How to Overcome People Pleasing for Good?

People pleasing is when someone tries so hard to make other people happy.

They would go out of their way to please someone, often giving away their own valuable time or resources. 

This can lead to burnout and feelings of resentments.

Striving to please other people is a form of trying to control how they feel about you. It stems from feeling insecure and having low self-esteem.

Today you’re going to learn how to stop being a people pleaser and start living on your own terms.

Ready? Let’s get started!

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Are You A People Pleaser?

If you’re someone who worries about pleasing others, then you might share some of the signs below:

  • You feel responsible for how other people feel about you. And the thought that someone might be mad at you makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • You go to great lengths to avoid conflicts and disagreements.
  • You’re more inclined to agree with people than expressing a contrary point of view.
  • You often find yourself apologizing even when you don’t think you did anything wrong.
  • You don’t, usually, tell people when you feel hurt or offended by something they did or said.
  • You change your behavior based on what you think other people expect from you.
  • You struggle to say NO when people ask you for favors, even if you don’t want to do something or don’t have the time and energy to do it. As a result, you often feel overburdened and overscheduled by all the things you have to do.

If some of these signs apply to you, you should know that your attempts to be a nice person can backfire.

It can get in the way of achieving your goals and dreams.

Why Do We Try To Please Other People?

There are many reasons why we might feel the need to please other people in our life.

1. Fear

Some people fear having conflicts in their lives.

They feel that if they can please others, there will be no conflicts and everything will be okay.

They might also fear rejection or abandonment. They would think to themselves that if they can’t make someone happy, then he won’t like me. They thrive on praise and need constant reassurance from others.

So they keep changing their behavior in an attempt to please others and make them happy.

Being nice does not come out of goodness or high morals. It comes out of a fear of displeasing others and receiving their disapproval. It’s driven by fear, not virtue. – Aziz Gazipura

2. Childhood experiences

The desire to please others might stem from childhood experiences.

Children of alcoholics, for example, are likely going to grow up to be people pleasers. They’ve learned early on that the best way to deal with a parent’s unpredictable behavior, was to please them.

In other cases, the child learns that the only way to get his parents’ attention is by doing good deeds and getting good grades.

3. Self-worth

Pleasing people can be a source of self-worth for some.

They figure out that if they can make others happy, then they must be worth something.

It’s their way to feel needed and important.

The Problem With Pleasing People

Striving to please others presents several issues including the following:

1. It damages relationships

When you’re constantly doing things for other people to please them, and you don’t feel like they’re appreciating what you’re doing for them, or you feel like they’re not giving you back as much, you’ll soon grow resentful toward them.

You start feeling like a martyr, and you become angry and bitter.

At the same time, others you’re trying to please might start taking advantage of you without forming a deep relationship based on honesty and mutual respect.

2. You lose sight of your values

One of the biggest regrets of people on their deathbeds is not being true to themselves.

Instead of dressing, behaving, and speaking in a way that was pleasing to others, they wish they had lived a more authentic life.

Pleasing people holds you back from reaching your full potential.

People Pleasers fear that any success or positive change might not get others’ approval.

Moreover, when you strive to please others, you stop behaving according to your values and focus on what other people expect from you.

How To Stop People Pleasing?

#1. Determine Who You Want To Please

If you want to reach your goals in life, you’ll need to choose your own path and not just do what other people want you to do.

Here are some truths that will make you second-guess people-pleasing:

– People-pleasing is a waste of time and energy. You can try to do what you think other people want you to do, but you can’t control whether or not they’re pleased.

And the more time and energy you devote for people-pleasing, the less time and energy you’ll have left for what really matters.

– It’s okay for other people to feel disappointed or angry. Everyone is responsible for his own feelings, and he has the ability to cope with a wide array of feelings.

It’s not your job to make sure others are always happy or prevent them from feeling negative emotions. Just because someone got mad, it doesn’t mean it’s your fault.

– It’s impossible for you to please everyone. People want different things, and it’s impossible for you to always behave in a way that is going to please everyone around you.

Accept that no matter how hard you try, some people will never be pleased.

#2. Define Your Values

Is pleasing people one of your top values in life?

