7 Ways to Overcome the People-Pleasing Habit

To belong or not to belong?

That is the question we often face in our day-to-day. 


Being an introvert, my first interaction with people outside my tight circle usually begins with them assuming that I am shy and quiet. 

This impression of me probably stems from my tendency to observe and compile a profile of any new person first. Which I then use to gauge how to act around and interact with each of them.

You could say it’s somewhat of a defense mechanism—a way to avoid confrontation, or perhaps the discomfort that comes with the disapproval of others. 


A people pleaser is a person who has difficulty saying no when they need to and continually seeks outside validation. In that, everything that they do is in the hope that others will like them. 

Also, people pleasers base their self-confidence and sense of security on the validation they receive from others; either is boosted when one receives approval and dwindles when one doesn’t get it.

Their constant need for outside validation and the inability to say “No,” in the long run may expose them to serious health risks, such as anxiety and even depression. 

Is being a People Pleaser a Good Thing?


How to Overcome the People-Pleasing Habit

  • Set Boundaries

Our need to care for and please others often arises from our fear of failure or rejection, as Sherry Pagoto, Ph.D., puts it. When we don’t do either or refuse an opportunity to act so, we tend to harbor feelings of guilt that our actions are selfish.

However, we have to remind ourselves that we each have a limit to the things we can handle, physically or emotionally.

Therefore, it’s essential to communicate your boundaries when declining a request. This keeps you from bottling up negative feelings towards others, which often arises when one feels unable to voice their frustrations.

Otherwise, when it becomes too much to contain, you will blow up.


  • Take Care of Yourself

A people pleaser prioritizes pleasing others over taking care of their own needs. Over time, this may cause one to feel exhausted, drained, and overwhelmed. 

The recent years have been riddled with a spate of published articles that boldly brand millennials— born in the 1980s to 1996/ 2000—as the most selfish generation, compared to the earlier ones. These articles state that a majority of us are “entitled,” narcissistic, and self-involved individuals.

Is this because we are maximizing the platforms we have and are speaking out about the challenges we face while advocating for self-love?

And how does giving priority to one’s well-being—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual— make one selfish?

Don’t we offer ourselves and those around us more value when operating at our optimal level?


  • Become Self-aware

To find out who you are, what you like, and what you need, you have to look at yourself with respect and interest. 

Analyze your thoughts and feelings while keeping judgmental thoughts and denial about yourself at bay as you encounter your truths. 

Use this discovery to identify when to say no, and do it confidently. This doesn’t make you selfish or entitled.


  • Understand that you have a choice

Saying yes to every request at the expense of your own needs doesn’t make you praiseworthy. It’s okay to say no, too. 

Stall, if you have to think about something, you need to know what you will have to give up before accepting a task.

If your response is “No,” be empathetically assertive. In that, you acknowledge the situation or feelings of the other person but still stand up for your rights.

It shows the person you understand where they are coming from but cannot meet their request.


  • Let go of People who take advantage of You

A people pleaser is often surrounded by people who use them as they can always be depended upon to say yes to any request that comes their way.

To prevent this, you have to create healthy boundaries in your relationships and reaffirm them. 

Also, make peace with the fact that not everyone will like you, and that’s okay. 

Don’t allow the opinion of others about you, affect your self-esteem—especially if they are skewed.


  • Prepare for the Fallout

The fear of rejection can cause one to believe that saying no to others will be catastrophic, but the opposite is true. We typically move on to ask someone else for help when another denies our request.

Always ask yourself: “Are the people you want to sacrifice your time on worth it?”

The truth is: People rarely think about us as much as we tend to think they do. 


  • Be authentic

Connect with your authentic self. Identify your values and priorities, and purpose to remain steadfast to what you hold dear. These act as a guide to help you live a healthier life and find balance in each aspect of your life.


Every new encounter, you have to remind yourself to be true to who you are. Remind yourself that it’s okay to say “No” when you need to.

It frees you from the self-imposed yoke of anxiety over needing to please everyone.

And with conscious effort, your self-esteem becomes less dependent on the perception of others. 

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