Is People Pleasing Keeping You From Pleasing The Right People?

pulling_hair_outThere’s absolutely nothing wrong with pleasing people, including ourselves.  If we’re willing to make sacrifices for the sake of another, who are we to say that’s wrong?  But the fact is, people pleasing isn’t about pleasing others, but fending off our fear of rejection.  Those of us who would consider themselves people pleasers are generally individuals who feel the need to be accepted by the world around them.  And not just a general acceptance, but that of each person they come in contact with.  And to maintain this madness, we seek to please with abandon.

Let me just start by saying that I’m one of the biggest people pleasers out there.  Show me a possible moment of displeasure and I’ll jump in and fill the need as fast as I can in hopes of both harmony among those involved as well as positive feelings toward little old me.  I’m not a saint by any stretch, I just have the disease to please.

In the long run, we’re pleasing nobody.

One of the great misconceptions among people pleasers is this idea that we’re ‘good people’ who are just trying to make everybody happy.  As I stated before, it’s not so much our great concern for another human being, but our obsession with the way others may perceive us.  As a result, we tend to say yes to everything and rarely stick up for ourselves.  Even if someone blatantly wrongs us, we are usually the ones who absorb the hurt and then stand in the corner, fuming to ourselves.  It’s not a pretty site.

The fact is, when we try to please everybody, we end up pleasing nobody.  Tired from the burnout that comes from the over extension of ourselves and frustrated by the fact that we keep letting others take advantage of us, we quickly become ineffective in helping others and often times end up resenting everyone around us. Then, when we finally run into a situation where our help is truly needed, we are too depleted to help out.  Also, our ability to decipher a real need from that of someone trying to take advantage of our people pleasing nature, is quite skewed.  In our minds, every ‘need’ is a requirement for us to act and in time, this wears us down to worthlessness.

Huh?

To some, this may sound a little off beat.  Maybe you’re wondering, “What’s your point and where are you going with this?”  The fact is, if you are a people pleaser, you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.  If not, then this won’t make much sense and might not even be worth your time.  Today I’m speaking to the people pleasers in hopes that I can help some of you break free from this awful addiction and start living your life more effectively and with a freedom you never thought possible.

A Brief History

I’ve always been the easy going type.  Easy to get along with and an all around positive person.  In many conversations I’d be the first to encourage others or just be plain agreeable.  If someone was down, I was there to help pick them up.  I just couldn’t stand to see others in any sort of pain.

I figured I was a pretty darn good person.  Compared to many around me, I stood out as the peace maker.  But soon it became apparent that much of my good nature stemmed from the fact that I couldn’t stand to not be pleasing to others.  My sensor for acceptance was way out of wack as I perceived a neutral stance as negativity toward me.  Though I genuinely wanted to see others happy, I had to come to terms with the fact that much of this desire was selfish in nature.

As I grew into the real world and began my computer consulting business, I quickly realized the devastating effects that people pleasing had when carried beyond adolescence.  I could barely handle the slightest bit of negativity from a client and often times became their doormat, as I’d let them walk all over me.  In the name of neutrality, I would do most anything.  I was a slave to my fear and the need to be liked.

As the years went by, I began to realize my need to break free from this bad habit.  Not only was I unable to grow a healthy business as a practicing people pleaser, but by letting myself get beat up by the world around me, I would come home each day in a state of despair.  Liz and I would talk and it would quickly become apparent that I had once again fallen prey to my people pleasing mentality.  She would encourage me to stop saying yes to everything and start standing up for myself.  I would then feel rejuvenated and ready to break free from my personal bondage.  Yet, within days and sometimes even hours, it became quite apparent that nothing had changed.

Finding a fear that is greater than that of rejection.

When breaking any kind of habit or addiction, it is imperative to find the source of the problem and then counteract it with its opposite and hopefully stronger sibling. For me, the fear of rejection was the source of my addiction.  But recently I’ve come to fear a much greater element of life; failure.  OK, let’s step back for a second.  When I say fear of failure, I’m speaking of the healthy kind of fear.  We could even rephrase the word fear with ‘healthy respect’.  My fear of rejection was the kind of fear that kept me up at night, while my new found respect for failure is the kind that motivates the heck out of me.  There’s a BIG difference here.

I’m not saying that I am no longer a people pleaser.  Far from it!  Just like an alcoholic is always an alcoholic, recovering as they may be, I’m am just a recovering people pleaser.  I still struggle with my fear of rejection and often find myself seeking to please others for the sake of feeding my need to be liked, but as my fear/respect for failure grows in strength, my focus is less likely to allow capture from this awful addiction.

What does failure have to do with people pleasing?

So I now fear failure.  Why?  Well, much of my frustration in life has been the result of this disease.  I’ll go against every instinct in my body to please another human being and then pull my hair out in dismay when the result is the complete opposite of forward progress.  It’s one thing to fail because you made a mistake, but when you miss out on opportunity because you were too busy trying to make things right with the world, you find a frustration that is not easily matched.  Once this healthy respect for forward progress made its way into my mind, I started seeing the hold that people pleasing had on me, weaken and wither.

