5.7 min readPublished On: September 28, 2022Categories: Self-Improvement

Do any of these ring true for you? Are you desperate to be liked by everyone? Do you always say ‘yes’ and then regret it? Do you always agree with others even though you have your own opinion? Maybe you over-commit to social engagements because you don’t want to upset anyone? Have you taken on another work project even though you are already maxed out? 

There are many situations in life, where saying no can be difficult and uncomfortable, but if you are a people pleaser, it’s almost impossible. People pleasers go out of their way to please others because it raises their own self-esteem. The fear of not fitting in and being rejected outweighs being true to themselves and having self-belief.

What Are People Pleasers?

People pleasers are overly concerned about what people think of them and they will do anything to make the right impression and gain approval. They would rather keep quiet and bite their tongue, putting their own needs and emotions to one side, rather than saying what they really want, think or feel. 

Keeping themselves as second best will eventually take its toll. People pleasers can feel low, powerless, misunderstood and undervalued in situations that they have actually created themselves because they did not, at the time, speak their truth. Years later and these situations can still be playing on their minds and ultimately can turn into resentment.

Confession: I Used To Be A People Pleaser…

When I was younger, I definitely had people’s pleasing traits. Maybe it’s because we moved to different areas and changed schools, so I started over several times. I wanted to fit in and be everybody’s friend. I rarely spoke up, I avoided saying no, I like to apologise a lot (!) and I honestly believed that everyone else mattered more than me. I put the needs of others first. 

Over the years, I’ve grown, and I’ve learned that my life is just as important as anyone else’s, and I don’t need to please others to be accepted. I still don’t like confrontation (not many people do) but I do understand that it’s ok to have my own thoughts, needs and desires and the importance of being true to myself.

I couldn’t tell you exactly when things changed, but I know for sure my coach at the time made me see life in a different way. She pointed out that I was looking after the needs of everyone around me and neglecting my own; to the detriment of my own life. I was a pushover and I was getting pushed over, especially at work. She kindly recognised my lack of self-worth and loss of identity – both key people-pleasing traits.

Two of my core values are trust and honesty. Ironic really given that I was essentially “lying” to people by saying that I liked/wanted one thing but believed another (just to please them). Realising I wasn’t living in alignment with myself was key to me seeing what was really going on. 

The penny dropped. No wonder I didn’t feel at ease with myself and had lost sight of who I was. I had spent so much time pleasing the needs of others that I had forgotten what truly made me happy. I wasn’t being my authentic self and the learnings have continued ever since.

How To Stop Being A People Pleaser

People will not reject you for having your own thoughts and opinions; in fact, they will respect you more. And, in turn, you will gain self-respect and self-worth and this is where life begins to change.

We are all different, we all have our own unique personalities, and we all bring something different to the world. How boring if we were all the same. Being different is a wonderful thing, it means there is someone for everyone, and we can all learn from each other.

Be Authentic

Learn to be REAL, your authentic self. Learn that you are more than enough and that you are loved. Forgive and accept yourself – all of your weaknesses and strengths and give yourself a break. Self-acceptance is everything, it will bring you inner peace and calm. 

Stop Apologising For Everything

People pleasers often apologise for things which are not their fault. They often make themselves responsible for the emotional responses of others (Web MD), somehow blaming themselves for the other person feeling bad. Listen to yourself – how often do you apologise unnecessarily? Be aware and try and stop yourself the next time you go to apologise when you really don’t need to.

Get Some Perspective

Take a step back and look at where you spend most of your time and energy. As we know, people pleasers over-commit and agree to everything they are asked to do in order to fit in and gain validation. An interesting exercise is to keep a journal and track how often you say yes to something when you didn’t want to. How did it make you feel at that moment? And by saying “yes” to it, what have you said “no” to? 

Recognise if there are any patterns in the people or situation, so if it happens again, you can be better equipped with an alternative response. 

Learn How To (Politely) Say “No.”

There are many ways to say “no” without actually saying “no”. Here are some great examples:

“Thank you, I’d love to, but I’m already committed to…”

“I can’t do it this month. How about next?”

“I don’t think I’m the right fit, but I know someone who might be.”

“I’ll come, but I’ll need to leave by 9 pm at the latest.”

“Let me check, and I’ll get back to you.”

“Great idea, but I can’t right now.”

“Ooh, sounds fun, but I’ve already something on.”

“Thank you, I enjoyed my time with you but see you more as a friend.”

“It’s kind of you to offer, but I can’t take any more work on right now.”

“Not tonight; I’ve promised myself some ‘me’ time which I’m sticking to.”

Create And Enforce Boundaries

Start recognising your limits and place boundaries around how you spend your time. Do what only you want to do. I’m not saying be selfish; just be kind to yourself. Be aware of your energy and how you are feeling inside. Listen to yourself. Try to spend time and energy only on the things and people who align with your values and make you feel good. They will amplify your mood.

Finally, be your authentic self; reclaim your power and identity and start living your life for you, not for everyone around you. And remember, you are more than enough, and you are loved.