8 Real Red Flags That You Are a People Pleaser & 5 Helpful Habits to Stop

By Krista


Last Updated: November 20, 2021

Being kind is something we should all constantly strive for.

Yet, people-pleasing takes this to a whole other level — one where you might end up feeling overly anxious, stressed, and emotionally spent. 

People-pleasing isn’t just about being kind. Rather, it involves going out of your way to change what you say or how you behave to cater to other people’s reactions and feelings. 

Here’s the thing: You actually have no control over other people’s reactions or feelings. And editing yourself can drain you and keep you from being your authentic and real self. Now, what kind of life is that?

In this article, we’re going to determine if you are, in fact, a “people-pleaser” and how you can stop. From there, you can gain a greater sense of self, fulfillment, and happiness in your life (yes, it’s possible!).


8 Signs You’re a People Pleaser

“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” - Lao Tzu

People-pleasing means you put someone else’s needs first.

While in some situations this can be helpful, doing this all the time can lead to serious self-neglect. If you keep this up throughout your life, you might never reach your full potential. And when you’re knee-deep in it, it can be hard to recognize the signs. 

With that in mind, here are 8 signs you might be a people pleaser:

1. You agree, even when you don’t.

As a people pleaser, you long for approval and you love to be agreeable. Thus, you might go along with things, even when you don’t necessarily agree. You simply want to make others happy.

Ultimately, this can lead to frustration down the road, as well as flawed ways of doing things.

2. You have zero free time.

  • Are you always giving your time away to others?
  • Do you rarely have time to yourself?

You might want to slam on the breaks here. You might be putting others before you. Everyone needs downtime and free time. It’s okay to say you need time alone or time to unwind as an excuse to say no. 

3. You apologize, even when it’s not your fault.

When situations get tense, you apologize and take the hit. Yet, you aren’t even sure if it’s your fault. Your goal is, essentially, to dissipate any conflict. However, this can lead to not trusting yourself, self-depreciation, and more. 

Stick to apologizing when you know what you’ve done wrong and are truly remorseful. This not only makes you more authentic but also leads to increased confidence.

Related Article: Stop Over-Apologizing: Why Saying Sorry Less Can Make You Feel More Powerful

4. You can’t say “no.”

You don’t want anyone to think you don’t care, so you rarely say no. However, this backfires. You might be left feeling exhausted. Additionally, you aren’t setting healthy boundaries, which can lead to you being taken advantage of by others.

Related Article: Do You Say “Yes” When You Want To Say “No”? 5 Tips For Better Boundaries

5. You worry about rejection and have a need for others to like you.

  • Is the idea of rejection unbearable?
  • Do you have this drive for people to like you?

It’s time to start looking inward rather than outward. 

6. You give so others like you.

Giving is supposed to be a selfless act. While it truly never is, regardless, your goal with giving shouldn’t be for others to like you. Also, just because you give, it doesn’t mean it will be reciprocated. 

7. You notice or feel like people take advantage of you.

Do you have a suspicion that you’re being used? These are alarm bells going off! You might be too much of a people-pleaser if this is the case. And again, it’s time to set boundaries.

8. You don’t get what you need from your relationships.

Not getting what you need might be a sure-fire sign that you’re putting everyone else ahead of yourself. This might lead to bitterness, jadedness, and other serious life struggles. A healthy relationship should go two ways, always.


5 Ways to Stop People Pleasing

So, how can you knock it off? 

The truth is that a lot of these tendencies come from past trauma and self-esteem issues. But it doesn’t mean you can’t change the path you’re on!

First and foremost, it might help to talk to someone. No, nothing is “wrong” with you. But discussing your struggles with a professional can help you pave a clear path, one where you want your life to go.

In the meantime, you can practice the following habits:

1. Only show kindness when it’s meaningful.

This means assessing why you’re doing the act of kindness in the first place. Are you seeking approval? How will you feel if the act of kindness isn’t returned? Ideally, you should be okay with it.

2. Take time for yourself.

The truth is that you can’t give your best without feeling your best. If you aren’t taking care of you’re number one (you), you’re selling yourself and everyone you love short. So, take that time. Indulge for YOU. 

3. Set healthy boundaries.

Without them, you’re literally inviting people to walk all over you and take advantage of you. 

4. Assess the requests of others.

Just because someone asks you to do something, it doesn’t mean you should do it. Why are you doing it? Is it a reasonable ask? Is it coming from someone who always asks of you but is never there when you need them?

5. Simply keep in mind that a healthy relationship requires give and take on both sides.

Relationships should never be a one-track thing. It requires the effort of both parties. If you don’t feel you’re getting back the effort you put in (in different ways), it might be time to sever ties, as well as refer to the above.


Start Putting Yourself First

It might seem unnatural at first.

And that’s okay! It might take some practice and time. Yet, finding that balance between kindness and caring for yourself is one of the greatest things you can do. So, show yourself a little kindness.

Pour some of that effort and energy into you. So many great things can come from it!

Read Next: When You’re Struggling With Not Feeling Good Enough, Try This

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash


5 comments on “8 Real Red Flags That You Are a People Pleaser & 5 Helpful Habits to Stop”

  1. I've always suffered from insomnia & have used drugs half my life...until, I stopped working at 60 years old (retired disabled). The processes you mention above are solid ways to get some rest & now I get at least 7 hours a night. I'm working part time in a supermarket now & absolutely love it. I'm not working to survive anymore & love chatting with people!! I'm living on my terms & it's great!

    1. Congratulations, Marguerite! How wonderful that you've found something you enjoy and that you're getting more sleep! All the best to you 🙂

  2. Love the article until the end "5 Ways to Stop People Pleasing." I have a feeling you wrestled with it too as "5 Ways to Stop People Pleasing" is actually quite negative.

    Maybe 5 Healthy practices for pleasing others that gain respect and build confidence. Something like that, as to me "5 Ways to Stop People Pleasing" says I'm going to teach you to be self centered, and I know that is not what this article was about. Even your five practices at the end are perfect and actually pleasing to others as people can tell when you are trying to hard.

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