Losing Your Flavor

As individuals, we all have our own personal flavor.  Some are sweet, some salty and others plain bitter.  But as a people pleaser, because of our skill of going with the flow at all costs, we lose our flavor all together.  We try to blend with every personality we come in contact with and as a result our own personality fades.  What makes you, YOU, is your own blend of Yes’s and No’s.  It’s our beliefs and values and preferences that give us our spice.  Lose this and you lose yourself in the process.  Before long, you end up forgetting what you’re all about.  This can be a scary realization and one that should be harnessed to help push us out of our people pleasing ways.

Losing Proper Perception

Another thing we lose when blending in with the world around us is our ability to properly perceive a healthy need from a selfish desire.  Just like children, adults need to be told no from time to time.  If everyone got their way 100% of the time we’d be one messed up society (at least more messed up than we already are).  So it’s our job as an individual to stand up for what we believe is right.  If someone needs assistance and we can accurately determine the need to be sincere, it is our job to address that need if at all possible.  Not necessarily to say yes every time (just because YOU are asked for help doesn’t mean that YOU are the one to help out), but to remain open to the assistance of others.  But if someone selfishly requests our attention, it is equally imperative that we say no.  The more we let others walk all over us, the less clarity we will have as we try and assess the needs around us.  And there’s nothing worse than not being able to address a real need because our time is being consumed by our inability to say no to the squeaky wheels that surround us.

Signs of a People Pleaser

  • Someone who says yes, even when their mind says no.
  • Someone who is devastated when they think someone doesn’t like them.
  • Someone who would rather feel personal pain than displease another.
  • Someone who cringes at the first sign of friction.
  • Someone who is willing to fail in the name of pleasing another.
  • Someone who has lost their own sense of unique personality and belief.
  • Someone who is not willing to speak up for themselves.
  • Someone who loses sleep over the slightest altercation with another.
  • Someone who feels out of control when they think another human being may disagree with what they’re doing.
  • Someone who starts to see their desire to please others as a separate part of themselves.  Separate from the rest of who they are as an individual.

Tips to break free from the shackles of people pleasing.

  1. Find a greater fear: As I stated earlier, the best way to overcome people pleasing is to “…find the source of the problem and then counteract it with its opposite and hopefully stronger sibling.”  What is people pleasing keeping you from doing or being?  Figure this out and then use that knowledge to find a stronger source of fear to feed on.  As I mentioned earlier, this latter kind of fear should be the healthy kind.  A respect that keeps us motivated.
  2. Stop saying yes until you can accurately separate the real need from the non-essential: After years of putting our YES reaction on autopilot, we may find it hard to determine the validity of the incoming requests.  The only way I know to bring this barometer back to a balanced state is to go through a time of constant No’s.  After a while it will become more clear when you are turning down a non-essential request and when a real need is not being addressed.  During this process, be sure to remind yourself that even those valid needs that you are turning down will be addressed by another.  Which leads me to my next tip…
  3. Let go of your need to control: Believe it or not, one of the strong characteristics of a people pleaser is the need to control EVERYTHING.  If anything, our pleasing ways are nothing more than a subtle manipulation to retain control of the situation.  We are trying to control what others think of us and how they act toward us.  This leads us to feel that we are also responsible for every need that comes our way.  I truly believe that each individual was made to assist others in specific ways.  Therefore, it is impossible that we should take on each request that comes our way.  Even those that are truly sincere and equally valid, are not necessarily the needs we are supposed to address.  Over time, as we begin to see clearly once again, we will be able to accurately address those needs that are specific to our nature.  The rest we will redirect elsewhere, confident that they were not meant for our attention.  So let go of this idea that you can/will/should take on the troubles of the world and let go of this control that you think you have.
  4. Stop placing your peace of mind in the hands of others: I love it when I get in a flow of positive productivity.  I’m knocking out task after task and I feel like I can take on anything.  Then, all of a sudden, I have a conflict with another.  Maybe they sent me a nasty email or maybe it was a phone call, but somehow I was given notice that they were not pleased with me.  My world shrinks and my drive dwindles into nothingness.  Out the windows goes my productivity as I place everything on hold to sulk at the situation.  I lose sleep, my appetite and my clarity of thought.  Only recently have I clearly seen the insanity of this silliness.  Why am I placing my own peace of mind and future progress, in the hands of someone who may have just been having a bad day?  This has got to stop and I/you are the only ones who can make this happen!
  5. Fill your desire to please with healthy opportunities to help others: One of the wonderful characteristics of the people pleaser is their honest desire to help others.  Yes, we can be manipulative bastards, no doubt, but we truly DO want to help.  The problem is that when we are ‘practicing people pleasers’ we are unhealthily distributing our assistance.  This just keeps us unclear of the real needs around us and frustrated as we try to help.  Instead of this madness, try to proactively address the needs that you see as necessary.  Enjoy these moments and let them feed on your desire to help.  Over time, this desire to care for another will be less out of control and you will find it MUCH easier to say no when no is the necessary word.
  6. Once again, PROACTIVE assistance: I just mentioned the word proactive in the previous tip.  This is CRUCIAL!  As people pleasers, we are so overwhelmed as we take on every request of assistance that comes our way, that we have no time or energy to address the issues that WE see as fit for our attention.  Think about how CRAZY this is!  What we are essentially doing is assuming that everyone else’s idea of our time well spent is more accurate that our own.  We need to figure out for ourselves what needs we should be addressing and then go out and address them.  Stop waiting for the world to dictate your attention and start attending to the needs you were meant to address.

