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How To Stop Being a People Pleaser

Updated: Sep 18, 2019

Recycling bins
People pleaser

Do you find yourself saying ‘yes’ almost as a knee-jerk reaction rather than stopping to consider what you really want? Do you feel more significant if you are contributing to someone else’s life rather than your own? Do you need to be needed at the expense of your self? Giving to other people can be healthy but it really depends on the motives behind it and the extent to which you ignore your own needs. If you are longing to be liked and accepted no matter the cost, it might be that you have formed a belief that you will only be loved if you put other people first.

If you think you are a people-pleaser, here are six ways to nurture a healthier habit:

Internal Validation

Most people pleasers are desperate for validation and appreciation. They want to feel needed, so they become over-the-top helpful and say “yes” to everyone. This makes their confidence purely based on on external forces. The approval of others and not internal forces. You need to start to rely on internal validation, not external.

The best way to fight people pleasing is to build up what makes you feel good. If you feel good, you don’t need others to make you feel good. Do activities that make you feel happy. Hang around people who make you feel good about yourself without having to do anything for them.

Start with a Small No.

It’s hard to go cold turkey on pleasing people so start with small no’s. For example, if you really don’t want to go to a party, but you feel guilty, say you’ll go but you will be a little late. You don’t have to stay the whole night. Or, if someone wants to go our for dinner, suggest a shorter coffee date instead. Start with small no’s to practice for the bigger ones.

Give Yourself Time

It is extremely hard to say no to someone else’s personal request; it’s even harder when you are a people pleaser. Make a rule that if someone asks you for something, your default answer is, “Let me get back to you.” You can say that you have to check your schedule, your to-do list or your spouse. Do whatever you need to do to buy yourself some time, then you will have some space to think about it and respond on e-mail or text with a polite “no”. This is so much easier than doing it in person and gives you time to make the right choice. Remember: the right answer, “Let me get back to you” is always best.

Know Your Goals

It’s much easier to say no to other people’s lives when you know what you are saying yes to in your life. Once a week, sit down and re-evaluate your long-term goals and short-term goals for the week. When you have this clear in your head, it’s much easier to say no to a request because you are committed to your goals right now.

Move Away From Toxic People

Does someone come to mind when you ask yourself if anyone in your life might be bad for you? You might have a toxic person in your life who is constantly asking you for things that you are sucked into. Do you know someone who always undermines your confidence. Or someone who never seems to give you validation or approval no matter how hard you try. It is important to move away from these kinds of people as they will undermine your efforts to get to a healthier place within yourself.

Stop Apologising

When you say no, say it with meaning. Don’t apologise because you have to prioritise. Don’t feel bad that you have something to take care of. You are standing up for you; and remember, if you don’t stand up for you, no one else will. Remember that saying no to someone else is saying yes to you!


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