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How to recognize if you are people pleasing?

Mar 10, 2023
Say No to People Pleasing

What does it mean to be a people pleaser?

It is surprising how many people are not aware of the term "people pleasing" until you talk about people pleasing behavior, which is when many people, especially women, resonates.

What makes for people pleasing behavior?

Firstly, I do not believe in labelling ourselves as X, Y, and Z.  I do believe that once you label yourself as a "people pleaser", a "procrastinator", or whatever other label you can think of, you will become more of that, for reasons explained in other articles. 

Worth mentioning is once you label yourself as something, you associate yourself as that, you take it on as part of your personality, which is extremely difficult to change.  However when you refer to it as behavior, which is what it is, a bad habit, habits can be changed with the right mindset.    

See if you resonate with some of these behaviors:

  •  You are motivated by a strong desire for approval and validation of others
  • You tend to base your entire sense of self on the opinions of others
  • You are co-dependent on others - ie your partner, kids, parents, etc
  • You aim to keep people pleased and happy at all costs, and most of the time to your own detriment
  • You end up having no time or energy for yourself
  • You don't particularly like, or even love yourself, and believe that if you can get others to like you, everything will be awesome and you will feel great
  • You are insecure and not confident
  • You feel overly responsible for everyone and everything that happens to people around you and take on all the blame when things go wrong
  • You do not hold healthy boundaries, boundaries. What are those?
  • The word "no" does not exist in your vocabulary
  • Sadly, they are not always 100 percent truthful. No matter how it goes against your core value system to lie
  • Your need for pleasing therefore causes you to be authentically out of sync with you true values which makes you dislike yourself even more with an increased need for approval
  • You experienced constant conflict between pleasing others versus your own needs which might leave you resentful, if you are honest
  • You are allergic to conflict and will do anything in your power to avoid it
  • You probably have found yourself in a cycle of abusive or toxic relationships

This behavior in the long run becomes detrimental to your close relationships. To put it bluntly, romantic relationships do not last.

Worth noting - people pleasing is not a mental illness. incurable, and healthy.  It is also not generous and caring behavior.  It might seem like it but, however true generosity comes from a place of healthy self love and real happiness. For shared enjoyment. Where people pleasing stems from low self esteem, low self love, and a desperate need for approval.

Why turn it around?

  • Because you owe it to yourself to get to the bottom of why you are behave this way
  • You probably find yourself going from one toxic relationship to another it is time to break the cycle
  • Living out of authenticity will negatively affect your behavior around food and or substance, cause stress and anxiety, and lead to health issues
  • You're probably merely surviving instead of thriving
  • You're probably constantly stressed and anxious
  • If you really pay attention to your own feelings you are probably feeling incredibly unhappy and unfulfilled

Truth is - you're not pleasing anyone, let alone yourself and your loved ones

This behavior is rooted in fear and is focused on earning love, however genuine love casts out fear

How to turn it around?

  • Establishing why you are behaving this way will go a long way in correcting your behavior - is it fear of rejection or fear of abandonment which leads to self doubt, lack of self love, self worth and self respect?
  • In short, if you find it easier to please others than pleasing yourself, then you are probably extremely unhappy with yourself
  • Spend some time on this as you might find that your reason is so deep rooted that it will take time to get to it, and you will probably find that the cause started somewhere in childhood or even before birth. Becoming aware is half the battle won
  • Pay attention to how you act and what you say and why
  • Check in with yourself all the time. The sooner you notice your people pleasing behavior the sooner will you be able to change course. It will take time but you will eventually start becoming aware from before acting instead of afterwards.
  • Acknowledge it without labelling it, without judgment, and with a whole lot of love
  • Your people pleasing behavior started out of love, out of a good place, however it does not serve you so don't be hard on yourself but take a definite stand against it
  • know and understand that this is what you have been doing for many years, accept that things are about to change and it will get easier
  • It will initially be uncomfortable, more so in your relationships with others
  • Accept that it doesn't serve you and certainly not the people around you
  • There is bound to be resistance from those close to you - have open and honest conversations with them
  • Once you identify why you act this way, make a real effort to work on the issues that got you here
  • Do not merely ignore it, negative feelings and behaviors can be turned around
  • If you lack self love, learn to love yourself. It takes time and constant effort but before you know it you will see the difference. I know as I have gone through this very same process
  • Be kind to yourself. The more you love yourself the more you're confident to say no to others, and the care you will give will be about them and not about you
  • Learn to set healthy boundaries. Understanding how to do this makes way more sense when you do it from a place of self love and self respect.
  • You will become more assertive and confident with a better understanding of when to take responsibility and when not.
  • As you go through the process it will become easier and easier to put yourself first without feeling selfish
  • Say Yes to yourself, by saying No to others


A word of warning - the real challenge and test will be when dealing with sensitive people.  You are probably behaving like this as you are extremely intuitive to what others feel and think as well as the energy levels. You might even believe you have this amazing power of reading other people's minds. And this probably stems from you being so scared to voice your own feelings and beliefs, that you expect others to read your mind.

The fact is, it is impossible to read people's minds. And if you do yourself a favor, and check in with the other person you will probably find that you are way off. Stop yourself from doing this. You're trying to take control over the other person, and therefore take away their power.  You also take on the responsibility of what they are thinking. This is extremely unhealthy and a recipe for disaster.

So next time when you are with a sensitive person and feel like you're mincing your words and acting in a way which is not in line with your authentic self but rather trying to prevent hurting them, stop and think about what you're doing. Know that you're not being yourself, you're acting disrespectfully and controlling.  Take a breath and ground yourself, even when you think you will hurt them.  It might be uncomfortable for both of you initially, but the value to yourself and others will be enormous.

Check in with yourself.  Be authentically you.  Keep reminding yourself to be yourself.

Respect other people enough to own your true self. And then look forward to a fulfilled life as a self-loving, reformed, wonderful women who used to have people pleasing behaviors.

When you say yes to others, make sure you're not saying no to yourself -  Paulo Coelho

If any of the articles resonates with you in any way, and you would like to have a chat to see how I can help you, please reach out for a FREE 15 minute call!

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