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How to Stop Being a People Pleaser (23 Simple Ways)

Last updated on July 7, 2022 by Sonya Schwartz

There is a thin line between trying to keep the peace and being a full-blown people pleaser. You see, people-pleasers tend to go out of their way to keep everyone placated. There is no way you can completely wholly win approval from humans. In fact, pleasing one person could directly displeasure the next. 

I know how it feels to feel exhausted as a result of bending over backward for everyone. So, if you are finally ready to take your own needs into account, this is the place to be. Your emotional well-being is at stake if your people-pleasing tendencies run loose. 

With that in mind, here are 23 ways to stop being a people pleaser.

23 Ways to Stop Being a People Pleaser

1. Think things through

Every people pleaser tends to jump at the chance to do things for others when they ask. They feel that they lead a transactional relationship with the people around them. If this sounds like you, then this is the first port of call. Once your man, a colleague, or even a family member asks you to do something, it's ok to ask for some time to think things through.

You already know that you jump through hoops for others. So, sit down and consider this. Do you have time to help them out? Are you giving up personal obligations to help them out? Do you truly want to help? If the answer is no, then you should sit that one out.

2. Baby steps

People who aren’t people pleasers often feel that it is simple to ‘snap out of it.’ Meanwhile, the truth is that just because something is easy for Mr. A doesn’t make it easy for Mr. B. Saying no is incredibly difficult for the people-pleasing type. So, instead of diving straight into the deep end, it pays to take baby steps

Start off by saying no to tiny favors, you do not have to go for the big ones right off the bat. These things take time and putting yourself in an uncomfortable position based on popular demand is also people-pleasing.

3. Get to know yourself

People-pleasing types know what their friends or family need. Due to years of accommodating their needs, they understand them thoroughly. As a result, people-pleasers are hardly what you would consider self-aware. One of the facilities needed to establish boundaries is self-awareness.

With this in mind, it is vital to go on a journey of personal discovery. Finding out what you enjoy and what you dislike will help shape the things you accept to do. For instance, let's say you discover that you do not like margaritas. Yet your friend holds a steady margarita night that you are obliged to attend.

With this new information, maybe you could put your foot down and opt for other drinks instead.

4. Learn how to sniff out manipulation

Individuals with people-pleasing tendencies feed off the acceptance offered to them. So, once anyone pays them a compliment or rubs them the right way, they fall in line. For instance, a friend may get you to watch their kid by saying, “ You know you are better with kids than I am, please help me watch Alice tonight.”

Of course, helping your friend out is not a bad thing. Nevertheless, the manipulation aspect is not great. Sometimes, a compliment is a compliment. But, if this friend dictates your availability to accommodate their needs, that is manipulation. Learn to identify the tell-tale signs of manipulation and put your foot down when the need arises.

5. Be your biggest fan

Seeking external validation is a huge issue when it comes to people-pleasing types. That is why you need to learn how to be the first port of call when validation is involved. Engage in positive self-talk any time you feel like you cannot hold your reserve. I assure you that the journey to coming into your own will not be easy. But it will be worth it at the end of the day.

In that sense, you need to learn how to pick yourself up when no one else is there to do it. Reassure yourself that your needs are valid and you are not a horrible person for taking care of number one.

6. Set milestones and rewards

The road to becoming more assertive is not a straightforward one. You will have setbacks, you will have relapses and you may break down along the way. To ensure that you can look back and gauge your progress, set out some milestones. It is not enough to set milestones, also make efforts to reward yourself when you reach your set milestones.

Everyone’s people-pleasing concerns are different. In some cases they can never say no, in others, they go out of their way to avoid confrontation. Tackling each of these one at a time within a given timeframe will make it easier. The incentives along the road will make it even more worthwhile.

7. Establish clear boundaries

establish clear boundaries

Boundaries are important in every relationship. Whether this involves your mom or boyfriend, without boundaries you will have no life of your own. First, figure out how much you are willing to take on. Then if someone asks for more than that, you are well within your rights to say no. Also, do not be vague and passive-aggressive about your stance.

Clearly and politely let people know that their requests are overboard. It may not warrant a response that you will like, but it will stop people from constantly taking advantage of you. Do not just establish boundaries surrounding what you are willing to do, but when you can do them should also be covered.

8. Pick your battles

There is that initial thrill when you first start asserting yourself. You feel the need to rip everyone a new one. Here is the thing, you do not have to be rude to be assertive. With that in mind, you need to pick your battles. Sure, picking up your boss’ laundry is not part of your duties. But if they ask you to stay late at the office every now and then, that is no reason to lash out. 