Final Thoughts

I’m only just starting to break free from this debilitating disease.  I have a long way to go and though I’m starting to feel the taste of real freedom, I remain partially captive to this struggle.  This is MY attempt to proactively help others by hopefully sharing thoughts that are helpful in their journey to regain their personal freedom.  If you are someone who struggles with any of the things mentioned above, by all means, share your thoughts in the comments and feel free to shoot me an email if that seems applicable.

Eric

Comments

  1. says

    I am a total people pleaser, and though it may have its occasional downfall, I find that far more often than not it is is one of the things that adds wind to my sails. I endeavor to please most everyone I meet. As a friend to many, father to two and husband, pleasing people is part of my daily existence. I just make sure I’m included in the list as well. It’s important to not forget about yourself. Once you do, your ability to please others will begin to dim. Having said that, I love being a people pleaser and wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Writer Dad’s last blog post..Black and White

    • says

      Hey Sean, I’m with you here. I certainly do appreciate the fact that I truly desire to make people happy. But as you said, this desire can get out of balance and get us in trouble. Keeping this in check is easier for some than others. Sounds like you’ve got a good handle on it (actually, I know you do. :-) ) Eric

  2. says

    This ALMOST strikes a coord with me. I am an INFP type personality and definitely know what you’re talking about with regard to the fear of rejection. I have however gone too far in the other direction. In the interest of holding folks off and saying no until I know “what I want” I am currently paralyzed by inaction in many ways. I’m desperately bored at work and can’t seem to come up with a plan (again) go get unbored. This is a recurring pattern with me. I had no plans of baring my soul in a blog comment today but that should give you an indication of how much this is driving me nuts.

    Frank Gilroy’s last blog post..7 Ways to Keep a New Blog on Technology Afloat

    • says

      Hey Frank, I totally feel your frustration here! I struggle with cycles as well. I used to go through buying cycles where I would get obsessed with some new hobby and spend WAY too much money on it. Then I would purge it all on ebay and try to feel better about the whole thing. Then I would get bored and do it all over again. We’re addicted to chaos. It keeps us from getting bored. Plain and simple.

      As silly as this may sound, I’ve found that eating less simple carbs (sugar especially) helps tame this tendency. It’s all linked to my ADHD. Crazy! :-) Eric

  3. says

    These are excellent tips for people pleasers! I think sometimes I need to be more of a people pleaser, haha. I do like to avoid friction and conflict which isn’t always good. Even though I wouldn’t consider myself a people pleaser, I definitely learned a lot from this post. Thank you!

    Positively Present’s last blog post..when life gives you lemons…

      • richard m says

        Yeh I related to that so much mate I allways put other be fore my self aspecially my family but slowly over time o have learned to say no and start doing things for my self like self nutureing thanks heaps for that info

  4. says

    Hi Eric,

    Pleasing somebody else is a sure way to be miserable. Even though I know that, sometimes I find myself falling back into trying to please others to get the recognition. I need constant reminders to tell me to respect myself more and be brave enough to say no when I really wanted to say no. This is a detailed article and you must have taken quite an effort to write this. Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers,
    Vincent

    Vincent’s last blog post..You Should Start Asking Questions Now

    • says

      Hey Vincent, you hit the nail on the head when you said ‘recognition’. I like to refer to it as attention and this is definitely something I crave. Kind of like a toddler screaming for attention. Good points! Eric

  5. Philosophie says

    Ouch – that hurt, I resonated with some much of this post it’s scary. People pleasing is indeed essentially selfish, but it’s easier to hide behind so called good motives than admit that I am a complete control freak.

    Good timing as just today I finally came to the realization that perhaps people love me for being me, rather than love me for what I do. Big stuff for me. Of course it also means that if I stop doing stuff, some people that did only like me for what I did will fade away. Tough life lessons….

    Thank you for a really thought provoking post for me.

