How To Overcome People Pleasing (The Ultimate Guide)
Welcome to the people pleasing club, where we do everything for everyone else, completely forget about our own basic needs, and do all kinds of little things that make us completely miserable. Since you’re here, I’m assuming that you no longer want to be in this club and that you’re ready to learn how to overcome people pleasing.
Once upon a time, in a land far away, I too, was a people pleaser. Thankfully I decided to stop letting other people and their opinions rule my life. In doing this, I became confident in my true, real, and authentic self. And let me tell you, my life thanks me for it on the daily. Because people pleasing is a very bad thing.
And guess what?! YOU no longer have to live your life to the standards of other people either! You don’t have to do things that you don’t want to do, or put everyone else’s needs above your own. And like me, your future self will undoubtedly thank you for making these decisions.
It’s a good idea to learn how to be your true self and find confidence in yourself and your decisions. It’s time for you to learn how to overcome people pleasing once and for all.
Signs of a People Pleaser
Before I begin, as you read the signs of a people pleaser below, you will find that you more than likely exhibit signs of a people pleaser personality. And that’s okay! Recognizing that you have a people pleaser personality is the first step.
Do not allow yourself to feel shame while reading this list. The goal is not to feel bad about yourself. Instead, the goal is to learn to realize when you are exhibiting people pleasing behavior so that you can stop being one! Once you’re able to identify your people pleasing behavior, you will be able to put an end to it once and for all.
Just think about how awesome it would be to never say ‘yes’ again when you want to say ‘NO!’
Do you have a people pleaser personality?
Review the following list. Do you:
- never say no to anyone or anything?
- ignore your personal values or do things that make you uncomfortable or miserable to meet the expectations of others?
- feel responsible for the happiness of others?
- feel it’s your job to take care of others and other people’s feelings?
- put everyone else’s happiness above your own?
- feel stressed out when people are displeased with you?
- care about everyone else’s opinion of you?
- lack boundaries in your important relationships?
- let others walk all over you?
- desperately want everyone to like you?
- spend too much time worrying about other people’s needs?
All of these things in this list are types of people pleasing behaviors. If you answered yes to some or all of the questions above, welcome to the people pleasing club! It’s great to have you here, but it is time to kick you out of this club.
Let’s start by taking a closer look at the reasons why you are a people pleaser in the first place.
Reasons Why You Are a People Pleaser
We previously noted that a people pleaser is a person who says ‘yes’ to requests when the right thing to say is ‘no’. People pleasers agree to requests without regard for how their decision will affect them emotionally.
If you do this enough, you end up feeling anxious and unsure of yourself. People pleasers also tend to complain a lot about their decisions, sometimes without knowing why they are making them.
So if a people pleaser regrets their decisions of saying “yes” to everything, why make these choices to begin with? If you want to learn how to overcome people pleasing, you need to understand why you are exhibiting people pleasing behavior in the first place.
Discover Why You Might be Displaying People Pleasing Behavior:
Review the following list. Do you:
- crave other people’s approval and validation of you?
- value other people’s opinions of you?
- want to be seen as a person who can handle all the things?
- believe it’s your job to keep other people happy?
- feel afraid that other people won’t approve of you?
- want to avoid conflict?
- not want to disappoint others?
- have low self-esteem and a fear of rejection?
- use people pleasing as a coping mechanism?
It should feel natural to want to answer ‘yes’ to almost all of the questions in the list above. Often times a person who displays people pleasing behavior is also a person who is very kind, caring, and compassionate. These are the people who truly and honestly just want everyone to be happy. They can be thoughtful, positive, and generous people.
Mothers tend to make really good people pleasers. A lot of people with a strong maternal drive want to take care of their loved ones by any means necessary. Sometimes, this is a natural feeling that we extend too far to everyone around us. This leads to taking care of other people over ourselves.
All of the traits in the list above are important traits to have, because they show that you are prioritizing the wellbeing of those around you. However, there is a line that you have to draw so that this thinking doesn’t go too far at the cost of your own wellbeing.
The goal here isn’t to completely change who you are and just stop caring about everyone else entirely. Instead, the goal is to learn how to overcome people pleasing by caring for other people’s feelings for the right reasons, and in the right way.
The Danger of Being a People Pleaser
There are many dangers of being a people pleaser. Acknowledging these dangers can help you to realize just how important it is to stop aiming to please people.
#1. By being a people pleaser you are letting others rule your life
First and foremost, the danger of being a people pleaser is that you are living your life to make the rest of the world happy. And you can’t live the life you want to live if you are completely miserable!
People pleasers let the pressures of the world and those around them make decisions for them. This means giving up the right to take control over your circumstances.
