Hello! Are you a people-pleaser? Do you…

  • Have a hard time saying no
  • Apologise, A LOT
  • Agree with others even when you have a different opinion
  • Avoid conflict at all cost
  • Cancel your plans for others
  • Only feel relaxed when everyone around you is happy

First of all, if you said yes to the majority of these, you must be a kind, caring and resourceful friend, partner or colleague.

You are probably a very empathic individual who knows how to attend to others’ needs, perhaps even before they even voice them. And it’s all great!

All these attributes are wonderful until they come at the cost of your wellbeing. If you prioritise other people’s needs over your own and try to be all things to others, you are definitely a people-pleaser! If so, you must be exhausted from spreading yourself too thin! 

How to break the pattern of people-pleasing!

If you are a people-pleaser, depending on other people’s wellbeing before your own is in your nature. However, there are a few small things you can do today to promote your wellbeing and begin to prioritise yourself. As a ‘recovering’ people-pleaser myself, I am sharing the tips that have helped me and will hopefully help you stop people-pleasing.

1.  Stick to your plans the way you would stick to other commitments – your time is as valuable as anyone else’s

Here’s a couple of scenarios that, I bet you will find familiar:

  • You were looking forward to a chilled evening with your loved one and a favourite TV show, but your colleague is asking you to stay late instead of them, so you do – you end up exhausted and grumpy for the rest of the night
  • You were looking forward to having a Sunday walk with your dog and listening to your audio-book, but your friend has asked to tag along, so you agree – your ‘social battery’ is now running low and now you feel unprepared for a busy week ahead.

Both scenarios have one thing in common – you dismiss your plans for others. While life is full of unexpected turns and your flexibility is important, here is the thing that is just as important – YOU.

Your plans, your wishes, your time – all that is precious and it’s time for you to recognise that. To start off, you can imagine that you are your friend – you wouldn’t cancel on your friend the way you cancel on yourself, right?

So here’s the challenge – next time you make plans that are important to you, stick to them! Imagine these are the plans to help a friend, or spend a day with a family member, so when something else is asking for your attention, you can then treat them accordingly. Remember, your time is as important as anyone else’s.

 2. Have a review of your relationships

As a people-pleaser, it is very important to you that everyone around you is happy and their needs are met. You want to meet everyone’s expectations by things like…

  • Being available to everyone at all times, 
  • Agreeing to do things you don’t like to make others happy
  • Listening to others when perhaps you feel like venting, too…

You have been wanting to keep everyone content so long, you may have not noticed that a lot of the loving behaviours you do for others are not even reciprocated in half. In this task, I invite you to explore that and think about your relationships. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are your expectations from others?
  • What do you think others expect from you?
  • How do these match up?
  • How do you want to be treated by others?
  • What are the things you are / are not willing to tolerate?

See what you find out about yourself and keep it in mind next time you interact with others… Chances are, you may see things a little bit differently this time! 

3. Create some affirmations that will keep you grounded

 You are on a journey of transforming your people-pleasing into harnessing your self-worth, who said it’s going to be easy?

Remember, if you are a people-pleaser, you have most likely been one your entire life, so it’s really important that you have anchors to remind you of your new-found truths.

Creating a set of affirmations or mantras is a helpful step in this process. Here are some examples:

  • I am not responsible for other people’s happiness
  • My time is valuable and I choose to spend it my way
  • If someone does not like anything about me, it is their job to communicate it directly
  • I have needs and it is OK if they are not convenient to others
  • I don’t have to predict anyone’s needs – if they need anything, they can ask
  • My worth does not depend on anyone’s view of me

4. Thank people instead of apologising

I am sure you will agree – us people-pleasers apologise a lot, like, A LOT. In fact, we apologise so much that it escalates to apologising for who we are as humans rather than just our behaviour…

Again, this may be coming from us thinking that other people are more important than us (when we are all equal and as important as each other).

So here’s a tip that will empower you as well as acknowledge the other person – thank them instead of apologising! Here are some examples:

  • So sorry about being late… → Thank you for being this patient
  • Sorry about changing my mind so much! → Thank you for your flexibility with this
  • I don’t know why I am crying, I am sorry! → Thank you for giving me the space to cry with you.
  • Sorry, I don’t know what it is with me lately, I am a mess, so sorry! → I have been struggling lately, thank you for sticking around.
  • So sorry for bothering you when I asked you for help! → I appreciate you going out of your way to help me with this, thank you. 

5. Create time and space to dig a little deeper…

People-pleasing is a life-long trait that is engrained very deeply, that is why it is difficult to change it. That is why it is so important to explore the origins of it.

People-pleasing in adulthood is often a result of experiences we had as children. If you are tired of depending on other people’s wellbeing before your own, you might need to create time and space to dig a little deeper. You can do this by having regular discussions with your friends or loved ones about it, journalling, meditation practice, counselling or therapy.

You got this!

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