If it is not particularly worth it to assert yourself, then take the high road. Life is all about striking a balance. So, know when to say no and when to let things slide.

9. Stay away from excuses

People-pleasing types tend to try their best to stay neutral. They do not want to get on anyone’s bad side, so even when they say no, it’s ridden with excuses. This is a no-no. If you do not want to do something for someone then don’t. Even more, you do not have to make any excuses for it. As long as you are not being rude about it, it is alright to straight-up say to someone no.

The minute you start making excuses, you give people the space to discredit your reasons. Even more, you give them room to adjust their requests. Do not give anyone the rope to hang you, the blow is more painful.

10. Remember to receive once in a while

Does this sound selfish? Well for a typical people pleaser, being selfish is completely out of character. Look at it this way, every relationship should have that give and take element. If you notice that you are always giving, then there is a problem somewhere. As much as you enjoy doing things for other people, you need to get something back once in a while.

Make a conscious decision to receive every now and then. Oftentimes, the case is not that no one wants to give. It is simply that you do not even give people the opportunity to do anything for you. So, take a breather once in a while and receive.

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11. Reel it in with the apologies

Another trait that is common to the people pleaser is constantly apologizing. Even in the case that you are not at fault, you feel the need to apologize. If this sounds familiar, then you need to make a conscious decision to reel it in with apologies. Every time to offer an apology, take the time to analyze the situation.

Are you really at fault? If you are not, then there is no need to say sorry. This will help establish the fact that you are not responsible for everyone’s happiness. Anyone who wants to like you will do so regardless of how many times you say no.

12. Take care of yourself

Some people need to be reminded to take care of themselves. If this sounds like you, then you need to make a conscious decision to practice some self-love. This involves doing things that will refresh your spirit, body, and soul. If you enjoy spa days then by all means indulge. Also, if spending time with family works for you, then go ahead and do that. 

Practicing self-care will not just refresh you thoroughly, it will teach you to regard yourself. The moment you do this, it will be easier to put yourself first in stressful situations. Also, it will make you feel good and more confident.

13. Normalize saying no

This is one of the biggest problems that the typical people pleaser encounters. Saying no is incredibly uncomfortable for them. Nevertheless, there is no way you can function healthily without saying no once in a while. Remember the early point about taking baby steps. Well, that really applies in this situation.

Come to the realization that saying no does not make you a bad person. It is something that normal human beings do on a daily basis. So do not feel like you are the only person on the planet that is dishing out no’s. 

14. Do not feel pressured to volunteer your help

do not feel pressured to volunteer your help

Sometimes, manipulative people do not come straight out with their requests. They drop subliminal subtexts that point to the fact that they need help. For instance, a friend may say, “I am so tired today, I wish I did not have to take my cat to the vet today.” Instead of jumping at the chance to help them out, offer a heartfelt apology. Sure, your friend is tired, but if you are already swamped, there is no need for you to step in.

Also, the fact that they feel the need to set you up for a favor means they know the buttons to push. Do not encourage that kind of behavior.

15. Expect to offend some people

Especially when you have spent a huge amount of time catering to the needs of others, expect some sort of fallout. Some people will not be pleased with the fact that they can no longer control you. So, prepare your mind for the inevitable. The truth of the matter is that the fallout is never as catastrophic as you imagine.

Even more, anyone who blows things out of proportion does not have your best interest at heart. Taking a stand once in a while should not be the reason that your friendship or relationship goes down the drain.

16. Consider who you have time to help

Most people will do anything for friends or family members. That is just the way the world works. With that in mind, there is nothing wrong with going out of your way to help loved ones. Outside this group of people, you should probably reel it in with the favors. As nice as it is to do nice things regardless of the person involved, you should not put yourself out for a stranger.

So, set clear boundaries when it involves people you will go out of your way to help. For instance, do not choose a new acquaintance you are trying to impress over your best friend.

17. Understand that you cannot please everyone

This cannot be reiterated enough. When it comes to human beings, their needs are insatiable. If you keep giving, it is human nature to keep receiving. Even more, you cannot please everyone. Some people will never be satisfied, regardless of how much you put into the relationship. So, do not spread yourself thin in a bid to be everything for everyone.

On one hand, people will keep expecting more from you. On the other hand, you will neglect your personal needs in the process.