After a while, you will start to lose confidence in your ability to make tough decisions. You will begin to doubt yourself any time you are faced with a major decision. Instead of deciding what is best for you, you will begin to feel that you need to consult someone else first. This can be incredibly draining!
Allowing others to control your decision making can also lead to tensions within your family and with your family members. For example, imagine that your partner constantly makes decisions to please their parents. It wouldn’t be long before you start to feel that their parents have the final say over any decisions your family is faced with.
Let me tell you something. You are trying to make the world happy by doing everything that everyone else wants you to. But guess what? The people you are trying to please aren’t happy. And you aren’t bringing those people happiness by making decisions for them. They don’t really care what you are doing for them.
If you are able to learn how to overcome people pleasing, you will start living your life for yourself. You will start showing up for those most important to you in your life with the positive and enthusiastic energy that they deserve.
You will feel confident that your decisions are being made for you and your family first. As a result, you will feel less self-doubt and more certain of who you are. This sure beats letting someone else tell you!
#2. Saying ‘yes’ to everyone else means saying ‘no’ to yourself
One of the most draining dangers of being a people pleaser is always feeling the need to say ‘yes’ to everything that comes your way. When you are a people pleaser, you tend to not even think before answering. No matter how big the ‘ask’ is, odds are you are eager to jump through whatever hoops are being thrown your way.
And this has a very negative impact on your wellbeing!
One of the hardest things to do to learn how to overcome people pleasing is learning to be comfortable saying ‘no’. Nobody likes to be told ‘no’. So by definition, the people pleaser personality just defaults to ‘yes’.
However, by saying ‘yes’ to everyone, you usually end up saying ‘no’ to yourself and your true feelings. This can lead to you getting stuck in some pretty dangerous situations that compromise your self-care and the wellbeing of those you care about most.
If you are a people pleaser, the odds are at some point you have said yes to:
- buying something that you didn’t really want to buy.
- pushy family members coming to visit at an inconvenient time.
- your boss when asked to work unreasonably hard or late on a project.
- a friend pressuring you into doing something you didn’t want to do.
Remember that people pleasers usually genuinely want others to be happy. We also worry about how other’s opinions of us will change when we say ‘no’. We fear that we will be seen as inferior or unable to balance the demands in our lives.
However, saying ‘no’ can be one of the most liberating feelings you will have. It tells others (and yourself) that you care about yourself enough to stand up for what you need. This doesn’t make you mean or cold. It just means that if you want to keep being the nice person that you are, you are going to have to dish out a few no’s every once in a while.
#3. People pleasers seek unhealthy attention and approval of others.
In the worst cases, people pleasers not only want the approval of others, but they also want the attention of others. These types of people value being seen as the person who can balance it all.
Seeking external validation and praise from other people is natural and a basic human need to some degree. We get praise and learn to give it early on in our lives, so it makes sense that it still makes us feel good in our adult age. We also gain a sense of confidence when we are recognized for our achievements, and that can be a really good thing for our motivation.
However, by seeking an unhealthy amount of attention and the approval of others, we define our self-worth by how other people see us. As a result, we start to lose ourselves a bit. We lose sight of our strengths and best qualities. Instead, we constantly feel like we aren’t measuring up in the eyes of everyone else.
The reality is, there is no shame at all in acknowledging that you can’t do it all. Because… you can’t! Life is crazy and every day there seems to be more and more demands on us and our little time. Trying to show others that you can take on the weight of the world is not worth it, nor is it even possible!
Instead of external validation, look for internal validation. Who’s standard are you looking to measure up to? Measure yourself against your own standard. Are you doing your best with the resources you have?
There is something seriously liberating in setting your own limits and just living within them! Would you rather feel like you are doing an awesome job at a lower limit, or a bad job at an unreasonable limit?
How to Overcome People Pleasing (But Still Be Nice)
So you’ve decided that you do in fact display many signs of a people pleaser. Now you are wondering how to overcome people pleasing.
The key here is balance. Your goal isn’t to bend over backwards for people and neglect your own self-care. The goal also isn’t to neglect the wellbeing of others in favor of becoming a selfish person who only thinks of themselves.
Let’s take a look at some tactics that can help you find this balance in your own life!
#1. Know Yourself
An important part of kicking your people pleasing habit is knowing yourself and setting your own boundaries. You need to dig deep down to your core and figure out who YOU are. You need to be okay with living life on your terms and living your life for you.
Be confident in who you are. And if you aren’t, it is probably because you are having a hard time even knowing who you are without other people telling you!
People who have lost themselves tend to feel stuck. If you are feeling stuck in life, it is easy to reconnect with yourself and your true passions.
