Are you a people pleaser? Let’s explore together!

If you are a people pleaser you would know that you would do anything it takes to make another person happy. Being kind and helpful is a good thing, however this can also make you feel emotionally depleted anxious and stressed. This article covers people pleasing traits whilst delving deeper into the causes of this behaviour and the negative impact it may have on your mental health. The article gives a few tips on how to stop putting other peoples wishes first and how to create a healthy balance whilst maintaining your own well-being.

What is a people pleaser?

People pleasing is a tendency to put others needs ahead of our own wishes. This type of personality is highly attuned to do what others need and is mostly agreeable, kind, and helpful. However, people pleasers have trouble supporting themselves which often leads to a pattern of self neglect and sacrifice. This behaviour can lead to anxiety or depression in the long run.

Signs that you may be a people pleaser.

  • You are consumed with what other people may think if you disappoint them.
  • You have a difficult time or feel guilt saying ‘NO’ because you worry people may look at you
    as being mean or selfish if you don’t abide to what they’re asking for.
  • You may struggle with feelings of low self esteem though this is not always the case.
  • You want people to like you and you seek their approval/validation.
  • You never have any free time because you’re always dedicating your time to others.
  • You neglect your own needs and eventually feel resentment towards the people you are


Origins of people pleasing

  • Insecurity: you may the need to always be agreeable so you ‘fit in’.
  • Perfectionism: sometimes people want to control how others feel about them and therefore
    develop perfectionistic tendencies such as being the perfect spouse or daughter/son in law.
  • Poor self esteem: people who engage in people pleasing may have a lack of self esteem and confidence thus seeking external validation and approval to feel they belong and are


Effects of people pleasing

It is a humanistic quality to be kind as being a caring person and concerned about another human’s well-being is part of maintaining healthy relationships with loved one’s. However, it only becomes a problem if you’re trying to win the approval and validation because of your weak self esteem or if you’re pursuing the happiness of others at the expense of your own emotional and physical well-being. Please remember, this may end up building resentment, anger and frustration within you.

The difference between genuine kindness versus people pleasing.

There is a clear distinction between doing things to be kind and doing things because you seek validation and approval. Individuals often do nice things for several reasons: perhaps they want to feel good, be helpful, wanting to return a favour or something else. On the contrary, if you’re doing something because you’re afraid that you will be rejected there is a strong likelihood that you may be a people pleaser.

Tips to avoid people pleasing.

1. Establish Clear Boundaries;

It is vital to know your limits and communicate these to the other party. Be specific about why you are willing to take on extra responsibilities, especially when you know you do not want to. Explore the reasons why you are saying yes. Dig deeper into the reasons you wish you could have said no to the other person’s request. Your answers may surprise you.

2. Take baby steps towards change;

It is often hard to say no if you are not used to it. Work on setting boundaries with small steps rather than big ones. An example of this would be that if a friend asks for your help to move and this is not convenient for you. Rather than telling them that you will not be able to do that, perhaps tell them that you would love to help them set up their kitchen cabinets once they are settled in but unfortunately you won’t be able to pitch in with the entire moving out process. Be gentle and kind as you convey this. This helps relay the message that you do care, but you will not be available for the entire move.

3. Clarify if others are taking advantage of your generosity;

It is important for you to understand if others have become used to your people pleasing behaviour and know that you’re the one to reach out to every time they need a favour. It is important to know who truly appreciates you, understands your tendencies, won’t take undue advantage of it and who would be willing to reciprocate the favour.

Wishing you strength as you identify your tendencies towards people pleasing and learn to draw firm boundaries to contain it. Always remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup. You cannot give to others when you don’t have enough for yourself. Learn to say no whilst being respectful. This newfound freedom will allow you to have better relationships and a better quality of life!

You got this!

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