Are you struggling with your well-being because you have a hard time saying “no” to people around you? Does your validation come from pleasing others?
If you feel like a pushover or are uncomfortable being your true self around others, then you may be a people-pleaser. In this blog, I will explain what that means and how you can change. As you become self-aware, you will find a better path of wellness. Keep reading to find out how you can help your best friend, significant other, and family members respect you as a person.
What is a Pleaser Personality?
There is a difference between a people-pleaser and someone who wants to offer their best self. A people-pleaser is driven to do things for others—even when they don’t make sense or aren’t actually good for them. Even though you feel like you are doing things for others, you are actually doing them out of your own desire to feel loved.
The root of this instinctual belief is not your fault. But, it’s also not a healthy way to act.
- You feel responsible to make others happy.
- You feel self-worth when you please or gain the approval of others.
- You feel as if you have to do anything and everything you are asked to do.
- You have a hard time saying “no” without a really good reason.
- You hate conflict and avoid it as much as you possibly can.
- You feel miserable or anxious if someone is frustrated or annoyed with you.
Why You are a People Pleaser
People-pleasing tendencies typically start at a young age. You realize that if you act in the way they want, they will react in a positive way to you. You operate by “I have to please mom or dad so they will love me.”
That is not a healthy way to think. It didn’t actually serve you then and it CERTAINLY doesn’t serve you now.
In my own childhood, I tried to keep my mom happy. I spent a lot of my energy trying to do whatever I thought would make her love me. It trickled into my adult life where I felt this desperation to keep the people around me happy at all times.
I’m going to share with you how to break out of that vicious cycle of participating in toxic relationship after toxic relationship. You will find your desire to make others happy will often backfire and make them more frustrated with you.
Keep reading to find out how to become your own person—someone still very capable of helping others, but not driven to self-martyrdom just to make someone feel better.
The Dangers of Being a People-Pleaser
No one should feel as if they have to act a certain way or prove a certain value to be lovable.
People pleasers don’t act from a place of logic or compassion, they act out of the instinctual habit they’ve formed out of a need to prove their value. Because of this, people-pleasers tend to lose sight of their own feelings, needs and beliefs.
People-pleasers tend to get pushed around and are easily manipulated. They often land in toxic relationships with people who will take advantage of their feelings. Narcissists, in particular, love to surround themselves with people-pleasers because they will follow their lead and not push back against the mental abuse.
Most of the time, people-pleasers end up overworked and overburdened. This can cause a host of negative results, including:
- Physical illness and disease from prolonged acute stress
- Burnout, social anxiety or major depressive disorder
- Becoming a target for physical, verbal, or emotional abuse
- Resentment towards even those not taking advantage
- Putting off hopes and dreams because they seem unimportant
- Allowing others to form a codependent relationship with them
If you are a people pleaser, you may have a lot of negative energy and believe a number of subconscious lies about your value. You think negative thoughts, like:
“I have to please others to have worth and be loved.”
“I have no value if I don’t make others happy.”
“I’m not lovable.”
“It’s my fault they are so sad/frustrated/angry/annoyed.”
3 Signs You are a People Pleaser
People-pleasers sometimes think what they are doing is kind, generous, or in line with their belief systems (like “treating others better than yourself”). But, being a people-pleaser goes beyond kindness, love, and generosity. If you still aren’t sure whether or not you are a people pleaser, here are three signs you are.
1. You think of what others want and need before you think of yourself.
You aren’t just preferring others above yourself, you are neglecting yourself and bowing to every whim of another human. This depletes your energy and isn’t even in the best interest of the other person.
2. If someone is upset, you think you have to fix it.
You take responsibility for the feelings of other people. You think “what did I do?” You take on their energy and feel like you need to help them feel better. You want to fix them so you stop feeling bad too.
3. You feel bad for other people.
You don’t have to join people in their pain. You can be compassionate, empathetic, and kind without joining them in their pain. You can still feel good while you give them your positive energy. But, if you are a people-pleaser, you will be completely zapped when other people face struggles or feel unhappy.
This is not the same as being an empath, though it is often mistaken for being the same thing. An empath will understand how others feel and shares those feelings. But, a people pleaser will try to change based on what they think others want in an effort to be better liked.
How to Stop Being a People Pleaser (Visualization Exercise)
Before you go on to follow my steps for avoiding people-pleasing ways, I want you to practice this simple visualization. This is important for helping heal your hurt inner child.
Imagine standing in the light. Picture yourself in the divine healing presence.
Imagine that divine light or healing angels bringing you to your five-year-old self.
Thank that little one for the role they’ve played for you—the job they’ve taken on. My goodness, how many years that they’ve been playing the part of, “I have to please somebody in order to feel loved and valuable.”
Tell your inner child that they didn’t know any better back when this all started. Mom and dad had it confused and never should have required that. You were lovable because you exist and you were born. Tell that to your inner five-year-old.
