10 practical tips for overcoming the need to please everyone

Do you find yourself consistently putting other people’s needs ahead of your own, even when it means saying yes to something you’d rather not do? Chances are, you’re a people pleaser!

It can be incredibly draining, leaving you feeling resentful and frustrated. On top of that, it’s hard to stand up for yourself and be your true self when it means potentially upsetting others or creating conflict.

However, it’s absolutely possible to break this cycle with some practical tips for overcoming people pleasing – and finally learn how to live with more authenticity. Here are some 10 practical tips for overcoming people-pleasing quickly:

1) Identify the underlying causes of people pleasing

Figuring out the reasons that lead you to be a people pleaser can be a key step in understanding why you feel the need to please others.

Are you trying to get approval? Are you scared of the possibility of being turned down? Is it perhaps to make up for any mistakes or shortcomings from the past?

By getting to the bottom of these motivations, you can gain more clarity and fix the fundamental problem. For example, for many years I was a people pleaser and both my parents and my teachers at school pointed this out to me… But deep down, I couldn’t change my attitude because it was so deeply rooted in my personality.

It wasn’t until I was able to develop rock-solid self-esteem that I overcame that people-pleasing behavior and started to feel good about myself. So, it might be a good idea to boost your self-confidence too.

Maybe your story is a little different from mine. However, the most common causes of becoming a people pleaser are the following:

  • Seeking validation or approval: People pleasing comes from a deeper need to feel part of a group and to have social recognition. But, it is a manipulative behavior because it is only used to get something out of others. It is better to develop self-love first, and then, get respect from others.
  • Avoiding rejection or conflict: People pleasers are used to avoiding rejection and conflict. They may fear that expressing their own needs or opinions will lead to tension with others. So if you are afraid of potential conflicts, you should look for the roots of the problem to understand that being rejected sometimes is a natural part of life and conflict is part of expressing yourself.
  • Seeking to make up for past mistakes or failures: In an effort to rectify past blunders or disappointments, some people may resort to people-pleasing, feeling that they must demonstrate their worthiness for love and acceptance. This can come from past emotional wounds. But being self-aware of where this emotional wound comes from can help you heal emotionally and lead you to develop a much more assertive personality.
  • Fear of abandonment: To avoid loneliness, some people resort to people pleasing. For them, expressing their own needs and desires may seem like a risky move, which could lead to a potential breakup of their relationships.

If you feel that you fall into any of these categories, be aware of how being a people pleaser is affecting you – and start to change these attitudes to express your feelings freely.

2) Set boundaries

It can be challenging to establish boundaries, particularly if you’re not used to them. However, it’s perfectly fine to have limits and communicate your boundaries firmly, rather than implying or relying on others to comprehend.

Some of the most important tips to set boundaries and stop being a people pleaser are:

  • Identify your needs and values: Take a moment to reflect on what is truly important to you and what you need to feel satisfied – and not on how to please others. This little shift will make all the difference in boosting your happiness and creating more genuine interactions with people.
  • Communicate your boundaries clearly: Once you’re aware of your limits, it’s crucial to express your boundaries effectively to the people around you. This could mean rejecting requests that are beyond your capacity or saying no when necessary.
  • Practice self-care: By establishing limits, you ensure that you look after yourself first and that your needs are fulfilled. This could mean saving some time for yourself when you feel the need.
  • Be consistent: Maintaining consistency in your new behavior is key. Letting someone invade those boundaries can make it difficult to reinforce them later.
  • Be open to negotiation: Whilst it’s essential to establish limits, it’s just as critical to be open to negotiation. Be prepared to be flexible – but make that your own needs are met.

By the way, to set boundaries, you don’t have to be rude. Just show you are assertive and put this new skill into practice. In the same way, your mind was programmed to be a people pleaser, you can also learn to express yourself openly.

3) Learn to say NO

It can be difficult for people-pleasers to utter the two-letter word ‘No’; they have an innate desire to please others and are afraid of denying anyone and potentially causing disappointment.

Nevertheless, saying no can be the key to overcoming people-pleasing tendencies, proving that you have the autonomy to make your own decisions.

Here are some tips for learning how to say no:

  • Be clear and direct: Don’t wait for someone to figure out what you mean. Be explicit about your feelings and requirements instead. Of course, you must explain why you are saying no. Oftentimes, just adding the word “because” is enough to give a good reason why you are refusing to do something.
  • Offer more alternatives: Keep a list of possible alternatives in case you can’t still say no to other people. For example, you can say that you’re not available at the moment, but maybe next week, you could spend a few hours helping that particular person.
  • Be prepared for backlash: Being ready to be rejected is part of the process. You may be anxious or uncomfortable, but it’s essential to keep in mind that rejection is necessary to develop your personality and look after your best interests. In any case, surrounding yourself with people who are only looking to take advantage of you won’t serve you well… And you’ll even feel worse about yourself!

4) Practice assertiveness

Expressing yourself clearly and respectfully while advocating for your needs and beliefs is what assertiveness is all about! It means confidently communicating your thoughts and feelings without resorting to aggression.

