Free Yourself from Being a People Pleaser: Understanding the Definition, Signs, and Risks

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Free Yourself from Being a People Pleaser: Understanding the Definition, Signs, and Risks

There may be times when you find yourself saying “yes” while your heart is not present there. Sometimes, you may also go out of your way only to keep someone happy, although you are unsatisfied. If this is the case, you are a people pleaser.

While being a people pleaser can be exhausting and stressful; people do not realize it. Let us explore what pleasing people is, discuss its causes and signs, and learn the risks of this behavior.

Who is a People-Pleaser?

Sometimes, you might not realize it, but you may be a people pleaser. If you need help understanding what that means, keep reading!

People pleasing is when a person prioritizes the needs of others and desires over their own, often to the loss of their well-being.

At its core, pleasing people happens when an individual:

  • Looks for a way of seeking external validation and avoiding uncomfortable emotions.
  • They struggle with setting boundaries and saying no, even when it’s not in their best interest.
  • He finds himself taking on more than they can handle
  • They feel resentful or overwhelmed and struggle to communicate their needs and desires.

While pleasing people can initially seem like a positive trait, who doesn’t want to make others happy? – it can have negative consequences on both mental health and your relationships.

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Free Yourself From Being A People Pleaser: Understanding The Definition, Signs, And Risks

Causes and Triggers of Becoming a People-Pleaser

The most common causes and triggers of people-pleasing behavior are as follows:

Childhood Traumas: Childhood experiences may have rewarded a person for putting others’ needs first or punished them for expressing their desires, leading to people-pleasing behavior.

Low Self-Esteem: People with low self-esteem may feel that their own needs and desires are not as important as those of others, leading them to prioritize others’ needs over their own.

Fear of Rejection: People who struggle with people-pleasing behavior may fear rejection or disapproval from others, leading them to seek validation and approval through their actions constantly.

Social Pressure: Social pressure to conform to others’ expectations can also contribute to people-pleasing behavior. It is especially true when a power imbalance exists, such as in a workplace or a hierarchical social structure.

Signs of People Pleasing Behavior

People-pleasing behavior can be brutal to identify in oneself, especially if it’s a long-standing pattern that’s become automatic. Some of the common signs include:

Difficulty Saying No: Individuals often need help to decline requests or invitations, even when they lack the time, energy, or desire to fulfill them.

Consistent Apologizing: People pleasers often apologize excessively, even for things that are not their fault or responsibility.

Avoiding Conflict: People pleasers avoid conflict at all costs, often at the expense of their needs and desires.

Overextending Oneself: People pleasers may take on too much, trying to please everyone and meet every demand, even when it’s not possible or healthy.

Seeking External Validation: People pleasers often look to others for validation and approval rather than trusting their judgment and intuition.

Ignoring Personal Needs: People pleasers may ignore their needs and desires to meet others’ expectations and demands.

Feeling Anxious or Guilty: People pleasers may feel anxious or guilty when they can’t meet others’ expectations or prioritize their own needs over others.

Negative Impact of Becoming a People-Pleaser on Mental Health

While pleasing people can be well-intentioned, it can also negatively impact a person’s mental health and relationships. These consequences include:

Anxiety and Burnout

People pleasers often feel anxious and exhausted as they try to meet everyone’s expectations and avoid conflict. 

Low Self-Esteem

Constantly prioritizing others’ needs over their own can make people feel like their needs and desires are unnecessary. 


People pleasers may develop codependent relationships, feeling responsible for others’ well-being and sacrificing their needs.


Over time, people pleasers may resent others for taking advantage of their kindness or not recognizing their efforts.

Difficulty With Intimacy

People pleasers may struggle with intimacy and vulnerability in relationships, as they may be afraid to express their true feelings or assert their own needs.

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Free Yourself From Being A People Pleaser: Understanding The Definition, Signs, And Risks

Breaking Free from People Pleasing: Best Tips and Strategies

Many people find themselves in a people-pleasing pattern, but the good news is that breaking free from it is possible. Meanwhile, some helpful tips for overcoming people-pleasing behavior are:

Recognize Your Triggers

Pay attention to situations, people, or events that trigger your people-pleasing behavior. 