Get down—really kneel down—and look that child in the eyes. Tell them you’re lovable because you’re you. And you were made in the image of God. Nothing you do could add to your value.
7 Tips to Never Return to Your People-Pleasing Ways
Now, you are ready to move on from your people-pleasing ways and never look back. You are tired of being walked on and abused. Here is how you can change your approach to stop this behavior.
1. Practice Saying No. Just No.
Stop yourself from always giving a big reason or lengthy explanation. No is a full sentence and you really don’t owe anyone a reason. Start by saying no to small favors or requests. Stop automatically volunteering your time, energy, or money. Make sure you are being thoughtful about your generosity.
When you say “no” to the things that aren’t as meaningful or aren’t things you want to spend your time doing, then you free up your energy and time for the things that are important. Your “yes” will mean more when you aren’t stretched thin and trying to do everything.
2. Delay Your Response
If you are feeling pressured to say “yes” and it might be for the wrong reasons, then use an excuse to delay your response. You can say you need to check your schedule, want to talk to your significant other or need to think about it. Sometimes it’s easier to say no after you’ve had time to make a more informed decision.
3. Set Healthy Boundaries
Your relationships will strengthen if you are able to set boundaries with your friends, family, co-workers, boss and other individuals in your life. Boundaries are rules that help you stop yourself before you get walked over.
If someone asks you to drop everything and come help them, you might set a boundary that you will only consider it if it is a true emergency situation. Or your boundary may be to stop giving out money to friends and family. Maybe you refuse to put yourself in situations where you don’t have an “escape” option—like going on vacation with extended family and staying in the same cabin or visiting for a holiday without your own car.
As you start setting boundaries, make sure you stick to them and don’t make excuses to fall back into the pleasing behavior patterns.
4. Practice Emphatic Assertion
You need to practice assertiveness and stand up for yourself in a calm, intentional way. At the same time, you can use empathy to still consider another person’s point of view. This results in a response that acknowledges someone’s feelings without feeling pressured to do what they want.
If someone asks you to give them a ride, but it would really mess up your schedule, a response with empathetic assertion would be something like, “I understand how frustrating it is to be without your car. I already made plans and won’t be able to take you tomorrow morning.” Protect your own mental health without completely disregarding the feelings of the other person.
5. Make Self-Care a Priority
Self-care is not selfish and it is not a bad thing. It is necessary to refresh your energy and keep your body healthy.
When you practice self-care you have more energy to give to others. Sometimes, people-pleasers measure their value by how little they do for themselves and this is a very unhealthy way to live that leads to low self-esteem and health issues. To practice self-care, you can do things like:
- Exercise regularly (3-5x a week)
- Learn new meals you can cook at home
- Eat a balanced diet with diverse nutrition
- Find hobbies and activities purely for your own happiness
- Meditate to push away the busy thoughts
- Focus on prayerful gratitude and practice mindfulness
- Try yoga, tai chi or another workout that requires focus, balance, and peace
- Take a relaxing bath or go get your hair/lashes/brows/nails done
- Spend time with friends or family who won’t try to manipulate you
- Plan ahead to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night
- Repeat self-love and self-affirming positive mantras
6. Ask Yourself “Why?”
Before you do what someone else is asking you to do or feel bad about a situation, ask yourself “why?” Sometimes, it will take several “why” questions before you get down to the heart of it. Ultimately, you need to logically and rationally decide if something is worth doing or if you are feeling pressured into something because you want to please other people.
7. STOP Hiding the Real You!
One of the most important things is that you STOP lying to everyone around you. People-pleasers are so concerned about not “rocking the boat” that they tend to avoid saying what they really think or feel in a situation. It is time to start practicing that assertive part of your emphatic assertion.
Say what you really think or feel in a gentle and honest way. That is the only way people are even going to know what Is going on with you.
You can Take Care of Others While You Take Care of Yourself
You don’t have to choose between your own good and the good of other people. It’s not an “either/or” equation—it’s an “also/and.” You can take care of yourself AND take care of people around you, even if it isn’t exactly what they are asking you to do. You can think about your own feelings while ALSO taking into account what they might be feeling in the situation. It shouldn’t be only one or the other.
You can be kind without feeling pressured to fix someone’s life. Sometimes, you get in the way of their lesson because you are trying to rush in a fix their discomfort. In your eagerness to solve the situation and end your own discomfort, you could be stopping them from understanding a very important point about their own life, attitude or choices.
When you are able to reach out to support others from a safe space of wholeness, you can really make a difference. You will be more prepared to find real ways to help and you will have more energy to give to the situation.
Heal From Deep Within for Outward Strength
I want to help you achieve that wholeness and stop people-pleasing. I can help you be empathetic and caring without throwing yourself under the bus because someone wants you to.
Come join my Healing Center where there are thousands of people like you looking for the same kind of support. I can help you heal that old hurt and walk on a stronger and more balanced path that keeps your own needs in focus as well.