Do you have trouble saying no? Even when you know you should, do you still find yourself saying yes to things that make you unhappy or uncomfortable? If so, then you may be a people pleaser. People pleasers often struggle with setting boundaries and prioritizing their own needs over the needs of others. This can lead to feelings of resentment, burnout, and low self-esteem.
But don’t worry – there are simple steps you can take to break out of this cycle. Read on to learn how to stop being a people pleaser.
Are You A People Pleaser? Recognising The Signs
People-pleasing behaviours are characterised by a desire to please others at the expense of one’s own needs.
People-pleasers may go to great lengths to avoid conflict and may feel guilty when they set boundaries. They may also have difficulty expressing their own opinions or needs and may instead defer to others.
People-pleasers may also have a difficult time saying no, even when it is in their best interest to do so.
People-pleasers may also be prone to overcommitting themselves and may struggle with saying no. In addition, they sometimes might feel resentful when they feel that their efforts to please others are not appreciated.
Here are some common signs that you may be a people pleaser:
- You have difficulty saying no
- You fear rejection or confrontation
- You often go out of your way to please others
- You avoid expressing your true opinions or feelings,
The Psychology Behind People-Pleasing Tendencies
There are many reasons why you may develop a people-pleasing habit. People-pleasing tendencies can be a result of childhood trauma or situations where emotional needs are not adequately met.
People who grew up in households where they were not allowed to express their own needs may develop people-pleasing behaviours as a coping mechanism.
It can also be a learned behaviour if growing up with a family member who is a people-pleaser.
People-pleasing can be a way to gain approval from others and avoid rejection.
In addition, people-pleasing can be a way to avoid conflict and maintain a sense of control in situations where they feel powerless.
The Impact of People-Pleasing
People-pleasing behaviour can have a negative impact on an individual’s mental and physical health, personal relationships, and overall well-being.
Here are some of the ways that people-pleasing can affect a person’s life:
Effects on Mental and Physical Health
People-pleasers often neglect their own needs in favour of the needs of others, which can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
According to Medical News Today, people-pleasers often convince themselves that approval makes them happy, but the pressure to manage others’ emotions can be exhausting, anxiety-inducing, and even lead to depression.
In addition to mental health issues, chronic people-pleasing can also have physical health consequences.
Always putting other people’s wants and needs first can build feelings of stress, frustration, and possible resentment, leading to physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, and fatigue.
How People-Pleasing Affects Relationships
People-pleasing behaviour can have a toxic effect on personal relationships. People-pleasers often sacrifice their own needs and desires in order to please others, which can lead to resentment and a breakdown in communication.
According to an article on Verywell Mind, people-pleasers often have a fear of rejection, leaving them feeling emotionally depleted, stressed, and anxious.
One of the biggest costs of people-pleasing is neglecting personal needs. People-pleasers may feel that their wants and needs do not matter, which can lead to a lack of self-esteem and self-worth.
It can also put them in a vulnerable situation with toxic relationships where they are taken advantage of and may not even realize it. People-pleasers may attract individuals who do not respect their boundaries, leaving them feeling used and unappreciated.
How To Stop Being A People Pleaser: Simple Steps You Can Take
Now that we’ve dug deep into what it means to be a people-pleaser and how your people-pleasing ways can have detrimental effects on your life, let’s look at ways to stop being a people-pleaser:
Setting clear boundaries is an essential step in stopping people-pleasing behaviour. It is crucial to learn how to set boundaries, especially for those who struggle to say no.
The Importance of Clear Boundaries
Healthy boundaries are essential for maintaining healthy relationships. It is important to establish personal boundaries to ensure that you are treated with respect and dignity. Clear boundaries help you to avoid feeling overwhelmed and stressed. They also help you to communicate your needs and desires effectively.
Learning to Say No
Learning to say no is a crucial part of setting boundaries. People-pleasers often struggle to say no because they fear rejection or disappointing others. However, it is important to remember that saying no is not a bad thing. It allows you to take control of your life and make decisions on your own terms.
Saying no to the things that don’t fill your cup also makes room for you to say yes to the things that really do matter! Be intentional with what you say yes to.
Protecting Your Own Space and Time
Setting boundaries also means protecting your own space and time. It is essential to learn to say no to requests that interfere with your personal time or prevent you from doing things that are important to you.
This may mean spending less time with certain people or declining certain invitations.
Low self-esteem is often the root cause of people-pleasing behaviour. People with low self-esteem feel the need to please others to gain approval and validation.
Building self-esteem is crucial to overcoming this behaviour. Here are some ways to improve self-esteem:
Challenging Negative Self-Talk
Negative self-talk can be a major obstacle to self-esteem. People with low self-esteem often engage in negative self-talk, which can be damaging to their sense of self. Challenge these negative thoughts by questioning their validity.
For example, if you think “I’m not capable of this,” ask yourself to think of evidence that contradicts this thought. This can help you see that the negative thoughts are not always accurate.
Practising Positive Self-Affirmations
Positive self-affirmations can help boost self-esteem. Come up with positive statements about yourself and repeat them regularly.
For example, “I am worthy of love and respect,” or “I am capable and competent.” This can help you develop a more positive sense of self.
Recognising Your True Value
People-pleasers often undervalue themselves and their contributions. Take the time to recognise your true value by listing out your strengths and accomplishments.
