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Are You A People-Pleaser?

Thoughtful, caring, and empathetic people, who read others well, often find themselves doing what ever it takes to make other people happy. Of course it is considered "nice" to be kind, cordial, and friendly, but when we do whatever it takes to please someone else, at the detriment of our own needs, it means we are people-pleasing and it can leave us feeling depressed, stressed and anxious!

Here are a some signs you may be a people-pleaser:

  • You have a difficult time saying "no', or feel guilty when you do say "no."

  • You are very concerned with what other people think of you.

  • You fear people will think you are mean or selfish if you say no or disagree.

  • You find yourself agreeing to things you don’t like or doing things you do not really want to do.

  • You’re always apologizing, and telling people you’re sorry.

  • You take the blame even when something is not your fault.

  • You are always doing things for other people and have little time to yourself.

  • Your own needs are neglected because you are doing things for others.

  • You pretend to agree with people even though you feel differently.

There are many reasons someone may be a people-pleaser. Here are just a few reasons:

Traumatic Experience:

People-pleasing can be a learned way of interacting as a result of trauma. People who have been in abusive situations may change their own behaviors in an attempt to ensure that they avoid triggering abusive behaviors in others around them. (Walking on egg shells/fawning is indeed a form of people pleasing.)

Lack of Self-Confidence:

Someone who has a low self esteem or lacks self confidence may people-please because they are looking for external validation to feel good enough, smart enough, or nice enough.


Someone who is a perfectionist likes to ensure that everything is done perfectly so that they are not judged by others, and people-pleasing is just another way for them to ensure that people think they are perfect, and to not show their flaws!

Avoiding Conflict:

For some, communication with others can be extremely uncomfortable and it may feel easier to people-please than to disagree. People-pleasing happens when they don't speak up about things they disagree with, or they fail to set and keep healthy boundaries. Unfortunately, when conflict is avoided it can quickly lead to resentment.

Unable To Say No:

For some people, it can be difficult to set and keep healthy boundaries, and they find themselves saying yes when they really want to say no!

Lack of self-love:

People-pleasers are always ready and willing to be there for others, but not for themselves. They give great advice, but people-pleasers usually don’t feel good enough or worthy enough to listen to their own advice, or help themselves.

Being a nice or helpful person can be a healthy part of being a good human being, however if you find that you are angry, resentful or frustrated with yourself for being so nice all the time it may be a problem for you. If you are feeling anxious or depressed because your own needs are not being met, again, it may indeed be an issue.

If you find people-pleasing to be a problem, what can you do to stop?

  • Ask yourself if you really want to do something for someone and what the reason is behind why you are doing it. Examine your motivations and your intentions so that you are choosing to do things because you want to, not because you are afraid to say no, or you are habitually people-pleasing.

  • Learn how to ask for time "to think about it", when you are asked to do something for someone. Take some time to ask questions, and figure out how much time, and exactly what is involved, before you say yes. This way, you can decide if you have the time and resources to be able to say yes to the request, and make an informed decision.

  • Start by learning how to say "no" in a safe way. First say no via text, then once you are comfortable, you can say no over the phone, and then finally in person! Remember "No." It's a full sentence, and no explanation is required. Start with co-workers, the server at a restaurant, or a sales person, once you feel more comfortable saying no to strangers, you can then start saying no to people you know and love who may have taken advantage of your kindness in the past.

  • Set goals for your life. Ask yourself if you truly have the time and resources available to help others, and if doing so is taking away from your own goals and life aspirations.

  • Make sure you are doing good things on your terms, help those who truly need your help, and do the things you want to do. Choose not to do things for others because you fear rejection or want their approval, do it becuase you truly want to!

If you would like help understanding why you have been people-pleasing and would like to learn how to change that habit, feel free to reach out!

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