7 Ways to Cure Your People-Pleasing Tendencies

Katy Morin

I used to be very self-conscious around people I didn’t know and could not stop thinking about what they thought of me. I wanted everybody to like me so I was afraid to show my true personality, but even then I felt like some people didn’t like me. I would always agree with the majority and say yes to people even when I wanted to say no.

Are you a people-pleaser? Do you try to help everyone at the expense of your own needs? Do you try to make others happy as a means of avoiding confrontation? Do you feel guilty when you put yourself first? If so, you’re a people pleaser.

Trying to make others happy at your own expense is a poor way to spend your time and energy. If you’re looking out for everyone else, who has your best interests at heart? You might think you’re trying to be nice, but that’s not the full story.

People-pleasers feel a need to make others happy, but the motive isn’t entirely altruistic. People-pleasers are attempting to avoid confrontation. They feel important by helping others. When they do something nice for another person, they feel good about themselves. Meanwhile, their own lives are unraveling. That use to be me.

They also lose the respect of others. When you don’t respect your time or your needs, no one else will either. You’re training people to treat you badly.

Avoid pleasing others and please yourself for a change:

1. Realize that’s it’s not important that everyone like you. It’s not even possible. There are people that you’ll never like. Everyone has their own set of preferences. Understand that some people won’t like you no matter what you do. It just doesn’t matter.

· Understanding this simple fact can be incredibly liberating.

2. Get your validation from yourself. Those that try to please everyone are receiving their validation externally. You don’t need others to make you feel good. Build up what makes you feel good. Put your attention on pleasing yourself.

3. All you must do is say “no.” With practice, it becomes easier to say no to others and yourself. When you’re asked to do something that you don’t have time to do, say “no.” When you put pressure on yourself to make others happy, say “no” to yourself. It can be that simple.

· When you say “no,” you’re saying “yes” to something else. What are you saying “yes” to? Suppose you don’t want to go out with your coworkers after work. By declining to attend, you’re saying “yes” to spending time with your family or catching up on your sleep, or something else. Know what you’re doing for yourself.

4. Deal with the aftermath. What are the negative consequences you’ll face when you begin to refuse inconvenient or unreasonable requests? From others, you can expect some general negativity. When others are used to controlling you, they won’t give up that control easily. Just stand your ground.

· You can also expect a negative reaction from yourself, mainly guilt. You’ll get over it quickly. Hang in there.

5. Be prepared to lose a few people. There are a few people that may have been pretending to be your friend. Once you stop being so accommodating, they’ll move on. You’re better off without them.

· People will begin to have a new level of respect for you, and you’ll attract a new group of friends that bring more to your life.

6. Drop the apologies. You don’t have to apologize because your priorities don’t match up with someone else’s. You have the right to prioritize your time as you see fit. Avoid apologizing if you don’t have anything to apologize for.

7. People-pleasing creates anxiety. You’re more likely to feel anxiety and guilt when you’re a people-pleaser. You end up doing too much and you’re too concerned about the opinions of others. When you try to do too much and be too much, you’re going to be stressed.

The gains from attempting to please everyone will never outweigh the costs. Learn to get validation from yourself. You don’t have to please others to feel good about yourself. Give your own needs your attention. You deserve as much as anyone else.

If you want more tips about assertiveness, download my free guide: Assertiveness Training 101

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