You’re not alone in this battle. The pressure to be friendly and caring is there, even if it doesn’t seem like it. We encourage each other to be this way. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: nice guys finish last. But at what cost? You know better than to put others ahead of yourself simply. You probably want to stop being a people pleaser because it’s causing you anxiety or stress, but how exactly do you stop? Let’s dive deep to learn how to stop people pleasing.
Defining People Pleaser
A people pleaser is a person who wants to make everyone happy. They are so concerned about making others happy that they will do whatever it takes to achieve this goal. They want to be liked by everyone, including their friends and family and are constantly seeking approval from others, which hurts their lives.
Why Do People Pleasers Do What They Do?
People pleasers are people that want approval from others. They want everyone to like them, and they put in so much effort trying to make sure that happens that it drains them emotionally and physically. People pleasing is not about what you do for others but for yourself!
They think if they do this for others, they’ll be liked, loved, and accepted by everyone around them! Most people will take advantage of someone who constantly tries too hard to get what they want. If you’re constantly trying too hard, believe me when I say no one will appreciate it or notice how hard you work on your behalf!
What Are the Signs of People Pleasing?
People pleasing is a habit that can be both good and bad. It’s good because it makes others feel better and helps them trust you. But it’s terrible because it can make you feel like a doormat.
The first step to overcoming people pleasing is identifying when it happens. Here are the signs of people pleasing:
- You often say yes when you want to say no.
- You don’t ask for help when you need it, even though you know your friends would be happy to lend a hand.
- You bend over backward for everyone else and rarely ask for anything in return.
- You often find yourself apologizing unnecessarily or making excuses for why things aren’t as good as they could be — even when there isn’t anything wrong with what happened or how it turned out.
- You often worry about what others think or say about you – at work, home, or socially.
- You feel responsible for the happiness of others, even when there is nothing you can do about it. You often feel guilty when someone is somehow upset with you or disappointed in you.
- You struggle with anger and resentment toward others who take advantage of you.
- You get nervous when you disagree with someone or decide without their approval.
- You’re always trying to fix someone else’s problems instead of focusing on yourself.
What Causes People to Pleasing?
People pleasers are the kind of people who do what they need to do to avoid conflict and gain the acceptance of others. They often feel like they don’t have much power, so they try to get what power they can by making other people happy. It’s a cycle that makes them feel trapped and unhappy, but it’s hard for them to break out.
People pleasing can be a sign of low self-esteem, but it can also be caused by other factors such as:
Insecurity: People who are insecure or lack confidence may engage in behaviors that make them feel more secure, such as pleasing others.
Fear of rejection: Some people fear rejection so much that they will do anything possible not to be rejected or criticized by anyone. This leads them to please everyone all the time — even when it means putting themselves at risk for being taken advantage of or feeling used by others.
Low self-worth: If someone doesn’t believe they’re worthy of being treated well or having their needs met, they may resort to pleasing others because they think that’s how you get ahead in life (or at least stay afloat). This is especially true if someone has experienced an abusive upbringing where their needs weren’t considered.
Related Read: Self-esteem vs. Self-confidence: Know the Differences
The need for approval: People pleasers often have low self-esteem and feel they need approval from others. If they get the approval they want, they may feel like they need to be more successful in some way. This is why they go out of their way to please other people — it makes them feel better about themselves.
What Are the Effects of Being a People Pleaser?
When you’re a people pleaser, you can’t stand the idea of anyone being unhappy with you. You take it upon yourself to ensure everyone is happy, which can lead to severe problems.
Here are some of the most common effects of being a people pleaser:
- You lose yourself. Being overly concerned with pleasing others makes it difficult to maintain your identity and set boundaries. You might feel pressured into going along with things that don’t make sense for you or acting in ways that don’t feel comfortable or authentic.
- You get taken advantage of. People constantly trying to please others are easy targets for manipulation and exploitation by those who do not have their best interests at heart. If you find yourself constantly giving in to requests from others, it’s probably time to start saying no more often — even if it means dealing with some short-term conflict or discomfort.
- You end up feeling resentful and angry at others’ demands on your time and energy — and maybe even at yourself for allowing this dynamic to continue in the first place. And when you’re angry all the time, there’s no room left for happiness or joy.
How to Stop People Pleasing?
It’s easy to understand why people pleasers tend to be so eager to please. After all, it feels good to be liked and appreciated. But if you’re a people pleaser, there’s a good chance that you are more often than not being used or taken advantage of. People who seek approval from others are often criticized for being “too sensitive” or “self-absorbed.” And the truth is that people pleasers have difficulty saying “no” because they fear rejection more than anything else.
What is the solution? If you want to stop being a people pleaser, consider why you do what you do. Then make changes in your life, so your needs are met without compromising anyone else’s happiness. Here are some suggestions:
- Take care of yourself first. If you want others to respect your needs, you must respect your own first. This means putting yourself first sometimes and saying no when necessary.
- Set boundaries with friends and family members who pressure you into doing things you don’t want to do. It may take time for them to get used to this new behavior, but eventually, they’ll see that the world doesn’t end when they don’t get their way all the time!
- Stop worrying about what other people think of you. It’s impossible to please everyone, so don’t even try! If someone says something negative about you, remember that it’s their opinion, not the truth. Don’t let their comments get under your skin and make you feel bad about yourself.
- Accept that your needs matter too! You deserve basic respect from others just as much as anyone else does! If someone isn’t treating you well or is demanding too much from you, then speak up! Let them know how their behavior makes you feel and what would make things better for both of you.
- Stop making excuses for other people’s behavior. If someone else is rude or inconsiderate, don’t make excuses on their behalf — let them know how it makes you feel. You don’t have to be mean or rude back, but at least be honest about what they’re doing wrong and why you’re upset by it.
- Don’t feel guilty about saying no. Sometimes your happiness and well-being must say ‘no.’ When someone asks you to do something that isn’t in line with your values or goals, don’t feel wrong about saying no — explain why you can’t do it or offer an alternative solution if possible (e.g., “I’d love to come over next week, but I’m traveling on business”).
Related Read: How to Set Healthy Boundaries in Relationships?
If you want to start “being yourself” and stop being a people pleaser, you must embrace the individuality that makes sense to you. For example, if you’re into fitness, maybe that means you call out other people who are getting too wrapped up in unhealthy lifestyles. If you have strong political views, express them confidently but respectfully.
Regardless of what you do, remember that it’s okay to be different from others—we should look up to individuals who break the mold. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the expectations of others and start playing your life by their rules, but this will end up holding you back from discovering who you are.
- Exline, J. J., Zell, A. L., Bratslavsky, E., Hamilton, M., & Swenson, A. (2012). People-Pleasing Through Eating: Sociotropy Predicts Greater Eating in Response to Perceived Social Pressure. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 31(2), 169–193. https://doi.org/10.1521/jscp.2012.31.2.169
- Hui, B. P. H., Ng, J. C. K., Berzaghi, E., Cunningham-Amos, L. A., & Kogan, A. (2020). Rewards of kindness? A meta-analysis of the link between prosociality and well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 146(12), 1084–1116. https://doi.org/10.1037/bul0000298
- Kreiner, H., & Levi-Belz, Y. (2019). Self-Disclosure Here and Now: Combining Retrospective Perceived Assessment With Dynamic Behavioral Measures. Frontiers in Psychology, 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00558