Common values include Spiritual beliefs, helping others, romantic relationships, maintain good friendships, career, money, growth, pleasing people…

Read More: Core Values List: Over 200 Personal Values to Discover What’s Most Important to You 

Pick up the top five values in your life and rank them from the most to the least important. Then think about whether or not you’re living according to these values.

Are you devoting much of your time and energy toward something that isn’t on your list?

If so, start making the necessary changes to lead a life that is in line with your values.

#3. Take Time Before Deciding Whether To Say YES Or NO

If you find yourself automatically saying yes to everything, you need to start taking some time and think about it before you give an answer.

When someone asks you to do something, before saying yes to them, ask yourself these questions:

– Is it something I want to do and what will I gain from doing it? Take a moment to decide whether or not it’s something you want to do.

Whether it was an opportunity for you to grow or to learn something, or is simply an act of kindness you’re willing to do, make sure you never do something against your will.

– What will I have to give up to do this? Doing something for someone will usually cost you something, whether it was your time, energy, or money.

Before saying yes, consider whether or not giving up any of these resources will interfere with other things in your life, like time spent with your family for example.

– How Will I feel if I do it? Will doing it make you feel good about yourself and happy? Or will it leave you angry and resentful? If it’s something you’re doing against your will, it’ll certainly leave you resentful which isn’t healthy for either of you.

If you want to say NO, you don’t need to have an excuse. Saying something like “I wish I could but I’m not going to be able to” should suffice.

It might take some time before you become comfortable enough saying NO, but it’ll get easier with practice.

Related: Recovering People Pleaser: 5 Ways To Stop Being The Nice Guy (And Get What You Want In Life And Love)

#4. Learn To Be More Assertive

People pleasers, usually, find it hard to speak up when someone is taking advantage of them or to simply ask for what they need.

You still can ask for what you need and stop someone from taking advantage of you while remaining polite and respectful.

Use “I” statements and only state the facts. People usually feel offended and blamed when you use “You” statements such as “You’re never on time”. Instead, say “I feel frustrated when you’re late”.

It might feel uncomfortable to know that someone is angry at you, but the more you practice, the easier it becomes to tolerate the discomfort and the more assertive you become.

Related: How to Firmly Establish and Enforce Healthy Emotional Boundaries?

#5. Forgive Yourself When You Falter

Being assertive and setting boundaries can make you feel uncomfortable at first.

It will also take practice before it can become second nature to you.

So you’re bound to make mistakes and slip back into old patterns. This is perfectly fine. In fact, it’s part of the learning process.

Forgive yourself each time you falter and keep practicing.

#6. Start Validating and Accepting Yourself

Self-acceptance is an ever-evolving process. The more you accept yourself and validate yourself, the less validation you’ll need from other people.

Read More: Learning To Love Yourself : 21 Day Self-Love Challenge

Accepting That You Can’t Please Everyone Makes You Stronger Mentally

To enjoy an authentic life, your words and behavior must be in line with your beliefs and values.

When you stop striving to please everyone around you, you’ll experience several benefits including:

– Increased self-confidence. When you convince yourself that it’s not your responsibility to make others happy, you become more content with the decisions you make.

Even when other people don’t agree with your decisions, as long as they’re in line with your beliefs and values, you know that you’ve made the right decision. And your independence and confidence grow as a result.

– You’ll have more time and energy to direct toward your goals. Instead of wasting your time and energy doing things to please others or becoming what others want you to become, you’ll have that time and energy to devote to work on your own goals.

And you become more able to reach your potential.

– Reduced stress. When you set healthy boundaries for other people around you, you start experiencing less stress and irritation, and you feel more in control of your life.

-Healthier relationships. When you become more assertive and able to speak up for yourself, people will develop more respect for you.

They stop taking advantage of you, and you stop feeling resentful and angry.

Like everything associated with change, becoming more assertive, and standing up for yourself will take practice and time.

Always be aware of signs that you’re doing something to just please someone and work on leading a life that lines up with your beliefs and values.

Did I miss anything?

Now I’d like to hear from you.

Which techniques from today’s post are you going to try first?

Or maybe I didn’t mention one of your favorite techniques.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now!

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Portions of this article were adapted from the book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, © 2013 by Amy Morin. All rights reserved.

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I love this. Thanks for the post.