people Pleaser

Your argument for people pleasing probably centers around the idea that it is far easier to keep people happy by giving in to what it is they want than flat out denying them. However, what consequences are you creating for yourself by merely giving in without little regard for your needs? According to Psychology Today, acting as a people pleaser has many, negative implications for your emotional, mental and physical well-being.

Being taken for granted

As a people pleaser, the world naturally takes you for granted with time. People lose all respect for your personal needs and expect you to prioritize their needs over everything else.

Self Neglect

People pleasers are notorious for not paying attention to their own basic needs. A people pleaser might put their safety at risk if they are not careful because they minimize the need to take good care of themselves.

Loss of Identity

You lose your identity because you are so worried about what others need or what that other person or group of people might think. Often, being a people pleaser requires you not to share what you are feeling or what your knowledge and experience tells you about a situation. Being a people pleaser requires you to act at the behest of others.

Resentment of others

People pleasing can become a heavy weight of responsibility as time passes.
Despite your people-pleasing ways, you may find that you often lash out at others. Giving so much of yourself to others is an exhausting and overwhelming effort, and it can make you physically and mentally ill with time. It’s no wonder that if you do not take care of yourself or your spend an excessive amount of time helping others with no real reward that you might begin to unravel and resent those around you at some point.

Depression and Anxiety

Your altruistic nature as a pleaser can get you a little bit of trouble with your mental health if you are not careful.

Poor decision-maker

People pleasers are not the best at making decisions. Again, the easier answer for them might be, to please a single individual but at what peril to the group or their self-worth for that matter might decision create?


People pleasing is stressful. Trying to be everything for everybody to meet their needs over your own is a taxing job. You have to endure a fair amount of
emotional turmoil to give others what they want from you.

Health side effects

As a people pleaser, you can trigger some nasty physical responses in your body that materialize by way of a few symptoms including:

– Digestions problems
– Difficulty breathing
– Headaches
– Neck and shoulder problems
– Heart palpitations

How to Stop Being a People Pleaser

The need to be please people may seem to be an easy answer, but as you can see, you have to find an alternative solution to sustain your well-being. Here are a few ideas for you to consider when attempting to no longer act in the role of being a people pleaser:

Develop self-awareness and practice self-reflection

To stop being a people pleaser, you will need to slow down and make the time to do a bit of self- reflection and build self-awareness. Self-awareness helps you to understand better who you are in any given moment.

You are clear about your dreams, wishes, and goals and you can achieve those things by taking the necessary steps to get there. You want to assess why you have this problem.

What is it about you that makes people think they can take advantage of you and why do you let it happen? What from your childhood might have caused you to become this person?

Next, when you find yourself in a people-pleasing act, ask yourself the following questions?

– How did I get here?
– Why am I allowing this to take place?
– What is triggering this event?
– What do I need to say to stop this from occurring in the future?

Work on breaking the cycle

You need to work on disrupting the cycle of people pleasing and to do this; you will have to set a few goals that enable you to take small steps towards making better choices and changing your life.

One of the biggest goals should center around making more time for you. You have to become your greatest advocate. You must always remind yourself that making you a priority will not necessarily classify you as being selfish but instead looking out for your best interests.

To breathe a bit of life into this goal, purposefully schedule 15 to 30 minutes of time you give to yourself. This time might be used to take a walk, meditate, go to a store, turn off your phone, or merely lie on the couch and do absolutely nothing.

Next, consider your own self-worth. Your approval should not come from others but will need to come from deep within yourself. Let go of the fear of what others will think. Let go of the need to please others, and start pleasing yourself.

Establish your values

Know what your priorities and values are in life and use them as a metric to determine whether or not putting yourself out there for someone aligns with those values and priorities. During the decision- making process, ask yourself “What is most important for me?” and “How will this decision affect me?”

Practice being a disappointment to others

This particular tip is vital to yourself. You must accept the idea that you are going to let people down. Your assertiveness will not go over well because it is highly likely that you will not meet their expectations. It’s okay. Permit yourself now to say ‘no’ to those things that will contradict your values and self-worth and be okay with the fact someone will not like your answer or decision.

Do not allow shame or guilt to steer you in the wrong direction. Use it to motivate you to do the what is most important for you.

The hardest thing you will probably have to learn is how to say ‘no’ to a lot of things you said ‘yes’ to in the past. Get good at it.

Stand in the mirror and learn to say ‘no’ with conviction. Don’t worry about explaining yourself or feeling as though you have to make someone understand your values or why it is you cannot do what it is, they are asking.

They more than likely will not hear what it is you are trying to tell them anyway. This person will be mentally cycling your words and looking for some approach to convince you that your reasons are not legitimate or worthy.

Become a decision maker with choices

In addition to being prepared to be a disappointment to others, practice making tough choices. Sometimes, we talk ourselves into believing that there is no option to say ‘no,’ but you always have a choice in the matter. You can say ‘no.’ If the decision you have to make generates feelings of discomfort or guilt, you may have to make the decision that is uncomfortable.

Do not try to own everyone’s feelings

Your personal need to empathize with others may be in the right place, but do not try to be the guardian of how everyone else is feeling. Instead, take responsibility for your feelings and adjust from there.

Don’t worry about being likeable

Being likable is nice but being yourself is even better. People will get you or they won’t. If they don’t, it’s okay. Your goal is to stay true to who you are, and everything else will fall into place. Your goal should be to work on improving your self-esteem and better understanding what it is you need to be happy.

Look for signs someone is taking you for granted

Now that you know there are people who are probably taking you for granted, you can look for other cues that someone may not always have your best
interest at heart when they are asking something of you.

Keep an ear out for statements that make it seem that you are the only one who can help this person and it will command a lot of your time and energy. Do not allow others to decide you are the only one who can ‘fix it.’

Buy Time

Sometimes, we might feel compelled to give someone an immediate answer when they are asking us for something.

You have the right to delay and advise your counterpart that you will have to follow up with them a little bit later.

Be upfront about your problem with others

Congratulations. You now know that you are a people pleaser. Let others know about your latest self-discovery and the actions you are beginning to take to remedy it. This action may help to inform others that you will not continue to be their doormat and your true friends, family and support team will help you to recognize when someone is daring to take advantage of you.

Learn to speak up

Being assertive may not be your strong point, but you are going to have to make it your best quality if you are going to stop being a people pleaser.

Be prepared to tell people what you want, what you do or do not have to offer, and be ready to state your needs precisely.

Evaluate and Adjust Your Inner Circle

Take some time to assess and evaluate who is in your inner circle. Determine which people are supportive and exude positive energy and identify which people are cynical and draining.

You may have to make some adjustments and make difficult decisions about who it is that should remain in your circle and who needs to go.

Get Professional Help

If your people pleasing has generated feelings of depression or anxiety that are not improving, you should seek professional help. There is no shame in getting the counsel of a professional who can give you the tools you need to overcome these feelings.

Final Thoughts

People pleasing behaviors are not a bad thing but do become dangerous when you allow them to disrupt your emotional, mental and physical wellness.
People pleasing is a behavior that can be changed. It only takes a willingness to try and a deeper understanding of what drives it.

If you are a people pleaser, now is the time to begin to break the cycle. Start by setting small, measurable and attainable goals that begin to allow you to change those bad behaviors. Start noting when you people please and identify your specific patterns.

If necessary, seek professional help if you are experiencing depression or anxiety.