Problems with Being a People Pleaser

And Three Tips to Circumvent It

I’m guilty of being a people pleaser.  I spend a lot of time trying to please others.  Disappointing others was almost a crime in my books when I was younger.

It’s a term used to refer to those with a strong urge to ensure satisfaction of people around them.  This might mean going out of their way to make sure people are happy with your performance.  For example, this might mean being agreeable to errands that one might not have time for.  Or it might mean when confronted with an upset classmate, colleague, professor, or client, we go to extreme lengths to make sure they like us.  For myself, I find it hard to say no.  For example, if my boss asked me to run errands that mean putting in extra hours or dedicating a weekend to a project at the cost of my mental health, in the past I was very prone to saying yes.  Sometimes, I would agree to do things when I knew it wasn’t in my capacity.  I somehow always believed I would figure it out.

This is different from acts of kindness, generosity, and selflessness.  It’s about not setting good boundaries for yourself and, in turn, either burning ourselves out trying to meet others’ expectations or not being able to meet those expectations in the end anyway.

While most people want to feel loved and valued in close relationships, constantly striving to ensure others’ happiness can be detrimental to our mental and physical health.  It means that we’re giving money, time, or energy to a cause.  When it’s not a cause that we value but one that others value, our motives are not aligned.  Saying yes to multiple extra projects at work or saying yes to caring for family members that don’t appreciate or value what we do takes a toll on the person.

But how do we change this natural and seemingly harmless lifestyle?

Say No to Lack of Boundaries:

Boundaries are essential to healthy connections.  It’s a sign of respecting ourselves and others.  When we voice our opinions to loved ones, family, friends, colleagues, and other relationships in our lives, it helps protect our own mental health.  When boundaries are broken, it means part of our own values are compromised.  Whenever a boundary is broken, make sure that it is clearly communicated.  For example, if it’s a boss that is asking you to shoulder extra projects say “To be frank I am having a difficult time with the existing projects.  Would we be able to adjust some deadlines?” People don’t realize that, often, pushbacks help people around us realize that a boundary is crossed.  Most healthy relationships will also support you in finishing the task at hand.

Reflect on What is Important to Us:

Taking the time to reflect on what causes we want to give our time and energy to is important.  This means that we can focus on goals first before saying yes to others.  It means that most of the hours of the day is spent working on ourselves.

Practice Saying No:

For every “yes” we freely give out to others, we’re saying no to ourselves.  Others around us will adapt to our “no”s and, over time, we will become better at saying no many times a day.  Practicing saying “no” to others will allow us to be more comfortable saying it in the future.