Think back to the goals and passions you once had and how they drove you forward in your life to be the person you are. Reconnect with those ideas and try to separate yourself from the paths that others may have put you on. This may be how you started getting lost in the first place!
At first, you may find that not engaging in your typical people pleasing behavior will be very difficult. After all, you have taken on these tendencies as part of your identity. But, if you can figure out who you are and who you want to be, this will be an important step in living the happier life that you want for yourself!
#2. Find Creative Ways to Say ‘No’
Think back to the last time you said ‘yes’ to a request and wished that you didn’t. If you are a people pleaser, the odds are you didn’t even think about your answer before you agreed to the request!
The second step in how to overcome people pleasing (but still be nice) is to find ‘creative’ ways to say no. Saying ‘no’ is hard. In fact, the very idea of declining something raises my blood pressure. I can feel my heart beating faster when I am pressured with a request that I don’t want to say ‘yes’ to.
When someone asks you to do something that you don’t want to do, provide a response that buys you a little time. Something like ‘let me get back to you’ or ‘give me some time to think’ lets you take their question home with you.
It allows you to decide on your own terms without the pressure of them starring you in the eyes. Doing this also sends the message that you are a person who takes time and care with thoughtful attention to requests. You do not owe anyone an immediate answer.
Creatively saying ‘no’ gives you a sense of control in a situation where you are not usually used to feeling in control. Before you know it, you’ll be saying ‘no’, ‘not gonna happen’, or even the full-of-confidence ‘not today Satan!’
But, for now, start by taking baby steps. ‘Let me get back to you’ is a great first step when your end goal is to learn how to overcome people pleasing.
#3. Practice Self-Care
When laying out a plan for how to overcome people pleasing, you need to learn how to take care of yourself again. For too long, you have neglected your own self-care in order to prioritize others.
Just remember, the goal isn’t to switch this around and only focus on yourself. Balance is key!
Practicing these tips for self-care will help you rediscover the importance of taking care of yourself. Develop a self-care routine for yourself and you will realize just how much you were missing by being a people pleaser. You will start to feel more connected to yourself and your loved ones as you prioritize you. Practicing self-care will also energize you, giving you more patience to balance the demands of the day.
#4. Set Goals for Yourself
You can’t put a stop to people pleasing behavior overnight. It will take a lot of time to undo a lot of the bad habits that you have become comfortable with. However, if you think about it this way, it will be hard to get started! With enough practice and dedication, we know that a growth mindset allows us to do anything we put our minds to.
Start by making a SMART and value-driven goal to help you realize what you want your life to look like. If you are interested in making a vision board, set a few goals for yourself and visually represent them on your vision board. Your goals could range from saying ‘no’ to people when you don’t want to do something, to something bigger like learning about boundary setting in personal relationships.
Use quotes for vision boards or quotes about using a growth mindset to inspire you to stay focused on your goals. The wise words of others have the power to remind us of the reasons why we set our own goals in the first place!
#5. Care Less About Other People’s Opinions of You
Lastly, in order to learn how to overcome people pleasing, it’s important that you understand that other people’s opinions of you do not matter. You are allowed to be the person you were created to be. The person you are is unique and is not supposed to exist to please or be approved by other people.
Learning to stop letting things bother you is possible if you are able to develop confidence in yourself and your decision making. People pleasers are used to second guessing themselves and looking for validation from others. However, with a strong understanding of who you are and your own goals for yourself, you will beat self-doubt.
There will always be people in your life who feel the need to push back when you say ‘no’. In order to keep healthy relationships, it is important to communicate, maintain and set boundaries. As long as you show others that you are setting healthy boundaries to protect a relationship that you value, this doesn’t make you mean!
There may be negative emotions that come from boundary setting. This is especially true if the person you are setting healthy boundaries with likes to apply pressure in your life. Just remember to surround yourself with people who remind you of why you love who you are.
People Pleaser No More!
It can be hard to picture a life where you balance others’ happiness with your own happiness. If you have always been a people pleaser, it can sometimes feel as though it is in your nature, and that you will never be able to break from it.
However, recognizing the signs of a people pleaser and knowing the danger of being a people pleaser are the first steps. From there, set small short term goals.
Enjoy the confidence that comes with making an informed decision for yourself and your family. Enjoy working toward building a self-care routine and positive self-talk mantras that puts your needs first while balancing the needs of others.
Most importantly, remember that you are a people pleaser for a reason. Deep down, you are an amazing, kind, and caring human being with good intentions. The people in your life love you because you take good care of them and you make them feel special. It is time you start to take care of your own needs as well!
Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family on social media! If you know someone who struggles with people pleasing, this post could be just what they need!