    • says

      I’m SO GLAD you connected with this post! Us control freaks have to stick together. :-)

      I’ve just recently transitioned away from 5 years as a computer consultant. As my old clients call for computer help they all speak to me as a friend. But once I tell them I no longer work on computers, many of them instantly change their tone. Suddenly it’s like we’ve never even met. They quickly end the conversation. Don’t get me wrong, this is totally understandable, but it also shows me which ones were purely interested in what I could do for them, period.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us! :-) Eric

  6. says

    Thanks! This is on ongoing issue for me as well, and your post is particularly timely for me. I love the flavor metaphor. One thing that’s been helpful for me is the concept of showing up–that is, showing up as my authentic self in my interactions with others. Another thing that’s been helpful is saying “let me sleep on that” to people’s requests for my help. Gives me time to evaluate. In any case, great post, much appreciated!

    Kathleen Christensen’s last blog post..A Lost Opportunity

    • says

      Hey Kathleen, I’m glad you liked the post!

      Your ‘let me sleep on that’ point is spot on. As I read it I thought, “Shoot, I should have thought of that.” :-)

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Eric

  7. says

    I think there’s another kind of people pleaser as well. The kind that says “YES” before he/she’s even asked.

    An example, I used to spend hours cleaning the apartment so when my wife came home she’d be like “Wow!” Amazing.

    But what I was really doing was avoiding the hard work I needed to do for myself. Business stuff. And covering it up by the praise I got when I did “the easy work.”

    Now, we just have a dirty apartment ;)

    brian papa’s last blog post..White River Rapids

    • says

      Hey Brian, great points! Isn’t it funny how manipulative we can be, even to ourselves. Our motives are rarely as pure as we present them.

      “Now, we just have a dirty apartment.”

      That made me smile. :-) Eric

  8. says

    I agree to many of the things you say, Eric.
    Let me bring in a cultural angle to it. In some cultures, for exaple in my Malayalee (people from Kerala, South India), many a times, doing things in order to please others is not only important but also a duty, especially elders. Alright, times are chaging. Still elders command ‘respect’ in the Malayaale sense of the word and need to be please. If you don’t you’re considered badly brought up, disrespectful and lacking a basic quality needed for success – a reverence for people elder to you. In this case, you are often forced to satnd by simple instances of please. Does your concept apply only to Western audiences or the world?

    I too suffer from a flimsy self-respect foundation based on the good feelings of others. It makes me dread others’ displeasure. But I do take my stands and be firm with others. But when it comes to something like taking an initiaitve, if at the planning stage the idea sounds flisy to someone, I feel discouraged.

    Can you please write a post on failure? You mentioned it as your greater fear. I’m kind not worried about it…

    Mat George’s last blog post..At the feet of the cross

    • says

      Hey Mat, thanks for adding this point. Differently cultures certainly add a different dynamic that has to be considered.

      After living in London for 7 months (in a large community of South Asians) I became very aware of this fact. I think the individual has to decide what’s right for them in the situation. As you stated, things are changing and I think many would argue that it’s both for the good AND the bad. Eric

    • says

      Hey Steve, that’s funny because I’ve recently started doing the same thing. Blunt personalities used to rub me the wrong way, but now I totally respect them and try to mimic the good qualities of being upfront with others.

      Glad you could relate! Eric

  9. says

    Holy crap Eric, did you interview me without me knowing? :)

    Seriously this post describes a lot of my personality and ensuing problems. It’s like the old adage of being too good for your own good. This disease as you so aptly put it has literally debilitated me, a couple of years ago I ended up having counselling which helped me understand what I was doing.

    I’m still out for helping people but now I’m more into empowering them; teaching them to fish rather than fishing for them. Telling them what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear.

    Great post Eric.

    Marc’s last blog post..The Power of Positive Thinking

    • says

      Ha Ha! Hey Marc, it sounds like you and I were cut from the same cloth. :-)

      I love your point about empowering vs helping. Very important distinction!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for popping your head into to say hello. Eric

  10. says

    A very thorough and informative article. I am no doubt a people pleaser in the strictest sense so I can completely relate. I’ve been working on it, but as you said, it’s difficult and similar to an addiction. It’s not that I necessarily want people to like me, it’s just that I choose to limit the amount of friction around me. I like peace, but have realized that there are times when ultimate peace isn’t possible.

    You know what’s helped me move along? Having kids. As a father, I have struggled saying no to my kids, but have also learned that most times it is in their interest when I say no.

    Jake | Revive Your Life’s last blog post..Identifying and Overcoming Career Burnout

    • says

      Hey Jake, two great points there.

      One, I’m totally with you about wanting peace. I would definitely agree that it’s often that desire for peace, not the desire to be liked that drives my people pleasing ways.

      Two, having kids should most definitely bring me to say no much more often. It should only be a few more days now and I’ll be able to try that out. Of course, saying no to a newborn may not have quite the same effect. :-) Eric

  11. says

    Hi Eric,
    Great post – although I did come over hoping for a different one! Give Liz our love.

    I’m with you and Marc on the empowering point. For example, with kids, it would be so much easier to do everything for them because we love them so much, but I try to empower them so they’ll be able to live their own lives and think their own thoughts as they grow. It’s helped wean me off being a people pleaser. It does kids – future adults – no good at all if they never hear a firm ‘no’ or learn that a ‘no’ doesn’t mean the same as ‘I don’t love you.’

