Confessions of a Recovering People Pleaser

As a child I was always the teacher’s pet, I remember giving myself migraines in first grade because my teacher was never happy and yelled at the kids in my class, in Kindergarten my teachers would move the “bad kids” to my table because they knew I would never let them get me in trouble. We had colored strips we had to pull if we were bad the top color was green, then there was yellow and if you pulled the red color strip you were sent to the principal’s office, and in an entire year of school I pulled a colored strip once, and I remember feeling so ashamed and crying about it.

Unfortunately, I never grew out of the fear of letting people down. Still to this day, I will put other’s even complete strangers before my own desires. I’ll say yes without thinking and often times have a hard time expressing my own needs or desires to be happy. So what are some traits of a people pleaser you may ask? Could this be you?

You have a hard time saying no to people
You’re quick to say yes
You use white lies to deal with the fact that you over-committed to things
Sorry is a common word in your vocabulary
You find it hard to accept help or compliments
Rescuing people – at work, in relationships – gives you a sense of purpose and validation, but often leaves you feeling burnt out and exhausted
You have a hard time communicating what you truly want or need to be fully happy

Now that you know what goes into being a people pleaser in no way is this a life-threatening illness nor is it a bad thing. But I’ve learned that putting the happiness of others before your own can weigh you down and ultimately keep you from achieving your own goals. So here are a few tips on how to recover from being a people pleaser.
Change always starts from within, when you reflect and focus on the respect of yourself you can start to understand others and in turn respect them.

Set limits

When you’re constantly saying yes to everything you can often time spread yourself too thin, not only does that then perpetuate the white lies needed to get out of things but it also hurts your self-esteem. Instead of always biting off more than you can chew set limits for yourself. I also think keeping a well-updated diary or calendar on your phone is a great way to keep all your obligations straight.

Say No

Learning to say no is something that can be terrifying for a people pleaser but can also be one of the most liberating tips here. When you say no to events or tasks you deep down don’t want to do it can feel so good. So instead of saying yes because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings just say no. This is something I have the hardest time with. I never want to feel like I’m letting someone down. Or there’s the fear of not being invited again if you say no. But if it’s something that you don’t really have time for or aren’t feeling just say no.

Be Selfish

Similarly to the tip above when you’re a recovering people pleaser you need to be selfish. Now I’m not saying you have to do this all the time, nor am I saying you should be mean about it. But if you aren’t feeling up to going to something simply don’t. If you have something you’d rather be doing do that. You don’t have to cater to other people’s needs all the time.

Be Authentic

When you put others first you can often times lose your own personality. But everyone is different and you should be true to yourself and your values, you may not be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s totally ok. You don’t need those people in your life.

Realize that avoiding problems doesn’t promote growth

If you’re constantly giving excuses as to why you have to get out of obligations it’s going to make you less trustworthy. Also, running away from your problems never leads to growth, and you will always run away in the future and will never become stronger.

Be Confident In Yourself

Be unapologetically you, sometimes you won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and instead of trying to force yourself on other become self-aware and reflect and focus on respecting who you are and in turn, you will attract others who also respect and value you.


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