Strategies to Stop Being a People Pleaser: Breaking the People-Pleasing Habit

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Woman dressed up as a clown. Image by Victoria_Watercolor from Pixabay

Are you tired of always trying to please others? Do you find it next to impossible to say no? Do you want to take back control of your life and start putting yourself first? Learn how to control the urge to be a people pleaser and start prioritizing your own needs.

People pleasing can be an unintentional habit that can lead to unhealthy relationships, low self-esteem, and even depression. It is essential to establish a realistic boundary between pleasing yourself and pleasing others in order to experience balance and joy in life. We will explore how to begin to break free from the cycle of people-pleasing and achieve a more fulfilling life. In particular, we will cover topics such as the importance of understanding your own needs, setting healthy boundaries, and learning how to say ‘no.’ Through this guide, we hope to empower readers to make choices that align with their individual values and to develop healthier, more meaningful relationships with themselves and others.

How to Recognize if You’re a People Pleaser

Do you often feel like everyone else’s needs come before your own? If so, you could be a people pleaser. People pleasers tend to put other people’s needs and wants ahead of their own. They are often the ones who try to make everyone happy and go out of their way to please others. It’s important to recognize these habits and become aware of them so that you can work on breaking them. Signs that you’re a people pleaser include:

  • Saying yes even when you don’t want to.
  • Being uncomfortable when someone is unhappy with you.
  • Worrying a lot about how others view you.
  • Feeling the need to do more than you should for other people.

It’s normal to want to make those around us happy, but when we start to prioritize their needs over our own, we can end up feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.

The Consequences of Being a People Pleaser

Being a people pleaser can have a number of detrimental consequences, both mentally and physically. One of the most obvious consequences is a lack of identity. People-pleasing can be used as a coping mechanism to avoid rejection, judgment, abandonment, or feeling less-than-perfect. As a result, people-pleasers may feel they have no identity of their own and tend to take on the identity of others in order to be liked and accepted. This can lead to an inability to make decisions and a feeling of being overwhelmed. People-pleasers may become overbooked, have a high workload, or have a long to-do list due to trying to please everyone. Additionally, this can lead to feelings of anger and frustration due to being taken for granted or not having any control over their lives.

Understand Your Need to Please

It’s essential to understand why you feel the need to please. 

  • Do you feel the urge to be liked by everyone in order to feel secure? 
  • Do you think that pleasing others will lead to more love and acceptance? 
  • Do you believe that if you don’t please others, they won’t like you? 

Understanding why you feel the need to please is the first step in overcoming it. Once you understand the root cause of your people-pleasing behavior, you can start to make changes.

Pros Vs. Cons


  1. People pleasers often try to maintain harmony and peace in their relationships.
  2. They are usually empathetic and understanding of others’ needs.
  3. They often make great friends, colleagues, and partners because they strive to please those around them.
  4. People pleasers typically enjoy helping out and making others happy.
  5. Being able to make compromises is an essential skill that people pleasers usually excel at.
  6. They can often remain calm and positive in challenging situations. 
  7. People pleasers are often good problem solvers and negotiators. 
  8. They can be diplomatic in their interactions with others, avoiding conflict whenever possible. 
  9. People pleasers are typically trusted by their colleagues due to their loyalty and willingness to help out when needed. 


  1. People pleasers can quickly become overworked due to their willingness to please everyone around them. 
  2. They may have difficulty saying no when asked for favors which can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed or taken advantage of. 
  3. People pleasers may struggle with setting boundaries as they want everyone to be happy with them, even if it means sacrificing their own needs or wants in the process. 
  4. They can find it hard to express negative emotions.
  5. They may focus too much on other people’s needs at the expense of their own emotional well-being or career goals. 
  6. People pleasers may feel taken advantage of or resentful if they give too much without feeling appreciated in return. 
  7. They may find it difficult to draw clear boundaries between themselves and others; this can lead to them becoming overwhelmed with responsibility or feeling overlooked for positions that need accountability.

Consequences of Your Behaviour on Your Relationships

People-pleasing behavior is a habit that can have both beneficial and detrimental effects on relationships. The primary benefit of engaging in people-pleasing behavior is that it can create positive relationships and help to build trust among people. 

However, the downside is that it can ultimately lead to a loss of respect. People who employ people-pleasing behavior may come across as overly agreeable or eager to please, making it difficult for others to take them seriously. This lack of respect can lead to people not taking them as seriously or viewing them as equals in conversations and relationships. 

