It’s fair to say that being kind to others is a valuable trait many admire. But going too far to please others while ignoring your own needs can be a sign it’s time to advocate for yourself, set boundaries, and be true to yourself.
These are common challenges people-pleasers experience in an attempt to feel worthy and accepted by others. Often this eagerness to please is a symptom of a deeper issue – usually a combination of trauma and low self-esteem. While it’s a hard habit to break, it isn’t impossible. If you’re struggling to provide space to take care of yourself, you’re in the right place. This article will discuss tips and tricks to teach you how to stop being a people pleaser.
What Is a ‘People Pleaser’?
A people pleaser is someone who goes above and beyond to make everyone around them feel good. They are quite receptive to others’ and are often perceived as caring, empathetic, and compassionate.
But these same traits lead people-pleasers down a spiral of sacrificing and neglecting their emotional wellbeing.
12 Signs You’re a People Pleaser
Those who tend to people-please share several characteristics. Here a few common signs to help you determine whether you might be a people-pleaser yourself.
- Apologizing often
- Feeling guilty saying no
- Struggling to create and maintain boundaries
- Rarely having time for yourself
- Seeking constant approval
- Low self-esteem
- Avoiding disagreeing with others
- Avoiding confrontation and conflict
- Feeling responsible for others’ feelings
- Seeking praise to feel good about yourself
- Acting like those around you
- Struggling to admit when your feelings are hurt
How to Stop Being a People Pleaser: 10 Tips
1. Learn to say no
Yes, this is a difficult habit to practice. But the first step to gaining more autonomy over your life is learning to say a valuable word, no. To ease the overwhelm, start by evaluating how saying no makes you feel.
Also, where does your fear of saying no come from? And there any childhood memories that may explain your fear? After you have a better idea, say no towards less intimidating situations and build up until you feel better about saying this word. And remember, “no” is always a complete sentence.
2. Establish boundaries
A part of people-pleasing is pushing yourself well past your limits to make everyone else happy. But this only brings more harm to yourself. Instead, establish clear boundaries that protect what you’re willing to take on. Moreover, be specific, consistent, and stay true to what you need. If someone is trying to take advantage, let them know that it infringes on your self-care.
Another helpful tip to begin establishing boundaries is to plan ahead and turn your phone on only within a specified time frame that is beneficial to you. It is a small step that allows you to control when and how you are available.
3. Stop apologizing for prioritizing your needs
Often, people pleasers apologize for every little thing without knowing it. When you apologize to others without any real reason, you lessen your value and signal to others that your needs don’t matter as much.
But there is no need to apologize for prioritizing yourself and your needs above others. You deserve every right to take care of yourself.
4. No more explanations
Like apologizing, people pleasers have a habit of offering explanations, blaming other obligations or making excuses to explain why they can’t do something.
While it is helpful in some cases, you don’t always need to back up your decisions with facts and figures to make your case. You may feel guilty for saying no and enforcing your boundaries. But offering explanations and excuses are just ways that keep you from valuing yourself and taking a stand for things that matter to you.
5. Spend time alone
You may think spending time alone will lead to boredom, anxiety, or isolation. But being alone is the only true way to understand who you are, what you want, and what makes you happy.
It is also liberating when you learn to be comfortable being alone that you free yourself from the fears, thoughts, and opinions of others. When you’re alone, you have ample time to please you and only you without expectations or fears of pleasing others. So, take yourself on a date, schedule a weekend trip, or even watch a movie alone and observe how you feel.
6. Identify your triggers
Childhood trauma plays a huge part in developing our coping mechanisms, responding to stressful situations, and caring for ourselves. As such, take a moment to reflect on the triggers and situations where you observe yourself not speaking up, diminishing your feelings, and saying yes to feel accepted. When you do so, knowing your triggers will help you take back agency over your life and empower you to prioritize your emotional wellbeing.
7. Take a stand
When was the last time you let yourself express an opinion? As a matter of fact, you have a set of opinions, beliefs and values. Even when you’re around others, and you find yourself agreeing left and right, your inner voice may say otherwise. Reflect on what matters to you and let the fire out.
You can practice this tip by disagreeing with a friend, voicing your opinion, and evaluating how taking a stand makes you feel. Chances are it may create some discomfort, but you might even be surprised at how liberated you feel and how closer you are to practicing how to stop being a people pleaser.
8. Evaluate your circle
When you begin expressing your opinions, you may find others don’t appreciate what you have to say. If this is the case, evaluate whether these relationships matter to you. You might have been people pleasing for so long that you stayed in relationships well past their due date.
The people you want in your corner are those who encourage you to express yourself, even if that means a disagreement in opinions.
9. Take time to make decisions
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and concerned you may say the wrong thing, especially when a pressing matter requires your attention. But if you make hasty decisions that don’t match your priorities or needs, those feelings of regret, anger, and resentment towards yourself will be harder to ignore.
Instead, stall as much time as you need to decide. By giving yourself more time, you increase your chances of saying no and sticking to it.
10. Seek help
It can feel overwhelming to start looking within and redesigning your priorities to fit your needs, especially if people-pleasing is an ingrained habit. Thankfully, you don’t need to begin this journey alone.
Speaking with a therapist regularly about the trauma resurfacing and emotions saying no causes you will help you feel better about changing this habit. A therapist can also help you build the mental strength you need to begin living a life for yourself and not for others.
Additionally, even reading this article is a sign that you are well on your way to practicing how to stop being a people pleaser. You got this!
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