Are You Struggling With Being a People Pleaser? 5 Ways to Help You Find Better Balance

By Reniel


Last Updated: January 19, 2022

Do you find it difficult saying no or setting boundaries?

Do you agree with people all the time just to prevent conflict?

Are you worried about what people think about you?

Do you struggle with self-confidence?  

If you said yes to any of the above questions, then chances are that you are a people pleaser.  A people pleaser is someone who tries hard to make everyone happy, even at their own expense and displeasure.

“People pleasers want everyone around them to be happy”, according to Dr. Susan Newman.     

People pleasers often say 'YES', even when they wanted to say 'NO'. If the pleaser doesn't know when they need to say no, it can leave them feeling drained, put out and taken advantage of. Simply put, people pleasers try to be the nicest, most helpful people you know. 


Why Being A People Pleaser Can Be Toxic

Trying to be nice isn’t a bad thing, except when people pleasers take it to the extreme, which can lead to (with time) losing their sense of worth, self-respect, authenticity, and self-esteem, not to mention the constant internal conflict and the feeling of misery and unfulfillment. 

While it certainly is a good thing to want to help others and give them attention, time and assistance when you are able to, people pleasing becomes toxic when the pleaser doesn't also take care of themselves.

Being selfless is part of being a good person, and of course we should help when we are able to. Most people are people pleasers to a certain degree. This is because society (school, religious places, economy) all encourage us to be altruistic.

We were conditioned to constantly pursue external validations, acceptance, approvals and respect in a bid to 'FIT IN'.

While people's pleasing tendency is very small in most people, it can become problematic for those with high people pleasing tendencies. They literally start living their lives based on the fear of how or what other people may think or feel about them. And this is unhealthy.   

Having said that, keep in mind that being a people pleaser is not the same as being a 'nice person'.

In a way, being too much of a people pleaser is dishonest. When people:

  • cover up their own feelings
  • don't speak up in order to avoid confrontation and keep others happy
  • agree to plans they aren't actually interested in
  • act as though they are perfect and nothing is wrong

it's very confusing to everyone around them, because they don't realize anything is wrong. By failing to express their genuine needs or feelings in due time and with the requisite courage, they are getting even further away from asking for what they really want. 

The result is that people pleasers often detest the people they help. And since people pleasers are unable (or find it extremely difficult and discomforting) to say "NO" or express their genuine thoughts, they may pretend to be happy, but deep down, they are sad or angry. 

Read this next: Why Saying No is Good For You


Some Myths and Misconceptions People Pleasers Hold

Many people pleasers think to themselves:

  • "If I align and conform to other people's expectations of me, everyone will start liking me."
  • "If I'm kind to everyone, everyone will be kind to me."
  • "People-pleasing will get people to approve, respect, and accept me."

The answer to all these assumptions is false. In fact, when you start setting your own boundaries and actually saying what you really feel, it often happens that people will respect you more - although it may take some time for them to get used to it at first.

Learning to have boundaries is an important way to start finding balance between wanting to help and not putting yourself out so much that you start to suffer yourself. 


5 Ways to Overcome Being a People Pleaser 

1. Self-awareness

Knowing who you are, your thoughts, beliefs, fears, and motivations are key.

Being able to identify your tendencies and behaviors and accepting them is a very powerful tool. This gives you a clear sense of the ills of people pleasing, spurring you into taking the right actions. 

2. Make a conscious effort to say NO, when you want to say no

Find a better and more polite way to communicate your displeasure.

Saying no in a polite but affirmative way is a powerful tool to deploy.

3. Don't be in haste to give a reply when asked for a favor

Learn to say, "Let me get back to you".

This little delay helps you put things in perspective and come up with a better reply. According to a 2014 Columbia University Study, it takes just about 50 to 100 milliseconds to make a better decision. So the trick is to delay your reply. 

4. Practice self-love

Loving yourself is not selfish.

People pleasers often don't like themselves much, because they constantly ignore what they want or desire, hence are always in conflict with themselves.

Learn to genuinely love yourself, and this can happen when you accept, approve, and are always in sync with yourself. The best way to fight people pleasing tendencies is to do what makes you feel good and not the other way around. 

5. Be authentic towards your views

Voice your opinions without fears. You must practice how to communicate your genuine feelings and stand behind every situation.

Lying about your genuine feelings keeps your relationships very superficial. We can indeed agree with people in our life sometimes, but agreeing with them all the time and in all matters is problematic and more often than not, backfires.    

Always remember, if you value and love yourself enough, the world will follow suit. Teach the world how you want to be treated and make sure that whenever you're saying YES to others, you're not saying NO to yourself.       

Finally, realize that when you learn to say NO to less important requests, you have a chance to say YES to the more important ones.       

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash


5 comments on “Are You Struggling With Being a People Pleaser? 5 Ways to Help You Find Better Balance”

  1. I hate that I’ve been a people pleaser. I am so alone now and resentful towards the ones I’ve helped not even checking on me after a traumatic car accident But when I have tried to voice how I really feel I fall into a defensive pattern. I realize it is ridiculous that I have to defend myself. But they actually belief I’m naive and gullible. I know I am much more intelligent and have actually lived a rough life which I am proud of myself for finding ingenious ways to survive. I’ve started my own businesses only to self sabotage when it doesn’t “fit in” to society.
    I now spent my time away from people.

  2. I love this article because I fall into the category of a people pleaser to the point of I feel used up by people I live with . I have to work on saying no and when my boundaries are crossed say it and if argument pursues walk away ..or fight back and regain my own self respect back .

    1. This is such a difficult thing for people pleasers, isn't it? Helping others is innate in many of us, but we can also be easily taken advantage of. Setting your own boundaries is a healthy way to preserve your energy and mental health. It's also a way for pleasers to be direct in our own expectations of how we wish to be treated going forward. We wish you the best of luck on your journey! 🙂

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