Furthermore, people who engage in people-pleasing behavior may find that others may take advantage of them, leading to a feeling of being taken for granted or undervalued. Ultimately, people-pleasing behavior can result in a loss of respect or a sense of being undervalued in a relationship. 

We must keep in mind that relations should be mutually agreeable and respectable for long-term success and satisfaction for both parties.

Reclaim Your Power By Saying No

One of the most powerful ways to claim back your power as a people pleaser is to start saying no. Saying no doesn’t have to be rude or confrontational. It can be done in a kind and understanding way. Start by recognizing when you are feeling uncomfortable or pressured to do something that you don’t want to do. Once you are aware of your feelings, take a moment to examine the situation and consider how saying no might affect it. If you feel that saying no is an appropriate response, then be confident in your decision and stick to it. Remember, your opinion matters, and it’s important to respect your own boundaries and needs.

The Benefits of Setting Boundaries

Setting boundaries is essential for taking back control and reclaiming your power. It’s also beneficial for protecting your emotional and mental well-being. When you set boundaries, you’re saying no to people-pleasing and yes to yourself. Establishing boundaries doesn’t mean that you have to be unkind or that you don’t care about others.

On the contrary, it’s an act of kindness towards yourself that enables you to be kinder to others. When you set boundaries, you are giving yourself permission to be who you are without feeling guilty or obligated to please others. This allows you to take care of yourself first and respect your own needs and values.

Set Boundaries and Stick To Them

Once you have identified your boundaries, it is essential to stick to them. This may mean having difficult conversations and sometimes rejecting requests that do not align with your boundaries. It is important to remember that having borders does not equate to being selfish or unkind. You are simply taking control and protecting yourself from the potential harm that could be caused by violating those boundaries. Setting and sticking to boundaries will build your self-confidence and enable you to live a more authentic life.

Start With Kindness and Understanding

It is crucial to start with kindness and understanding when learning how to stop being a people pleaser. It can be tempting to judge yourself harshly or think badly of yourself for falling into the trap of people-pleasing behavior. However, it’s essential to understand that many people-pleasers are simply trying to cope with difficult emotions or situations. 

It is essential to provide support but also to recognize when to draw boundaries and take care of yourself. By being kind and understanding towards yourself, you can start to break the cycle of people-pleasing and reclaim your power.

Allow Yourself to Be You

Once you are aware of why you are people-pleasing, it is time to start allowing yourself to be you. To do this, start small. Instead of jumping into a situation where you feel like you should be someone else, take a moment to validate yourself. This means recognizing that you are enough and that you don’t need to do anything extra to please anyone else. When presented with a circumstance in which your true self is not being expressed, take the time to identify areas in which you have failed to meet your own expectations in order to avoid letting down those around you.

Detach other people’s opinions of you and tell them that you need to think about it and get back to them. Expand your definition of “I have plans” and recognize that doing too much can hurt relationships rather than helping them.

Relationship Imbalances

Doing too much for others can have a detrimental effect on relationships in the long run. By continually giving without expecting anything in return, people can start to feel taken advantage of, leading to resentment and damaged trust. 

Furthermore, consistently putting other people’s needs first can lead to an imbalance in the relationship and cause individuals to ignore their own needs. In order to maintain healthy and meaningful relationships, it is required to recognize when to give and when to take. 

Increase Your Awareness

It is essential to be aware of your own needs and feelings as well as those of others. Taking the time to recognize when you’re feeling overwhelmed or taken advantage of can help you in making better decisions about how to respond in different situations. 

Being mindful of how you’re feeling and what other people are asking of you can help you recognize when it’s time to set boundaries and say no. Increasing your awareness can help you identify the moments that require a boundary or a firm no and take back control over your own life.

Prioritize Yourself and Your Needs

Once you understand your need to please, it’s time to prioritize yourself and your needs. Doing this can be difficult, but it is crucial to take the necessary steps to make sure your own needs are met first. Start by saying no more often when asked for favors or commitments. Validate your own feelings and make sure that you are comfortable with the decisions you make. 

Take some time for yourself to relax and recharge. Be sure you are taking care of yourself by getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating healthy food. Eventually, set boundaries and stick to them. If a person crosses them, don’t be afraid to speak up and let them know that their behavior is not acceptable. Doing this will help you take control of your life and stop being a people pleaser.

