People pleasing is the desire to make other people like you. That’s why you put yourself second, because you think people will like you better if you put them first.
People pleasing is a habit grounded in fear of rejection, of disappointing others and keeps you stuck in the exhausting cycle of trying to silence your inner critic of not feeling good enough to be loved.
We people please for many reasons.
It could be a response to fear associated with a past trauma. Maybe you’ve experienced abuse and you learned it was safer to do what other people wanted and take care of their needs first. By people- pleasing, you made yourself likable, and therefore safe.
Or it could be self-esteem issues. Maybe when you were younger you learned that your value comes from what you do for others. This will probably play on repeat throughout your life unless you work to undo the message.
Or it could be fear of rejection. If your parent offered you approval and love based largely on your behavior, you probably realized pretty quickly it was best to keep them happy. To avoid rejection in the form of criticism and punishment when you did something wrong, you learned to always do what they wanted, maybe before they even asked it of you.
Wherever it comes from, people-pleasing is damaging to you, others, and your relationships. It plays out with many negative consequences including:
- You feel frustrated and resentful.
- People take advantage of you.
- Your relationships don’t satisfy you.
- You experience increased stress and burnout.
- Partners and friends become frustrated with you.
Here are 6 signs you’re a people pleaser:
- 1. You’re terrified of disappointing people.
You might worry that telling someone “no” or turning down a request for help will make them think you don’t care about them. Agreeing to do what they want might seem like a safer option, even if you don’t actually have the time or inclination to help.
- 2. You feel like everything is your fault.
Are you always ready with a “sorry!” when something goes wrong? People pleasing involves readiness to take on blame, even when what happened has nothing to do with you.
- 3. Your sense of worth comes from being needed.
People pleasers often deal with low self-esteem and draw their self-worth from the approval of others. You spend a lot of time worrying about rejection. You may think, “I am only worthy of love if I give everything to someone else.” You may believe people only care about you when you’re useful and need their praise and appreciation in order to feel good about yourself.
- 4. You have trouble asking for help.
You don’t want to impose or interrupt anyone else. They may think you’re not capable if you ask for help. You think it’s best to figure it out on your own
- 5. You hate conflict and will avoid it all costs.
You’re quick to agree, even when you don’t really agree. Agreeability often seems like a surefire way to win approval. You’re really setting yourself (and others) up for future frustration. The flaws you could have brought to light early on will eventually surface.
- 6. You take care of everybody else and do a lousy job of taking care of yourself.
Try to pinpoint the last time you did something just for yourself. Do you have many moments like that? If you can’t think of many (or any) instances, you could have some people-pleasing tendencies.
3 Secrets to ending the habit of people-pleasing.
- 1. Learn to set boundaries.
Next time someone asks for help or you tempted to intervene, consider:
- How you feel about the action. Is it something you want to do or are you dreading it.
- Whether you have time to see to your own needs first. Will you have to sacrifice limited free time or skip out on some necessary self-care?
- How helping will make you feel. Will it make you feel happy or resentful?
- 2. Wait until you’re asked to help.
No matter what the problem is, you’re always ready with a solution. You jump in with fixing everything anytime someone mentions a problem. Next time, challenge yourself to wait until someone explicitly asks for help.
- 3. The secret to ending this pattern is learning how to be okay with other people not liking you. When you truly like yourself, you’ll no longer struggle with people pleasing.
As long as YOU like yourself, nothing else matters.
Break the habit of people pleasing by learning to love yourself FIRST, even if that means making some people upset or even making them NOT like you.