Daily journal writing can help with this or a daily gratitude practice, such as keeping a gratitude list or finding 3 things each day to be grateful for. Someone who seeks positivity will find it easier to find the positives in themselves.
Overcoming the Need for Approval
Being a people pleaser can be exhausting and can lead to neglecting one’s own needs and desires. Overcoming the need for approval is a crucial step in breaking free from this pattern of behaviour. Here are some ways to overcome the need for approval.
Detaching from Others’ Approval
One of the first steps in overcoming the need for approval is to detach from the opinions of others. It is important to recognise that everyone has different expectations and values, and it is impossible to please everyone.
Instead of seeking approval from others, focus on being true to oneself and living life on one’s own terms. This can be achieved by setting personal boundaries and learning to say no when necessary.
These journal prompts for self-discovery can help you dig into your personal values and whether you are living in alignment with them right now.
Focusing on Personal Values and Goals
Focusing on personal values and goals is another way to overcome the need for approval. It is important to identify one’s own values and goals and work towards them, rather than trying to conform to the expectations of others.
This can help to build self-confidence and a sense of purpose, which can be empowering.
Making Decisions for Yourself
Making decisions for yourself is also crucial in overcoming the need for approval. It is important to trust your own instincts and make decisions based on what is best for you, rather than seeking the approval of others.
This can be achieved by taking time to reflect on your own needs and desires and making decisions based on what feels right.
In the grand scheme of things, you’re the one living your life and you need to live it the way that feels good and right for you. With this in mind, you can make better decisions that serve your personal purpose, and just the wants of others.
Practical Steps to Change
Becoming aware of one’s people-pleasing tendencies is an important first step in breaking the cycle. However, it is not enough to simply recognise the problem. We must take specific actions to change our behaviour.
Here are some practical steps to help people-pleasers break the cycle:
Recognising Triggers and Patterns
The first step in changing people-pleasing behaviour is to recognise the triggers and patterns that lead to it. This can be done by taking a short pause before agreeing to do something for someone else.
During this time, people-pleasers can ask themselves if they are saying yes out of obligation or because they genuinely want to help.
Developing Specific Skills
Developing specific skills can help people-pleasers become more assertive and confident in their interactions with others. This can include learning how to say no, setting boundaries, and communicating effectively.
You will also benefit from developing self-care practices, such as mindfulness, exercise, or spending time with loved ones.
Implementing Small Changes Consistently
Breaking the cycle of people-pleasing takes time and effort. It is important to start with small steps and implement changes consistently over time.
Start by saying no to small requests or setting boundaries with friends and family who are supportive and understanding. Over time, you can gradually increase the difficulty of the situations they say no to and become more assertive in interactions with others who may be a little more prone to taking advantage of your kindness and difficulty with declining.
Prioritising Your Own Well-being
Prioritising your own well-being is the best way to stop people-pleasing. This means taking care of yourself first, before worrying about the happiness of others.
When you prioritise your own well-being, you are more likely to make decisions that are in your best interests, rather than trying to please others. A healthy body starts with a healthy mind and your needs are your first priority.
Breaking free from people-pleasing behaviours is not always easy and can be a challenging journey. Seeking support from trusted friends, family, or a therapist can be a game-changer for a recovering people pleaser.
The Role of Therapy
A clinical psychologist can help a recovering people pleaser to understand the root causes of their behaviour and develop new ways of thinking and behaving.
Therapy can also provide a safe space to explore past traumas or relationship systems that may have contributed to the development of people-pleasing tendencies and identify any toxic people currently in your life that may be making it harder to move forward.
Leaning on Trusted Friends and Family
Talking to trusted friends and family members about your struggles with people-pleasing can be a helpful step.
It is essential to seek out individuals who have your best interests in mind. These individuals can offer valuable guidance, unwavering encouragement, and a compassionate listening ear, while helping you stay firm to putting your own life and needs ahead of others’ needs.
Assess Your Romantic Relationships
People-pleasing can also manifest in romantic relationships. Many people pleasers feel an intense need to make their partner happy, sometimes at the expense of their own happiness or values.
It is crucial to assess your current and past romantic relationships and identify any patterns of codependency or unhealthy dynamics that may exist.
Setting Boundaries In Romantic Relationships
Setting and maintaining boundaries is another crucial aspect of breaking free from people-pleasing behaviours. This can be especially difficult in romantic relationships, where there may be a fear of losing the relationship or causing conflict.
It is important to communicate openly and assertively with your partner about your boundaries and to hold firm to them, even if it means risking their disappointment or disapproval.
If they aren’t on board with your need to prioritise yourself, perhaps they aren’t the kind of person you want to be in a relationship with. Remember, true love and healthy relationships involve mutual respect and support for each other’s individual needs and boundaries.
Final Thoughts: Overcoming People Pleasing
Breaking free from people-pleasing behaviours is a process that takes time and effort. It requires self-awareness, courage, and a willingness to challenge yourself and your beliefs.
But the benefits of letting go of people-pleasing are immeasurable. You will discover a newfound sense of self-worth, confidence, and authenticity. Your relationships will become healthier and more fulfilling. And most importantly, you will be living life on your own terms, rather than constantly seeking validation from others.
So don’t be afraid to say no, set boundaries, and prioritise your own happiness and well-being. You deserve it. And remember, it’s never too late to start being true to yourself and breaking free from the burden of people-pleasing!
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