Stop Apologizing for Everything

People-pleasers may say “sorry” too much to try to please everyone. We can lose ourselves in trying to do the impossible: pleasing everyone. It’s important to recognize when you’re apologizing for no reason and start to stop this habit. Instead of apologizing for everything, start to become assertive and express your feelings and opinions clearly. Speak up for yourself, and don’t be afraid to disagree with others. You don’t have to be sorry for having your own opinion. Instead of apologizing for every little thing, use that energy to focus on taking care of yourself and making sure your values are met.

Be Assertive

Being assertive is a key part of learning how to stop being a people pleaser. Assertiveness is a style of healthy communication that involves expressing your thoughts and feelings in an honest, direct, and respectful way while also maintaining mutual respect for others. It is essential to learn how to speak your truth without aggression or passive aggression. Practicing assertive communication can help you set boundaries and protect yourself from people who might take advantage of you. It is necessary to be clear about your needs and desires and to be firm in your decisions. This can help you learn to value your own opinions and feelings, as well as those of other people.

Recognize Your Unhealthy Habits

Once you’ve identified your unhealthy people-pleasing habits, it’s time to start making changes. It’s crucial to recognize that change takes time and that it won’t happen overnight. You may need to practice being assertive and saying no more often before it becomes second nature. 

Besides, try to be aware of when you’re engaging in people-pleasing behavior and look for ways to break that pattern. For instance, if you find yourself saying yes to things out of obligation, ask yourself if you really want to do it or if it would be better for you to say no.

Building Self-Confidence and Self-Trust

Building self-confidence and self-trust are vital in stopping people-pleasing behavior. People who are driven by self-doubt and insecurity are most probable to seek approval from others, which can be a sign of low self-esteem. To overcome this, it’s essential to recognize your own worth and value and to develop a sense of self-trust. This means that you must learn to trust in your own decisions and feelings instead of relying on the approval of others. To do this:

  1. Start by increasing your awareness of your thoughts and feelings.
  2. Ask yourself if they are truly valid and true, and don’t be afraid to challenge them.
  3. Reaffirm your self-worth and put yourself first by treating yourself with kindness, respect, and understanding.
  4. Make sure you set boundaries and stick to them, as this will help you build up your confidence and trust in yourself.

Affirmations to Help Stop People Pleasing Behaviour

Affirmations are powerful in helping people stop engaging in people-pleasing behaviors. By repeating positive statements, such as “I am enough” or “I do not need to seek validation from others to be worthy,” individuals can begin to break their patterns of relying on the approval of others and start to build a strong sense of self-worth. 

It can be difficult to undo years of seeking approval from others, but with consistent practice, affirmations can help individuals to recognize their true value and reduce the urge to please others in order to receive validation. It is necessary to keep in mind that affirmations should not be used as a tool to deny the feelings of others but rather as a way to improve your own self-worth.

Please try the below affirmations daily as this can help to change your mindset slowly:

  1. I will no longer put the needs of others before my own.
  2. I will allow myself to make decisions that are best for me.
  3. I will speak up when I am being taken advantage of.
  4. I will not feel guilty for saying “no” when it is necessary.
  5. I will set boundaries and stick to them.
  6. It is OK to say no without feeling guilty.
  7. My worth is not defined by how much I help others.
  8. My needs and wants are important and deserve to be taken into consideration.
  9. My opinion and decisions are valuable and should be respected.
  10. I am good enough, and I deserve to be taken care of.
  11. It is OK to say no without feeling guilty.
  12. My worth is not defined by how much I help others.
  13. My needs and wants are important and deserve to be taken into consideration.
  14. My opinion and decisions are valuable and should be respected.
  15. I have my own needs, and I deserve to be taken care of.
  16. I will not compromise my values or feelings to please others.
  17. I will prioritize my own needs before those of others.
  18. I will have confidence in myself to make decisions that are best for me.
  19. I will stop worrying about what others think of me.
  20. I will trust my own judgment and not feel obligated to please everyone.


In conclusion, it is possible to stop being a people-pleaser and reclaim your power. Recognizing your need to please, setting boundaries, understanding your values, and being assertive are all critical steps to achieving this. With practice and self-compassion, you can start to prioritize yourself and your needs, allowing you to be your authentic self. As you learn to trust yourself and build self-confidence, you will be able to live with total integrity and find the true happiness that comes with it.

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