Rather than hoping your message will be understood, make sure you communicate clearly and directly – no beating around the bush! It’s essential to have the courage to share your thoughts and emotions openly,

Similarly, changing your body language and the way you express yourself will change your life completely. It will make you feel in control of your life and express your emotions in the right way. It will give you more confidence, and you will know how to stand up for your rights at all times.

Like any skill, it takes time to develop, but working on yourself should be your priority in any case.

Remember, it’s impossible to win the approval of everybody. You shouldn’t worry if some people don’t like you as that is simply inevitable. What’s essential is to love yourself and be true to who you are, not to bend to fit the expectations of others.

5) Seek support

Asking for help can be a daunting task, and sometimes we tend to prioritize the needs of others over our own, inadvertently ignoring our own welfare.

So, research and find professionals who specialize in helping people pleasers. A therapist or counselor can work with you to uncover the root of your people-pleasing – and give you the tools to break this habit.

Be sure to read reviews and verify credentials to ensure you are working with a qualified and trustworthy person. Once you’ve pinpointed an expert, be honest and communicate your emotions. Just look for someone with whom you feel at ease and whom you can trust. Finally, take action and do the work. Breaking out of the habit of people-pleasing can be hard. However, with the aid of a professional, you can start to form new habits that will help you control your people-pleasing habits.

Remember, you are worthy and it is okay to ask for help.

6) Learn from other people who have been people pleasers

Gaining knowledge from those who have gone through the same issues can be a beneficial way of understanding and finding ways to overcome people-pleasing behaviors.

  • Seek out personal stories: Many people have shared their stories of overcoming people-pleasing habits and their journeys to freedom. By reading these personal accounts, you can gain valuable insight and motivation to make your own transformation.
  • Join a support group: Engaging in a support group can be a fantastic way to bond with others who are actively trying to move away from people-pleasing habits. In a support group, you have the opportunity to express your own feelings and absorb the knowledge of others.
  • Seek out online resources: There are plenty of online resources available to provide information and support! From helpful blogs and discussion forums to online support groups.
  • Talk to friends and family: Talking to family and friends about your struggles with people-pleasing can be beneficial. It can give you insight and perspective from their personal experiences as well as provide you with strong support while you try to break the habit.

Never forget that each individual’s journey is unique, so what works for one person might not be suitable for someone else. It may require a little trial and error to find the tactics that work best for you, but with dedication and repetition, you can change your people-pleasing habits.

7) Build your self-esteem

Constantly seeking validation from others is a hallmark of people-pleasers, indicating a lack of self-esteem. As your confidence in yourself and your esteem continue to increase, so too will your trust in yourself.

So, there are a few things you can do to boost your confidence and stop being a people pleaser:

  • Embrace your strengths and weaknesses: Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and it’s critical to embrace yours. Put some work into improving your weaknesses and keep growing a solid personality.
  • Set goals: Setting goals can lead you to feel more confident and enhance your self-esteem. Remember to set reasonable goals and always celebrate your accomplishments.
  • Be grateful: Gratitude is a mindset that will help you see everything in a more positive light. Focus on the things you are grateful for and how these feelings make you appreciate them.
  • Practice affirmation: Affirmations are powerful statements that change your thoughts and beliefs. Find positive traits in your personality and tell yourself that “you are valuable and special” to start changing your mindset and recognize how valuable you are.

8) Practice self-care

Many people-pleasers are so fixated on trying to please others because they fear being labeled as selfish, even if it means sacrificing their own needs in the process. This isn’t the best equilibrium.

When you put your own well-being first, you’re strengthening your self-esteem and setting yourself free from people-pleasing habits.

So, prioritize your own well-being by carving out time for yourself, doing activities that bring you joy, and setting healthy boundaries with others. This way, you can break out of the vicious cycle of people-pleasing.

Recognize you don’t need external validation to feel worthy. You know that you deserve respect regardless of what others think… And this is something you can only achieve by devoting time to yourself and not dedicating your time and thoughts to others.

Obviously, it doesn’t mean that you become a selfish person, but you must value yourself first to be able to value the presence of others.

9) Manage your emotions

Take charge of your emotions and find healthy ways to manage your feelings. As people pleasing involves doing things you don’t really want to do, it is tiresome and affects your well-being and self-esteem.

Likewise, try to spend time reflecting on your own needs and the emotions you will get when you achieve your goals. It will surely feel different from being the slave of your fears and spending all your time helping others achieve their dreams.

Unfortunately, you will hurt others’ feelings. However, putting yourself in the last place will hurt you anyway.  That’s why it is essential to bear in mind that making mistakes is part of life, and feeling uneasy when trying to break out of old habits is normal.

10) Seek out healthy relationships

Healthy relationships can play a vital role in helping us to overcome people-pleasing behavior. When we are surrounded by supportive and understanding people, it encourages us to feel more self-assured in expressing our needs and making decisions that we truly believe in. If you’re looking for ways to find healthier relationships, here are a few tips:

  • Assess your current relationships: Decide which relationships aren’t meeting your needs or causing you distress. You may find it beneficial to distance yourself from the people who are only taking advantage of you. They’re not your friends, and you need to be with people that help you grow and face your people-pleasing behavior.
  • Build new relationships: Making new connections can be an awesome way to discover supportive and sympathetic people. It is better to surround yourself with a few people who love you for who you are than to have fake friends who only try to capitalize on your loyalty.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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