How To Stop People Pleasing.. and Why You Do It!

Understanding People Pleasing Behaviour

What might the phrase ‘Be a good girl or boy,’ bring up for you? 

In our formative years, the urge to please, shapes numerous societal expectations that we adopt (usually without any malicious intent from those around us)

These tendencies can sit beneath the surface in curious ways in our adult relationships – both personally and professionally.

Embarking on the journey to understand people pleasing behaviour, is often the first step towards personal growth and improved self-esteem. 

“People Pleasing”  in this context; is a self-sacrificing pattern where individuals prioritise the happiness of others at the expense of their own needs. Driven by a longing for acceptance and a fear of rejection, “people pleasers” often find it challenging to say no – leading to an exhausting cycle of overcommitment.

Recognising this behaviour is pivotal as it enables us to reflect on our actions and motivations. By acknowledging these tendencies, we can take control, step toward authenticity, and pave the way for healthier relationships, fuelled by mutual respect and genuine self-expression.

An image of an innocent child unchained, to depict the impact of what happens when you stop people pleasing.

The Impact of People Pleasing on Mental Health

Being cast as the perennial giver (or the one who’s always generous) can feel validating for a time, however for those entrenched in the habit of people pleasing, such descriptors might actually conceal an underlying struggle.

This compulsion to ensure everyone’s happiness, often culminates in personal stress and depletion.

Understanding the impetus behind people-pleasing is crucial; for example, it might be that the need for accolade and fear of disapproval drives individuals to repeatedly put others before themselves.

By constantly seeking affirmation through pleasing others, a person may inadvertently neglect their mental wellness, leading to chronic fatigue and heightened anxiety. 

The journey to becoming self-empowered in our choices, and relinquishing people-pleasing habits, thus, becomes a critical step towards safeguarding one’s mental health and fostering a balanced life where self-care is given its rightful priority

Authenticity: The Antidote to People Pleasing

You might find that intentionally transitioning away from people-pleasing habits, invokes the raw power of authenticity — embracing your true self, in all your humanness.

It’s easier said than done, but as Lao Tzu beautifully said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” To be intentional in your alignment with your authentic self, take baby-steps and recognise the beauty in your imperfections and value your own opinions and needs as much as you do others’!

When you’re aligned with authenticity, you naturally attract relationships and opportunities that reflect your true values and provide meaningful satisfaction. This elevates your life beyond the fleeting and unsustainable pleasure found in others’ approval. Authentic living removes the strain of unnatural conformity and allows for a deeper connection with yourself and those around you, creating a symbiotic flow where your well-being is not sacrificed!

In essence, authenticity is not only an antidote to people-pleasing but also a conduit to a more fulfilling and self-honouring way of life.

Setting Boundaries for Healthier Relationships

Establishing boundaries is a crucial step towards maintaining healthier relationships and preserving your well-being.

It starts with self-reflection; understanding your own values, and recognising the reasons behind your inclination to people-please. Identifying situations where you’ve put others’ needs before your own can shed light on your “non-negotiables” — those aspects of your life you are not willing to compromise on. As you gain clarity, practice articulating your boundaries.

Give yourself permission to experiment with how you share your thoughts on your boundaries with others. People pleasing can be a pattern we may have carried in our relationships for many years. So be kind to yourself as you step into a new way of being for everyone’s healthier outcomes. 

Imagine yourself in conversation with the other. What do you want to say,? And how do you want to feel? What outcome do you want for your mutually healthy relationship?

Remember, we’re all imperfectly perfect human beings navigating this experience called life. Change in our behaviours can momentarily bring in unexpected dynamics into our relationships – how we are used to relating with each other can be disrupted. This can mean that we don’t quite know how to interact with the ‘other’, as the known pattern is no longer the same, and we have to develop new ways of relating together. This is totally normal as part of the individual and collective growth! Allow the process to unfold and trust that those who are meant to grow with you will value you and your boundaries.

Embracing this process is a powerful act of self-care that leads to authentic, mutually respectful connections.

Building Self-Confidence and Self-Worth

Self-confident individuals radiate a sense of accomplishment and self-honouring that’s palpable, sometimes almost tangible, to those around them. This inner strength comes from a deep knowing of one’s worth and capabilities

To cultivate a healthy sense of self-confidence and self-worth, start by acknowledging your right to make choices that serve your interests and align with your values. Your focus should be on setting intentional personal goals, and pursuing them with determination. 

Boundaries are essential — they reinforce your self-respect and signal to others how you expect to be treated. 

Starting small with achievable goals can build momentum. Giving yourself time and encouragement fosters patience and self-compassion. Each of these steps towards practicing self-care and asserting your needs, is a step towards valuing yourself and building that inner confidence that enables your unique essence to shines outwards!

And this is SO very important, because showing up as your fully expressed-self is a gift to our world!

6 Practical Steps to Stop People Pleasing

Acknowledging the need to shift from people-pleasing tendencies to authentic self-expression is a significant turning point.

  1. Begin by recognising and reminding yourself that you have a choice in every situation, instead of reflexively saying “yes” to avoid conflict or gain approval.
  2. Create reachable personal goals to guide you towards self-empowerment and understand that it’s okay to say “no” when a request doesn’t align with your priorities.
  3. Practice establishing clear boundaries in both personal and professional realms, which is pivotal for maintaining your well-being.
  4. Starting with yes’s to your empowered-self and upholding your boundaries can help you gradually get accustomed to discomfort, reinforcing that discomfort is a natural part of the shift and can be reframed as a positive sign of growth.
  5. Most importantly, allow yourself (and those around you) time to adjust to this new mindset. 
  6. Regular self-encouragement and affirmation can bolster your resolve as you step away from being a chronic people-pleaser to someone who values their inner alignment and happiness as much as others’.


In conclusion, tackling the urge to prioritise others’ desires over your own is a transformative journey. 

Learning to identify and positively shift your people-pleasing habits not only reshapes your interactions with others but also steers you towards a more balanced and authentic life. 

Acknowledge that it’s not about being selfish – it’s about being self-aware and considerate of your own needs. Ultimately when we sell out on our own needs, this festers over time and manifests in our relationships in ways where we don’t show up as our best selves – which doesn’t serve anyone. Remember, your decisions should honour you and bring joy, rather than stem from fear or obligation. This enables the sharing of our best selves with those we love. 

By creating new healthy habits, and intentionally applying the above strategies to overcome people-pleasing, you begin to rewire your brain for the better create boundaries that benefit you and the relationships you cherish.

Ultimately, your self-worth is non-negotiable, and saying “no” can sometimes be the most profound way of saying “yes” to yourself and the life you aspire to live.

May you have a magical workday, every day!

Article by

Vee Haslam

I Help You Connect to the Heart of the Matter During Times of Change to Obtain Peak Performance.

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