Growing up, I discovered that people pleasing was the way to get people to like me.
I remember wanting to please my parents, so I was well-behaved, did my school work and said “yes” when I was asked to do something. I often received compliments from other parents saying, “What a sweet girl you are.” My mother would say she was proud of me.
People-pleasing was so ingrained in me from childhood that I wasn’t being true to myself. I had a hard time saying, “No” to requests, and even gave away a new outfit to my friend who said how much she liked it. I was a people-pleaser. I hated confrontations or hurting people’s feelings. This continued through adulthood and transferred into my relationships with men. I understand that men also suffer from people pleasing due to a “fear of rejection, insecurities, or the need to be well-liked.
What does it mean to be a people-pleaser?
Being a people-pleaser generally describes a person who consistently strives to please others, often sacrificing their own wants or needs in the process. The most common signs are:
10 Signs You’re a People Pleaser
1. You Cannot Say “No”
You have a hard time saying no because you want to be accepted and liked by everyone. You think the best way to do that is by being overly agreeable.
2. You Feel Anxious About Others’ Opinions of You
This also stems from insecurity—you have fears about people perceiving you in a way you may not like, so you conform your behaviors to fit into a box even if you are not being true to yourself.
3. You Never Have “You” Time
You don’t schedule any kind of alone time or dedicated time for yourself so that you can always be available for others. Even if you do have time alone if you’re asked for something during that time you make yourself available immediately.
4. You Feel Guilty Setting Boundaries
You feel as though others need you more than you need yourself, and you don’t set boundaries because you want to be helpful. You feel bad saying no to others, maybe because you have felt shamed for setting boundaries in the past.
5. You Apologize for Things You Don’t Need To
You feel as though you are responsible for other people’s feelings and reactions to everything, so you own things you don’t need to and make things your concern that doesn’t have anything to do with you.
6. You Need Constant Approval
You have a history of needing to get approval, so you people-please because of the validation you feel in the short term.
7. You Generally Don’t Share Your Feelings With Others
You are reluctant to share any feelings because you feel as though they don’t matter and other people’s issues are more pertinent.
8. You Have Low Self-Esteem
You have a history of anxiety, depression, trauma, or any kind of emotional or mental health concern that has led to low self-esteem or low self-worth. You look for external validation to fill the holes inside you that require internal work and validation.
9. You Always Agree in Order to Be Liked
You often say “yes” to be accepted and succumb to peer pressure. You feel like this will make people like and accept you.
10. You Fear Being Labeled “Selfish”
You are scared of being called selfish because that would mean that you’re putting your needs ahead of the needs of others.
What I’m working on to heal my people-pleasing tendencies
Today, I’m struggling with #4 (setting healthy boundaries.) I’m finding it easier to set healthy boundaries with men who are pushy and don’t show respect. The difficulty comes when I want to be honest, but at the same time, I don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings. Healthy boundaries are essential to women to protect ourselves, especially when dating or traveling solo. My next trip is to Croatia with a small group of 20 people. I don’t for see any problems as we have a guide escorting us, and I’ll be able to focus on meeting other like-minded travelers.
What do we mean by healthy boundaries?
Healthy boundaries are the limits we place around our time, our emotions, our body, and our mental health to avoid being controlled, manipulated or drained by others. We want to stay true to who we are and protect ourselves.
Are you a people pleaser? Have you mastered the art of setting boundaries? Please share your comments below.