How to Stop People Pleasing 101

Are you kind to everyone you meet? Would people describe you as big-hearted? That is not the same as being a people pleaser. Do you sometimes accommodate others even though you’d rather not? That still might not be enough to classify you as a people pleaser.

No, a people pleaser is someone who simply does not have the luxury of choice. Not because they truly do not have a choice, but because it is now a lifestyle. People-pleasing is now compulsive, they say yes to everything and everyone because they feel incapable of saying no.

Everyone wants to feel safe, accepted and loved. It’s literally written in our DNA because humans are social creatures. We form communities and we always have so we have evolved to seek acceptance from others. Unfortunately, people pleasers figure out the most effective way to find acceptance is to allow someone else’s wants, wishes, and desires to take precedence over their own. It’s fine at first because it works.

We experience less conflict so everything must be great, right? The only problem is that external conflict dissipates while internal conflict builds.

It’s gone on too long by this point, you’ve been marked as someone who says yes to everything and trying to redraw your boundaries is stressful. You feel guilty with every no and worry about upsetting or disappointing people. Sometimes, you have to choose between yourself and everything else.

People-pleasing is denying yourself and your needs to accommodate everyone else’s. You’re a nice person, but you’re hurting yourself in a bid to serve others. There’s a good chance you’re stressed out, exhausted, and overworked. This might take a toll on your health, both mental and physical. You’re running out of time and energy and you’re approaching breaking point.

You can help others without harming yourself.

  • You Come First

Your needs should always be met first. When you do it the other way around you will never have the time or energy to address your needs. It’s okay to make yourself a priority. (Think about the airlines first reminder, put on your air mask before you help someone else.) If someone makes a request of you, you can simply explain you have some things to do for yourself right now. It’s all about setting and enforcing limits thus prioritizing yourself as a result. You have to recharge your batteries.

  • Schedule

Think of your time like you do your finances. Just as you sit down and create a budget, you can sit down and create a schedule of your time. What time do you need for yourself? What time do you need for tasks, errands, and responsibilities, and what is left over? When someone asks for your help, you can consult your schedule.

Just as you do with time, you can also budget energy. Do you have the energy to undertake this request? Don’t overwork yourself just because you feel bad or guilty saying no.

  • Delayed Agreement

Don’t feel compelled to agree to something or someone immediately. A common people-pleasing response is to immediately agree only to realize later that it’s impossible. Giving yourself time and space to check your schedule gives you space to consider whether you want to or can help out.

  • Just Say No

While some say sorry is the hardest word, no is often just as difficult. At least, it is where people-pleasers are concerned. When you say no, do not feel as though you have to offer a justification. There is no need to provide an explanation or an excuse. NO is a complete sentence. Learning how to say “No, I can’t do that,” is a great way for people-pleasers to reestablish their boundaries.  

If that sounds like the scariest thing you have ever heard, then you can practice with explanations and work up to a flat no. Just remember this, the more of an explanation you offer the easier others will find it to talk you into it. If you must offer an explanation, be as vague as you can to give yourself space.

  • You Can’t Please Everyone

When you say so to one thing, you are saying no to something else. Did you commit your time to a committee? You may not be home for dinner with the family. Did you commit to help someone with a project over the weekend?  You aren’t available for that movie your friend wanted to attend with you.  Instead of looking at it as saying no, adjust your perspective to what is receiving your yes.

Change your PERSPECTIVE and you will notice POSSIBILITIES leading to PATHWAYS opening onto which you choose to PROCEED.

I will be hosting a 6-week online group “Yes You Can Say No – It’s Time to Quit Trying to Please Everyone” This will begin September 13, 2021. Details and registration may be found at:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top