How To Stop Being A People Pleaser?

A man who appears to be people pleasing

If you often find yourself in situations where you don’t know how to say no to people or you constantly seek validation while struggling with feeling disliked, you probably fell into the trap of being a people pleaser. It might sound bad, but you’re definitely not alone and from my own experience I can tell you that there are ways for you to change that reality.  

My relationship with people pleasing 

I used to be a serial people pleaser, but over the years, I’ve done a lot of work on myself with the tools I’m now sharing in our 90-day training program to remove that trait from my life. That being said, it can still pop up from time to time in certain situations.

A few months ago I had an encounter with Simon Sinek, a well-known author and motivational speaker whom I’ve been following for several years. Simon is one of the Executive Producers of the Peaky Blinders show I’ve been touring with as a drummer and Musical Director. During one of our final shows on tour, he unexpectedly joined us on stage before the show. It caught me off guard. I thought to myself how amazing it would be to tell him about the work I do with On Being Men and make him a supporter, as it relates to his own work in many ways. Throughout the whole show, I couldn’t help but think about what I would say if I saw him again after the show.

And then, after the show, we met again, and… well… from my end, it was a car crash of people pleasing. The urge to get his approval or recognition made me act like an idiot and I was annoyed with myself afterwards. It showed me that although I don’t see myself as a people pleaser anymore it can still creep on me when I’m not ready and it served as a great reminder to stay true to myself no matter what, be clear with my intentions, and express myself authentically instead of seeking validation from others. 

What is a people pleaser? 

A people pleaser is someone who prioritises making others happy, which sounds great, but it often comes at the expense of their own time and resources. People pleasers act out of insecurity and low self-esteem, seeking validation and rehearsing their interactions. Their strong desire for acceptance and fear of rejection drive their behaviour.

If you want to stop being a people pleaser, it’s important to be able to recognise the signs:


      • Always agreeing with others, fearing disappointment.

      • Excessive apologising, even for things not their fault.

      • Difficulty saying no and setting boundaries.

      • Changing personality to match others’ expectations.

      • Seeking external validation for self-worth.

    What are the causes for people pleasing? 

    People pleasing can have various underlying causes such as:


        • Low self-esteem: Feeling unworthy and relying on pleasing others to gain a sense of value.

        • Past traumatic experiences: Childhood rejection or emotional abuse leading to a fear of further harm or rejection.

        • Cultural and social influences: Certain cultures or family dynamics that prioritise others’ needs over one’s own, shaping people-pleasing behaviours.

        • Personality traits: Being agreeable or conflict-avoidant, which make individuals more susceptible to people pleasing.

      Each person’s experience with people pleasing is unique, and the causes can vary from individual to individual. Exploring these causes and understanding personal triggers can help individuals develop ways to overcome people-pleasing tendencies.

      A people pleaser makes others happy at the expense of their own time and resources.

      The Impact of People Pleasing on Well-Being 

      Being a people pleaser can have negative effects on your well-being. Here are some of the ways it can impact you:


          • Exhaustion: Constantly putting others’ needs before your own can leave you physically and mentally drained.

          • Burnout and overwhelm: Trying to please everyone can lead to burnout and feeling overwhelmed by the never-ending demands.

          • Increased stress: The pressure to meet others’ expectations can cause stress-related illnesses and take a toll on your health.

          • Resentment: Feeling taken advantage of or unappreciated can build up resentment towards others.

        With the focus always on meeting others’ needs, it becomes difficult to relax and engage in activities that bring you happiness. This can lead to a sense of emptiness and dissatisfaction in your own life.

        A man being a people pleaser

        Steps to Overcome People Pleasing:

        Embarking on a journey to overcome people-pleasing habits requires effort and time. Here are practical steps that can help:

        Recognise the signs

        To begin addressing people-pleasing tendencies, it’s crucial to recognise the signs, such as having low self-esteem, constantly seeking approval, finding it difficult to say no, apologising excessively, and fearing conflict.

        Understand the underlying causes

        Take the time to reflect on potential underlying causes of people-pleasing behaviour, such as self-worth issues, past trauma, or a fear of rejection. Understanding these root causes can provide valuable insights for personal growth.

        Differentiate kindness from people-pleasing

        Learn to distinguish genuine kindness from the habit of constantly sacrificing your own needs and values for others. It’s important to find a balance between being kind and prioritising your own well-being.

        Prioritise self-care

        Recognise that taking care of yourself is essential for your overall well-being. Make self-care activities a regular part of your routine to ensure you have the necessary physical, emotional, and mental energy to navigate your relationships and commitments.

        Learn to set boundaries

        Developing healthy boundaries is crucial in breaking free from people-pleasing tendencies. Consider your own needs, feelings, and limitations before agreeing to something, and communicate your boundaries effectively to others.

        Practice assertiveness

        Work on expressing your opinions, preferences, and feelings openly and honestly. Practice saying no when necessary and learn to assert your boundaries confidently. Increasing your assertiveness will help you regain control over your own choices and priorities.

        Wait for explicit requests

        Instead of offering help unsolicited, wait until someone explicitly asks for assistance. Respecting others’ autonomy and boundaries allows them to assert their own needs and desires without feeling obligated by your people-pleasing tendencies.

        Seek therapy or coaching

        Consider reaching out to a therapist or coach who can provide guidance and support. They can help you explore underlying causes, develop healthier behaviours, and provide tools to navigate through your people-pleasing journey.

        Embrace discomfort and conflict

        Recognise that discomfort and conflict are natural aspects of life and relationships. Practice being okay with feeling uncomfortable and learn to address conflicts constructively instead of avoiding them. Embracing these challenges will foster personal growth and healthier interactions.

        Build self-esteem

        Focus on your strengths and celebrate your accomplishments. Practice self-compassion and nurture a strong sense of self-worth. Building your self-esteem will empower you to prioritise your own needs and make choices that align with your values.

        Taking the next step to stop being a people pleaser 

        If taking on these steps alone feels overwhelming or confusing, I invite you to join our 90-day training program “The Man You Want To Be”. In this training, you will learn and practise tangible tools and techniques that will help you eliminate people-pleasing traits from your life.

        By participating in the training, you will not only learn how to stop being a people pleaser and how to say no to others with confidence when needed, but you will also gain a deeper understanding of yourself, your values, and your purpose. You will be able to clearly define the kind of man you want to become and acquire the necessary tools to make it happen.

        If this resonates with you, click here to find out more about the training.

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