    It’s taken me years to be brave enough to set clear boundaries and respect other people’s without both of us doing the ‘fear of being rejected’ dance.

    janice’s last blog post..A Touch of Grace

  12. says

    I love the part about how each of us has our own flavor and our own unique perspective. I seriously need some kind of professional help for being a people pleaser! I feel encouraged though, recently I quit a job after only a few days. After the first two days I knew it wasn’t going to work for me. At first I felt like I had to stay and suffer because some friends recommended me for the job. But the thought of staying made me almost physically sick, so I just called them up and said “this isn’t a good fit for me”. I was surprised that it really was no big deal to any of my friends, or even the company. When friends heard why I left they said they didn’t blame me. It felt good to not suffer in silence over something that was making me miserable. The next day I found a job making much more money and a better fit. It was a lesson for me in being kind to myself and how everything will work out if I do.

    Gayle’s last blog post..Feathering the Nest

    • says

      Hey Gayle, that’s a great life lesson you just shared. As you put it, ‘being kind to ourselves’ is just as important as being kind to others. This is something us people pleasers easily miss or forget.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Eric

  13. says

    This was a wonderful article, Eric. I too,am a recovering people pleaser. There is an old adage that says, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” I’d like to change that to say, “If you want something done, ask a people pleaser.”

    I would say “yes, yes, yes” to every request for help with a huge smile on my face and a “no problem” on my lips. Then I would go home and pound a wall with my fist, crying because I just committed to one more thing that I had no time for.

    The thing that cured me was having kids. I finally realized that every time I said “yes” to someone else, I was saying “no” to spending time with my kids. My kids wouldn’t grow up thinking of me as a saint who helped other people. They would grow up wondering why I loved everyone else but them. Big eye-opener.

    I have learned to say no without feeling guilty. I no longer feel dejected if someone doesn’t “like” me. And my biggest lesson: Just because my phone rings does not constitute an obligation on my part to answer it.

    And when IS your baby due?

    Randi’s last blog post..Living a Scentered Life

    • says

      Hey Randi, first, our baby is due on May 22nd, but the Dr. thinks it will be sooner. We’ll see. So far so good. Thanks for asking. :-)

      As for the post, you the third or forth person to mention having kids as a great remedy for the disease to please. The more I think about it the more it makes sense. Even being married and having a business makes my time valuable enough that saying yes comes at a great cost and that cost forces me to rethink my inability to say no.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Eric

  14. says

    Put in right words. Helping people is good but doing it just to get accepted is where lies the problem.

    If you had noticed. It is our inability to take a ‘NO’ constructively and instead suffering a feeling of rejection is what motivates us to be people pleasers.

    Rather if we constructively work on being positive and learn to take a ‘NO’ gracefully, we could avert this ‘People pleasing’ habit.

    • says

      Great points Ganesh! I totally agree that being positive is a great proactive solution to learning to say no AND take no gracefully, as you put it.

      Thanks for adding to the discussion. Eric

  15. says

    Wow, do you have any idea how…how…aaaaaaaahhhh….it feels to read this (please don’t take this wrong, ladies) since it was written by man? And then to see comments from other men who struggle with the same thing?

    Context: I’ve always been told by the women in my life to suck it up and not care what others think; I’ve been told by the men in my life to be a man, stop being so sensitive and screw what others think.

    But, I’ve lived my life worried about what others think, trying to please them, only to come up short and, frankly, in a lot of pain.

    Very instructive recovery points in here, Eric.

    Many, many, thanks. I’m having another moment of healing even as I write.

    Chris’s last blog post..The Forgotten

    • says

      Hey Chris, it makes me happy to read your words. :-)

      I’m totally with you here. I’ve always been a sensitive kind of guy and one who struggled with the fear of rejection, but it’s all about learning from our past and appreciating what we DO have. I’m sure you know what I mean when I say that being on the sensitive side really DOES have its advantages, we just have to learn how to better control it.

      It’s funny, I actually had typed my own…aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!! kind of phrase at one point in the post, but then deleted it. Thanks for putting it back into the conversation. :-) Eric

  16. says

    Great article, and great comments too!

    You said: “I’m only just starting to break free from this debilitating disease”

    Me too! I’ve become the IT “expert” in my office – not out of any real skill, just a natural consequence of being the only one who kind of grew up with computers ;) But I’m just starting to let go of the need to fix everyone’s little IT problems, and guess what, when I don’t immediately jump in and fix it, either a) the problem fixes itself, or b) the colleague with the problem randomly clicks things until they figure out how to fix it ;)

    I agree that being a people pleaser has an element of being a control freak about it, I too am trying to channel this energy into more constructive behaviour.

    BTW my DH does the same kind of IT work as you do and suffers similar issues!