18. Acknowledge that you always have a choice

You may feel like you do not have a say when it comes to helping people. This is mostly because of their need for constant validation. Getting a friend upset seems like the worst thing in the world. Nevertheless, it is not the end of the world. Constantly remind yourself that you have a choice in the matter. 

They would not call these things requests if you did not have a say in the matter. So, before you automatically dish out that ‘yes’, remember that you have a choice.

19. Evaluate the request

Before you jump at any request that comes your way, take time to evaluate it. First, do you have time to help? Second, is the need coming from a genuine place? You should equally assess whether the person is trying to manipulate you. Whether you admit it or not, you do not give normal responses when it comes to requests.

As such, you need to take a bit more time to mull them over. Some things are clearly no-brainers. For instance, taking time out to help a friend who just lost a loved one. On the other hand, there are cases where the request is not valid enough for you to donate your time. These are things to consider as you evaluate each request.

20. Establish your priorities

Regardless if you are the people-pleasing type or not, when something is important you will go all out. With this in mind, establish your priorities. Who are those people you can safely drop everything for because they would do the same for you? Also, when do you mostly get that gut feeling telling you to say no? Once you have the answers to these questions, it will be easier to assert yourself.

21. Look at the damage you may be causing

look at the damage you may be causing

This does not only cover the damage you are doing to your self-esteem. But the people around you are also affected by this trait. Your tendency to try to accommodate everyone’s needs makes you unreliable. It is a harsh truth, but people require loyalty and stability in their relationships. So, before you zero your mind on changing, look at the ways you may be hurting the people you love.

22. Look for healthy ways to handle any guilt

When you first start saying no, there may be some guilt that follows. To ensure that you do not fall back into your old ways, look for healthy ways to deal with the guilt. Whatever you do, do not internalize it. If you need to talk to someone or assure yourself, do just that and move on. Remember, saying no once in a while doesn’t hurt anyone.

23. Help people when you want to

Let’s face it, you enjoy helping people. It is embedded in your personality and that does not have to change. You can help people when you feel like it. Just have the strength and will to say no when you genuinely cannot make time for it. Part of coming out of the people-pleaser state of mind involves doing what makes you happy for a change. 

If helping people makes you happy, then by all means go all out. Just ensure that you do it well within your limits. No one should dictate what ultimately makes you happy. That duty is solely in your ball court. 

FAQs

What is a pleaser personality?

Anyone with a pleaser personality type is constantly seeking validation from others. This stems from a place of low self-esteem and a self-worth deficiency. As a result, people pleasers find it hard to set healthy boundaries in all types of relationships. Altogether, they tend to be emotionally needy and believe that people only like them when they bend over backward.

What do you do if you are a people pleaser?

The first step is to come to the realization that you cannot please everyone. Some people are bound to be displeased with everything you do. With this in mind, the next step is to accept that your true self may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Then set boundaries to ensure that people do not get in the way of your own happiness.

How do you recover from a people pleaser?

It all hinges around setting healthy boundaries. You cannot just stop people-pleasing cold turkey, but boundaries are a good start. Also, it is important to consciously make an effort to achieve your own goals. Even more, taking time to assess your own needs before helping the next person is vital.

How do you know if someone is a people pleaser?

People-pleasing is often equated with niceness. While people-pleasers are nice, they often do this at their own detriment. If you are a people pleaser, ‘no’ is not part of your vocabulary. You equally avoid conflict to the point of losing yourself. Altogether, people pleasers need constant validation from others.

How do you date a people pleaser?

The first step is to acknowledge that your partner is a people pleaser. Then come to the realization together. This way, you can work on it together, while they do what they need to do to develop. Also, set boundaries of your own in order to show them how interpersonal relationships should go. Furthermore, do not try to fix them, advise and guide them as they discover themselves.

In Conclusion

The only person that can put an end to your people-pleasing actions is you. It does not go away overnight, rather it involves conscious actions. With that in mind, I hope that the tips I have outlined lead to a positive change. Definitely, I may have left a few things out, do mention some tips that have worked for you in the comment section below further. Furthermore, feel free to share this article with anyone who may need that nudge in the right direction.

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Sonya Schwartz
A hopeless romantic that struggled for many years to find her Mr "Right" and made all the mistakes you could think of while dating. Known for always choosing the wrong guys or messing up relationships, Sonya was finally able to change her approach and mindset when it came to dating which helped her eventually find the man of her dreams and become happily married. You can read more about me here...

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