Practice Saying No

It would help if you started small by saying no to small requests and gradually worked to say no to bigger ones.

Prioritize Self-Care

To take care of yourself, always make time for activities that bring you joy, and prioritize rest.

Challenge Negative Self-Talk

People pleasers often have a negative inner voice that tells them they’re not good enough or need to do more for others. It would help if you challenged these thoughts by reminding yourself of your worth, value, and the importance of caring for yourself.

Set Boundaries

Setting clear boundaries is crucial for people pleasers. Communicate your needs and expectations clearly to others, and be firm in enforcing your boundaries.

How to Set Boundaries to Prioritize Your Own Needs

The best strategies to set out boundaries for your well-being are as follows:

  1. Know your limits: Understanding your limits is an essential part of setting boundaries. What are your values and priorities? What are your emotional and physical limits? Knowing these limits can help you establish boundaries that work for you.
  2. Communicate clearly: Communicating clearly and assertively is essential when setting boundaries for yourself. Be clear about what you’re willing and unwilling to do.
  3. Be firm: People pleasers often struggle with being firm in enforcing their boundaries. Remember that it’s okay to say no, even if others try to pressure you to do otherwise.
  4. Practice self-care: Setting boundaries also means prioritizing your own needs and well-being. Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, and prioritize rest and self-care.
  5. Seek support: Breaking free from people-pleasing behavior and learning to set boundaries can be challenging. It is helpful to seek support from a therapist or counselor who can help you develop strategies for setting and enforcing boundaries.

How to Boost Your Confidence and Self-Worth?

Having healthy self-esteem is essential for leading a happy and fulfilling life. Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself, which can significantly impact your relationships, work, and overall well-being. 

Thus, if you struggle with low self-esteem, there are many things you can do to boost your self-confidence and self-worth. For example:

  • Treat yourself with kindness and understanding, just like a close friend. 
  • When you make a mistake or experience a setback, try being gentle rather than criticizing or berating yourself.
  • Stop focusing on your weaknesses or shortcomings and instead focus on your strengths. 
  • Celebrate your accomplishments and take pride in your skills and talents.
  • Pay attention to the negative thoughts you have about yourself, and challenge them with positive, affirming statements.
  • Setting and achieving goals can be a great way to boost your confidence and self-worth.
  • Ensure you sleep well, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly.
  • Surround yourself with positive, supportive people to boost your self-esteem. Seek friends and loved ones who lift you and make you feel good about yourself.

Seeking Help to Overcome People Pleasing

Seeking professional help for overcoming people-pleasing behavior can be a very beneficial step. While recognizing and changing such behavior is challenging, you can develop strategies to break free from the cycle.

Follow the below-mentioned steps to find the best therapist for yourself:

  1. Ask for recommendations – Contact friends, family, or trusted healthcare providers for recommendations for therapists or counselors.
  2. Use online directories – Many online directories, such as Psychology Today or GoodTherapy, allow you to search for therapists or counselors in your area based on their specialties and areas of expertise.
  3. Check credentials – Ensure that the therapist or counselor you’re considering is licensed or certified in your state and has experience working with people who struggle with people-pleasing behavior.
  4. Schedule a consultation – Many therapists or counselors offer free consultations to determine whether they fit your needs and goals.

Frequently Asked Question

What is a people pleaser?

A people pleaser is someone who prioritizes the needs and desires of others over their own, often to the point of sacrificing their own well-being and happiness.

Why do people become people pleasers?

What are some signs that someone is a people pleaser?

What are the negative consequences of being a people pleaser?

Is it bad to want to make others happy?

How can someone overcome being a people pleaser?


Being a people pleaser might seem harmless to make others happy, but it can be a severe obstacle to your well-being. Remember, it’s not selfish to prioritize your needs and desires – in fact, it’s essential to your overall health and happiness. So if you’re ready to break free from pleasing people and start living on your terms, take the first step today.