How To Stop People Pleasing And Make Yourself A Priority Today
Are you a serial people pleaser who wants to know how to stop people pleasing? I first came across the term people pleasing through an Instagram post a few years back. It implied that people pleasing is covert manipulation. This didn’t sit well with me, so I began on a journey to understand why and how people-pleasing starts and how to heal from it.
As a recovering people pleaser, I feel it’s important to move from a place of self-compassion and self-understanding to heal. People pleasing is a behavior we learn in childhood to survive our environment and make sure we get the love and safety we need from our caregivers.
As a child, you may have learned that when you were good, you were loved. But when you were bad, you were criticized and shamed. The result? You became a good girl as a child, which you subconsciously carried into adulthood.
You speak right, walk right and behave right. You are not a troublemaker. You color within the lines and only say what you believe is appropriate. You hide the wilder parts of yourself that you think won’t be accepted. You choose by watching how certain people react to your words and behavior. If you say something that causes someone to respond in a way that makes you feel rejected, you quickly fix your behavior to ensure you’re accepted.
People-pleasing is a call to look at your inner child and understand her pain and needs. It is a call to love and offer yourself compassion even as you are healing.
6 Signs you are a serial people pleaser
When interacting with others, you may feel the need to appear perfect. You probably learned how to read people very well in childhood, and it is easy to fit into whatever box you think you need to. If speaking your mind will rock the boat, you may prefer not to speak up.
2. Being seen and not heard
You may subconsciously believe you have little to offer and sell yourself short by not speaking up in work environments, which may lead to a slow climb up the corporate ladder. You may do an excellent job and hope it speaks for itself, but you will rarely bring attention to yourself.
3. Hiding parts of you
You may hide the parts of you that you believe are not beautiful. On the occasions you do decide to open up and allow yourself to be seen, and there is some form of actual or imagined rejection, you may quickly retreat back into your shell.
4. Overstaying in relationships
Sometimes you may stay longer in a relationship that is not working because you don’t want to look like the “bad” person for leaving, or you feel guilt. Over time, this will cause you to feel drained and stagnant because you are living out of alignment with your soul.
5. Being an over giver
People pleasers are givers. You will give your time, money, energy, love, emotions, and ideas. You want the people around you to be happy and comfortable. Unfortunately, you may believe that all this giving will be reciprocated, but this is often not the case which will eventually lead to feeling unappreciated.
6. Inability to ask for help
Are you always available to assist others? Yet, you’re not good at asking for help because you don’t want to be a burden. Even if you’re struggling, you will put your feelings aside and tend to someone else’s problems, because you care so much. You may also view asking for help as a sign of weakness or fear being let down.
How to stop people pleasing
1. Ask yourself, “do I like this person?”
Most people pleasers want people to like them. You may frequently wonder, “Does this person like me?” But this puts you in a situation of waiting to be chosen and validated.
It is wildly empowering to first ask yourself, “Do I like this person?” This is a position of power because you protect your energy, and you allow only people who are good for you into your space. It is also very satisfying to stop, relax and allow a situation to naturally unfold. Breathe and let the conversation flow as it flows. Just allow it to happen as it will.
This also gives you the confidence that you are good enough just as you are and stops you from “performing” for others.
2. Give only what you have to spare
If you want to stop people pleasing, learn to fill your own cup before interacting with others. Be mindful of how much you have within you to give. If you do not have enough time, money, or energy, it is okay to say no. Create boundaries on your giving.
3. Learn to say “no”
This is a big one. You may be terrified of saying no to people. You may be riddled with fearful thoughts like, what will they think of me? Will they think I was mean? Will they not like me anymore?
It is okay to say no. Most takers will resist this because they have greatly benefited from your over-giving, but stay strong. At first, you may feel a need to explain yourself, and this is okay. As you continue practicing and getting more comfortable with saying no, it will become much easier to say it without needing an explanation.
4. Tune into how you feel
People pleasers are often gifted in reading people. You learned from a young age how people react to various situations, and you adapted by learning to anticipate their moods, energies, and needs.
You can turn this gift into a superpower and stop people pleasing by tuning into how you feel before, during, and after interacting with someone. This will let you know who you genuinely enjoy being around and who you do not vibe with.
5. Be okay with being alone
Most times, you know who is good for you and who isn’t. However, you may be scared of letting go of the relationships out of alignment. You may not want to be alone. You may want the comfort and reassurance of people around you, even if they hurt you. And because of this, you sometimes hold on longer than you should.
Allow yourself to be more graceful in relationships. Let relationships teach you what they are meant to teach, and let go when it is time to say goodbye.
6. Know that you are enough
Allow people to see the real you, even the parts you feel are unlovable. Start by loving these parts yourself. Make peace with all of you, then open up and let people really see you. That is the only way you will be seen.
It can be hard at first. But you are human, and all human beings have strengths and weaknesses. Embrace both. We are not perfect. Let go of the need to be perfect. Allow yourself to show up as you are and know that your authentic, flawed self is enough.
Allow yourself to be unapologetically you. Speak your mind, dare to be imperfect, admit when you are wrong, ask for help, express your needs, admit when you don’t know something, and understand that all of us are imperfect, and that’s okay.
Embrace vulnerability. This is the only way you will find your people; by allowing people to see the real you, all of you.
7. Forgive yourself and others
If you want to stop people pleasing, it’s essential to first forgive yourself for all the people pleasing you have done in the past. This is a coping mechanism that you developed to survive. Now that you are aware of it, you can begin to heal.
Forgive yourself. You are a kindhearted giver, and you should applaud yourself for that. Forgive others who may have taken advantage of you or those who have not reciprocated your kindness. Forgive them. Allow yourself to feel the hurt and then choose forgiveness.
8. Strive to be kind rather than nice
Being nice is about treating others well and being seen as good. Kindness is about knowing you are a good person and not needing to prove that to others. It is about honoring yourself and treating yourself with the same love and care you extend to others.
9. Don’t take it personally when people don’t like you
You may want everyone to like you because it will validate that you are good enough. But not everyone will like you, and that’s okay. It is not a reflection of who you are as a person. Sometimes people don’t click, and that is okay. And when someone doesn’t like you, do not make it your mission to prove to them that you are likable. It is an invitation to sit with the discomfort and remind yourself that your worth is not determined by external forces but by how you feel about yourself.
You have a big beautiful heart, but know that you can learn to share your heart in a way that empowers, nourishes, and protects you while still serving humanity.