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How to Stop People Pleasing

Updated: Sep 5, 2019

It's time to put yourself first and stop trying to please everyone else.

Despite what some may think, people pleasing is not a super power nor is it a gift.  Even though it might feel good while doing it, it’s not sustainable for our long term health and happiness. Why? People pleasing can cause burnout, low self confidence (as we believe others matter more than us), caving into guilt or social pressure (saying yes when we want to say no), increased stress and anxiety, and a decrease in our ability to make decisions.


It can be tricky to break the people pleasing cycle as we have been conditioned throughout our lives to enjoy the reward of pleasing others.  To be able to stop or let go of people pleasing we  first need to understand our motivation for pleasing others.  This will require us to look to our past to identify where and why our people pleasing habit was created.

Can you recall a time your parents, teachers or friends gave you a reward for doing something well? The reward could be praise, acceptance, love, gifts, etc.

If the answer is yes, ask yourself, do you still take actions to please others? If so, what are the rewards you are seeking? Maybe it’s approval or acceptance, or perhaps it’s to feel liked.

But my question to you is why are you looking to others first instead of yourself?
What is it costing you over the long term by always putting people first?

Are you ready to put yourself first and stop being a people pleaser?

Here are my tips as a life coach to break the habit.

Ask yourself what you want first. Include yourself and your desires in every decision.

Ask yourself what your motivation is pleasing others.  Is it fear of not being accepted? Is it a need for approval? Validate and accept yourself first, we can’t control what others think or do as a result of our choices.

Check the credibility. If you’re people pleasing, make sure it’s someone that matters to you. For example, if you meet a new person who is rude to you, instead of trying to win them over, let it go. Don’t use your energy to increase their happiness, use it for your own.

Set boundaries. Say yes to what makes you happy and fills you with joy.  Say no to the things that cause additional stress and anxiety.

Practice not people pleasing until it becomes a habit. In the beginning it may seem difficult because your natural trained response is people pleasing and going against that is foreign and uncomfortable. We can’t conquer people pleasing unless we acknowledge and confront it.  Practice the above steps until it becomes a new habit.

The more you love your decisions, the less you need someone else to love them.

Jenn DeWall, Denver Leadership Development Speaker, Millennial Career & Life Coach

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