    • says

      Hey Bonnie, long time no see! :-D

      Yeah, I’ve had the same experience with tech stuff, no doubt. As you said, the problem almost always has a way of fixing itself. What I’ve come to realize about those kinds of ‘help requests’ is that when you rush into to help out every time, you’re just training people to seek your assistance the second something goes wrong. Just like little children, if you don’t show them a bit of tough love, they’ll never learn to fend for themselves. And I use the term tough love loosely as I have a little love for many of those who used to bug the crap out of me for tech help! :-)

      Anyway, good to hear I’m not alone, espeically that your DH goes through the same stuff as well. As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Eric295a8c

  17. says

    It’s a good point, I think it’s really important that your actions have to please you as well as the other person most of the time. Every now and again you can break the rule but generally it has to be a win win situation, otherwise you just burn out and become cynical and bitter.

  18. says

    No doubt we need to break the rule now and again. Selfless acts don’t always benefit both parties. At lest not in the common worldly way. But you’re totally right that for the most part, burnout is imminent. Great points! Eric

  19. says

    Eric,

    “The fact is, when we try to please everybody, we end up pleasing nobody.”

    I’m not a people pleaser but I know plenty of them. The fact of the matter is that trying to please people sets an expectation that cannot often be met. It frustrates the pleaser and the pleasee. Different strokes for different folks I guess. I wish you well in your effort to escape this problem and I truly see it as a problem. For some reason I get along with most people and have tons of good relationships, even though I’m not at all a people pleaser. Go figure.

    Stephen – Rat Race Trap’s last blog post..Your Brain on Food and Supplements – Dopamine

    • says

      Hey Stephen, that doesn’t surprise me at all. There’s certainly no connection between being a people pleaser and pleasing people. As you pointed out, it’s just plain annoying for both parties. I’m glad to hear you don’t struggle with it and yet still recognize it a as a real problem. Eric

  20. says

    Very good post! Ultimately, there is only one person we have to please and that is ourself. If we truly persue our passions, our energy and love will spill over into everything we do and we will make others happy without being “people pleasers.”

    Martha

    Martha Giffen’s last blog post..Dolly Parton Punch

    • says

      Hey Martha, that’s a great point! If we don’t first take care of ourselves we will most certainly NOT please those around us.

      Thanks for sharing that insight. Eric

  21. says

    I once read that people treat us how we teach them to treat us. So… if one is constantly pleasing others even at their own detriment, they are essentially teaching others to continue to ask for favors.

    And here’s the irony… I think that people who aren’t people pleasers… who say no when appropriate and stick to their guns are precisely those people who are admired the most. That’s a great irony and a true one.

    Just ask yourself who you admire most and I bet for most of us… it will be someone who isn’t a people pleaser.

    Bamboo Forest – PunIntended’s last blog post..Why You Should Accept Everything in Life Just the Way it is

  22. says

    Another point… that I forgot to include is that if we please people, yet internally resent what we’re doing that is going to eventually express itself in some way. Much wiser to say no when we believe it is the right thing to do. Saying no when we should be saying no precludes the resentment that would otherwise be created. And that resentment can lead to problems with the relationship.

    Bamboo Forest – PunIntended’s last blog post..Why You Should Accept Everything in Life Just the Way it is

    • says

      Very wise statement, Daniel Son! :-) Seriously, excellent points! I would have to completely agree that those I respect the most are certainly not those who can’t say no.

      One minor correction would be to point out that it’s not necessarily NON-people pleasers that are admirable in your scenario, but non-PRACTICING people pleasers. I think there’s a big difference. Many who have people pleasing tendencies have learned to overcome them and ‘stick to their guns’, as you put it.

      Thanks for adding some meaty comments to the discussion. Eric

  23. says

    I love your idea of looking for a greater fear – it’s exactly what I did to get over my people-pleasing disease. I learned that avoiding conflict and people-pleasing only created more conflict, so the fear of real conflict rather than superficial in the moment conflict has pushed me to do what I want to and not aim to please everyone all the time.

    Of course I still quake when I feel that I’ve upset someone. ;)

    • says

      Hey Alex, I’m glad we came to the same conclusion here. And as you point out at the end, those who are recovered people pleasers don’t necessarily stop feeling the the disease, we just stop letting those feelings control our actions. Eric

  24. says

    Hi, thanks for a fascinating article. I actually squirmed when I read the bit about being willing to fail to please another. I actually use to play badly at cards to let my Mum win. I am such a people pleaser I’m almost embarrassed now I see it’s actually a need to control. My Mum wouldn’t dream of asking my sister to do anything for her as she is very impatient – I on the other hand lap up the chance to please her yet feel angry and put-upon deep down.

    I’m working on decluttering my home at the moment, then I intend to declutter myself and my mindset so I will be back for more tips :) Thanks for the inspiration to change!

    Polly’s last blog post..Garage

    • says

      Hey Polly, I actually did a bit of squirming while writing it. :-) I’m glad you could relate. Thanks for taking the time to read and share your thoughts. Eric

  25. says

    Hi,
    I recently discovered your blog. When I read the first paragraph of this post, I knew EXACTLY what you were talking about. It was uncanny how much I related to your words. I’ve always knew this about myself in a vague way with bits and pieces of insight here and there. But you unified this experience in a coherent way. Thank you.

