Ready to stop being a people pleaser?
Spending all of your time worrying about other people and making them happy while you’re completely losing sight of yourself?
In this guide on how to stop being a people pleaser once and for all, we’re going to go over some of the best ways to regain control of your life and stop losing all of your energy to make other people happy.
Before we get down to the tips and techniques to end your people pleasing days, we first need to make sure that we’re all on the same page.
While being a people pleaser is a bad thing, being a kind and generous person is a good thing.
People find it hard to tell the difference, and assume that not being a people pleaser means they need to be mean, detached, or rude.
But the difference is really that someone who is a people pleaser is going to tie their emotional self-worth to pleasing other people and making sure that other people are happy with them, as well as an inability to set boundaries and putting the pleasing of other people above themselves at basically all times.
A kind and generous person may do things for other people often, but they’re not doing it because they feel like they need other people to be happy to be fulfilled, but rather because they have extra energy to give and want to do so.
1. Get Therapy
The first, most obvious, way to stop being a people pleaser is to get yourself into therapy.
Therapy isn’t just for people who are struggling with serious mental health issues, but for everyone to get a handle on our own ways of seeing the world and living life in the healthiest way possible.
While cost can sometimes be a barrier, there are cheaper options and virtual options like Better Help to make sure that you can have access to a licensed therapist.
A therapist can help you shed light on your people pleasing behaviors and get to the root of them.
They can also provide resources and techniques on how to stop these behaviors, as well as ongoing support as you work through these issues.
We put “therapy” first not because it’s the only option, but to emphasize how normal it is to get therapy and how you really should consider it.
2. Practice Boundaries
Boundaries are usually not well-developed in people pleasers, either because you put them up but let other people easily break them or you don’t put them up at all.
Boundaries are not a bad thing.
They are something that everyone should have in all of their interpersonal relationships in order to stay healthy and positive.
We naturally develop boundaries, but we can also purposefully put boundaries in place in order to improve our mental health.
Let’s say you’re a people pleaser and one of the main problems is you’re not getting enough sleep because you’re staying up late every night helping someone with their homework or doing other things for them or running errands late into the night.
In this instance, a boundary you could start to set would be that you are home and not helping anyone else by 8pm every night.
This is going to help you start to wean yourself off from those people pleasing tendencies, and it’s going to be hard at first.
However, setting a practical boundary like that can be a great way to start learning boundaries, as it’s easier to know if you’re sticking to it than something more vague.
Other examples might be you’re only going to drive 5 minutes out of your way to help a toxic friend who always asks you to go out of your way to get them out of situations, or you’re only going to call your mom once per day even though she wants to talk on the phone 5 or 6 times.
3. Develop Self-Esteem in Healthy Ways
When you’re a people-pleaser, you want to please people almost obsessively.
When everyone is happy and happy with you in particular, you feel good about yourself and like you’re doing something right.
If they’re not happy with you, even if you are not doing anything wrong and their upset is based on their own issues, it can destroy you inside if your self-esteem comes from them.
To get over your people-pleasing, you’re going to have to start to develop a self-esteem that comes from an intrinsic place that doesn’t involve other people.
To feel good, to feel whole, to feel happy with who you are, you need to understand your worth as a human being outside of what anyone thinks or says about you.
This can be a long journey that starts with a lot of positive self-talk and breaking of old habits (this is where the therapy is helpful), but it’s impossible to stop being a people pleaser if you don’t work to gain that self-esteem from other areas.
Take up hobbies, do yoga, journaling, go on a retreat, try and learn new skills, and start putting your energy into yourself rather than other people.
4. Say “No” More than You Think You Should
People pleasers often don’t know how to say “no.”
You don’t have to be rude when you say no – there are plenty of polite ways to say no, but you should start forcing yourself to say no more than you think you should.
The problem with a people pleaser is that when someone asks you to do something, you basically jump up and say “I’M READY!”
Even if that means it was inconvenient for you or you really couldn’t stretch yourself this time, you don’t want to say no for fear of them being mad at you, which is the ultimate nightmare for a people pleaser.
Try saying “no” in polite ways in smaller situations at first that have less urgency.
So if your friend is sick and needs medicine, go ahead and say yes if you have the time to help them.
If your coworker forgot their lunch and feels like they don’t have time to go out and buy one so they ask you to as a “favor,” say no even if you technically could make the time to get it.
You can say something very simply, like “I’m so sorry, but I’m absolutely swamped prepping for this meeting. I’m not even sure I’ll have time to eat my own lunch!”
Oftentimes, people will be absolutely fine with a “no” and if they’re not (and the situation isn’t life or death), then the problem is usually with that person rather than you not be available to cater to their every w him.
5. Make a List of Your Good Qualities that Don’t Involve Other People
It’s time to stop defining your own worth by what other people think of you.
Often, people will list their positive qualities and it will be things like, “good listener” or “always happy to help.”
And, yes, those are nice qualities to have, but what about qualities that have nothing to do with other people?
Are you intelligent? Funny? Great at math? Creative?
It’s harder to come up with qualities that don’t involve other people sometimes, but it’s absolutely essential.
Sit down and seriously think hard about what is great about you, even when you’re doing nothing to please other people.
If you have trouble, ask your friends or family you trust to help you come up with some ideas.
This is going to help show you that even if Suzy is mad at you because you wouldn’t drop everything to go take her dog to the groomers, you are still creative, intelligent, and a great person and her thoughts about you don’t get to dictate how you feel about yourself.
6. Stop and Pause Before Every Response
A people pleaser can get into the habit of constantly doing things to please people before they even think about it.
They’re the “yes” people, even if they’re being asked to give someone the last parachute when they really need it themselves.
A great way to start breaking this pattern is to be more mindful of what you’re responding to people or how often you’re jumping into action to help someone out (even if they didn’t ask for it).
You might still carry on with the action, but at least it will get you in the habit of thinking about what it is you’re about to do or say and to really pay attention to how you react (and how you would prefer to react next time).
7. Start with the “Outer Circle” and Work Your Way In
When it comes to setting boundaries and stopping your people pleasing tendencies, it can be beneficial to start with strangers or people you aren’t as close to.
It’s much easier to start learning good habits and not tying your emotional wellbeing into your coworkers than it is your husband, mom, or best friend.
That’s the key takeaway here, really.
You don’t have to do it all at once.
Start small, habit by habit, person by person, and truly reevaluate your relationship with them and whether you’re doing things just to please them to make you feel good and worthy or whether your relationship is built in equal trust, admiration, and time and resources given.
Will they still support you when you say something or do something that they don’t feel is in their best interest?
Will they respect you when they can’t use you anymore for their own personal gain?
These are the real questions to ask yourself on your journey towards kicking that people pleasing habit to the curb.