The People Pleaser’s Guide

Are you a people pleaser? If you can identify with these three traits, you’re probably preoccupied with pleasing others.

Trait 1: You cannot say NO. 

People pleasers tend to avoid saying no at all costs. 

Here’s a scenario: Ann had an incredibly long day at work. For the past 8 hours, She’s been imaging going home, having a hot cup of tea, and relaxing with her pup. As soon as Ann gets off work, her sister calls and asks for her to babysit. Without giving it a second thought, Ann pushes her need for rest to the side and agrees to spend her night caring for whiny, precious babies.

Ann can say no to her sister, and so can you. I know it’s hard, but it’s possible. What keeps people pleasers stuck is putting the needs of others above their own. Does Ann sound familiar? Keep reading.

Trait 2: You don’t know what you want, and if you do, you’d never ask for it.

People pleasers have a hard time identifying what they want. This is usually because they are overwhelmed with the expectations of others.

If you have a hard time expressing or even knowing what you want, you might be a people pleaser. 

Trait 3: You’re super uncomfortable with the idea of someone not liking you.

The key word here is “super”. It’s expected to be uncomfortable with someone not liking you. As humans, we want to accepted. That’s fine. It becomes a problem when the fears not being liked cause you to pretend to be someone else.

If you find yourself worrying about if people like you before you even ask yourself how you feel about them, that’s a PPP (people pleasing problem). 

OK – so you’ve determined you’re a people pleaser. Here are some tips for you!

Tip 1: Take some time to figure out what you want. 

One of the most difficult and confusing aspects of being a people pleaser is not knowing what you want. The key is getting away from the noise and figuring out what you want. In most instances, the noise is the thoughts and opinions of others. 

Homework: The next time you have a decision to make, before running to your friends, family, or therapist about what you should do, take a day or two to write about it. Be still and listen. List out all your options or make a pros and cons list. After you develop your own perspective, ask for input from others. After listening to them, take what you like and leave the rest! The choice is yours. 

Tip 2: Set and express your boundaries.

Boundaries are incredibly difficult for people pleasers. If you’re a people pleaser, it’s likely you haven’t spent much time enforcing your boundaries, if you’ve thought about them at all. 

Master self-respect by setting healthy boundaries.

Once you establish these boundaries, stick to them faithfully. When you are clear about your boundaries, it becomes easier to see who and what works for you. 

Warning: If setting boundaries is new, it’s normal to feel guilty for abiding by them. As you continue to practice, it becomes easier. 

Homework: Work out your boundary muscle by saying no today. Here are some simple and subtle ways to say no:

  • I have other plans.
  • Maybe next time!
  • No thanks. 

Tip 3: Surround yourself with supportive friends and family. 

The key to finding your own voice and breaking free of your people pleasing ways is getting around people who love you no matter what. When your circle values you for you, agreeing about everything becomes less important.

Suffering from a PPP? Try the homework from Tip 1 and Tip 2, and tell me how it goes!