    Vi | Maximizing Utility’s last blog post..Safe Haven

    • says

      I’m so glad you could relate like this. It often times takes hearing it from someone else to solidify it in our own minds. Thanks for sharing this. :-) Eric

  26. Kelly says

    Hi Eric…I am a first time reader, brought over by your ad on Zen Habits. What an amazingly thought provoking post. I am a 42 year mother of four and this is a real issue for me. You have managed to break down this issue in ways that are really eye-opening to me and I’ll be thinking of your words for a long time to come.

    Thank you!!

    Kelly

    • says

      Hey Kelly, I’m so glad you connected with the post! I know how damaging a problem like people pleasing can be. It can really be a life sucker! I really hope you’re able to use my words to break some of the boundaries you’ve make for yourself as a people pleaser. I’m still struggling myself, so we’ll be fighting it together! :-) Eric

  27. says

    Great article.

    My name is Jared, and I’m a recovering people pleaser (among other things;-).

    As you mentioned Eric, people pleasing was a selfish act in a sense, although I sincerely thought I wanted the best for others. It was motivated from a need to be accepted, as I compared my insides to my perception of how I thought others perceived me.

    I’ve also learned to not always try and rescue people I see in pain. Although it hurts to see them suffer, pain is a great motivator. It was for me.

    Once I learned to accept myself, after severe pain and being forced to try something different, did I find self love. And therefore less of a need to find acceptance outside myself.

    I too do some freelance web design/development, and used to struggle a lot with trying to please my clients… working for free many times because I doubted my abilities. I’ve realized how valuable my time is today and tell people up front what I charge and what they will get for their money. If its outside the scope, I tell them and charge them.

    Not until the pain of doing things the same way outweighed the fear of trying something new, was I able to make a real change. Today, I live a life based on a set of spiritual principals. I wake up each morning and pray for guidance. When stuck, I ask for help, and I don’t make promises I know I can’t keep. At night, I review my day and know I did the best I could. I see where I can improve and determine if I need to make any amends. This allows me to please my conscience, which is God.

    Jared | SpiritualZen.net’s last blog post..What Everybody Ought to Know About Action vs. Intention

    • says

      Great insight, Jared! I especially appreciate your words on the web design/client issues and resolutions. You mentioned how you doubted your abilities and I do this ALL THE TIME! I know I’m good at what I do, but there’s just something about the POSSIBILITY of failing or not meeting the expectations of another that keep me on the defense.

      I really appreciate you taking the time to share this! Eric

  28. Audrey says

    Thank you for writing this post. Now I know that I am not alone. I’ve been battling this issue since adolescence. I always felt like I was being taken advantage of by my family and close friends, but I know that it was only because I conditioned them to automatically think I would say “yes” to every request. I started exercising my NO muscle. It took some time to get used to it, especially since I wasn’t…Now it just rolls off the tongue and I don’t feel bad for rejecting other people’s requests.

    • says

      Hey Audrey, you’re definitely NOT alone on this one! I’m glad to hear that you got something out of this post and that you’re growing through this and not continuing to be controlled by it.

      I certainly still struggle with it, but like you I’m working in a positive direction.

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Eric

  29. says

    “But the fact is, people pleasing isn’t about pleasing others, but fending off our fear of rejection”

    - I couldn’t agree more. In fact, wanting to please people may even make you end up doing the wrong things.

    Anthony’s last blog post..Arizona jobs

  30. Awesome says

    This is awesome, I agree that those who are people pleasers will understand it, makes me more free now. thanks

  31. says

    Wonderful post!

    I use your posts for my productivity emails within my work place. It has really helped some of my colleagues in not only our work development but personal as well.

    I totally relate to this post and I thank you for writing it. I am a total people please and its exactly for the reason stated: acceptance.

    I like your last tip about being proactive. I have recently started my own blog Lemonade 25 Cents for this reason. I love motivating other people. I have thisi strong desire in me to really improve others. I am no where near perfect, but in this journey through life I am learning a lot and I think it’d be selfish to keep it to myself. Through that I am being proactive and satisfying my desire to help others. However I am doing in a healthy way, one that not only helps others, but also helps me as well.

    Kudos to you! ^5

    -Tupieta

    Tupieta’s last blog post..Who I Am

    • says

      Thanks Tupieta, I really appreciate that vote of confidence! :-)

      It sounds like you have a similar desire as I do and I’m glad you’re using that drive to help others. I really hope the best for you blog and that you’ll find a wonderful audience to share your thoughts and ideas with.

      Eric

  32. Awesome says

    After reading this post, I felt this is my story and without adding any extra effort I have improved a lot and started feeling some changes. I don’t feel that pain and suffering in order to live up to others expectations. I have stopped doing public service and help people only when they really need me, instead of feeling that they need my help all the time. I feel more free now and less responsible for others and biggest of all I feel the FREEDOM.

    Thanks a lot Eric. I guess this is one thing in my life which I should have learnt earlier, but better late then never.

  33. JF says

    wow. My jaw was dropping as I kept reading this. Honestly I just stumbled upon your post from a google search of ‘why am i a people pleaser’, and then to see something hit home in so much detail, kinda weird. I feel like for ages I’ve been fighting to keep my head above water, dealing with avoiding conflict of my own and also conflict between people that i’m dealing with (borrowing trouble). When my head’s miraculously/randomly above water, I can carry on with my job, my life, education, relationships, attain goals, no problem. But when i slip back in to bad habits again, it’s like partial drowning. Strange way to explain it, but that’s how it feels to me. Just this evening I was working for over an hour (!) on an email to two people that I do volunteer work with, trying to resolve an issue that wasn’t even mine to begin with!! Finally it was like a breakthrough – i just said out loud to myself – this is not MY problem, why am I so uptight??!! (Volunteer work – a whole ‘nother chapter right there. Guess who wins the Miss Dependable award?)

    It’s interesting that you brought up the control aspect, too. I never connected the two… but i’m painfully aware of my controlling/perfectionistic tendencies.

    A few more comments –
    Have to practice saying no. Seems like it’s a foreign word sometimes, so we literally/physically need to practice it (in a mirror, or with a trusted friend) until it feels less foreign – “No, I don’t have time right now”, “No, I don’t agree with you”, or whatever. (Shades of SNL’s Stuart Smalley!) I attended a meeting once led by a man from Zig Ziglar’s group and he talked quite a bit about the daily affirmation practices he did in the mirror and how effective they were. Motivation / Repetition, it works.

    The root of Procrastination – maybe the extra baggage I take on when pleasing others is what’s putting me so behind in my own work, ‘making me’ be late or barely getting things done in time? I do get presentations finished, I do get to the airport on time, I do pass the exams, but there are more laaaaaate nights and anxious stomach-aches than I ever care to admit.
    Or — does procrastination instead stem from a fear of failure, to such a degree that I’m in a state of paralyzed deer-in-the-headlights inertia until I can’t stand it anymore (like my hour-long emails) or until the very last possible minute? I’ve long thought that I had a sick addiction to the last-minute adrenaline rush. But maybe instead I’ve been subconsciously painting myself into a corner until there’s one, and only one, way out, so I ride that adrenaline wave and do my best and convince myself later that that best effort on the only way out was a good one, after all; that I didn’t fail, that this procrastination method IS painful but by golly it worked one more time. It’s a bad habit but it’s the only one I know. ?

    Choice of words: the self-esteem, fear of failure, people-pleasing connections — I’ve become more and more aware of this lately. Mostly it’s in email but I notice it in conversation, too. “I think”; “in my opinion”; “I just wanted to remind you”, “it seems like”; “may i suggest”; “have you considered”; etc etc. Internally as I’m typing those words I’m over-sensitive to them, like far-be-it-from-me to say something definitive, declarative or bold to the other person, because it might piss someone off or it might be wrong (!). Of course these phrases do have their place many times in professional/polite conversation and in email, for sure, but I feel like I’m using them to tip-toe around topics.

    Thanks again – so therapeutic to see your words and finally get mine written down !

    • says

      A very insightful comment to say the least. You really hit on some things I struggle with as well. I’m the king of last minute adrenaline. It’s what get’s me to finally act. I attribute much of this to my ADHD. My lack of natural frontal cortex stimulation that requires me to orchestrate the “almost didn’t get that done” kind of situation that gets that necessary adrenaline flowing.

      And yes, I beat around the bush and tip toe all the time! I like the way you put it, “far-be-it-from-me to say something definitive, declarative or bold to the other person”. It’s like we feel the need to cover ourselves in case we happen to be wrong. I say, “most likely” or “there’s a good chance” all the time. Nothing set in stone. It’s like I’m giving my opinion in such a way that gives me a way out in case I’m wrong or (here’s the real people pleaser mindset) in case I’m perceived to be wrong. That’s even worse to a people pleaser.

      Anyway, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I enjoyed reading your insights. Now keep pushing past this paralyzing disease to please and be yourself. Do what you think is best, say what you mean and mean what you say and when you’re wrong, learn from it and move on. Oh, and when someone isn’t pleased with you, tell them to take a number and get in line. The only people who please all people all the time are those who never truly live out their own convictions.

      Eric

  34. Maggie says

    Eric, thanks for your site, my question is this: i am genuinely interested in other people so i always ask them about their lives and try to get to know them, this is almost never reciprocated so we end up with a monologue situation, ie, constantly about them. If i say something about myself, they look blank, almost bewildered and just grunt a response. I’m sick to death of it and getting disalussioned with people, they also tend to try and domiante me, just because i don’t try and dominate them. Is this the only dynamic for human relationships? I’m fed up. I feel like i’ve totally lost my flavour.

    • says

      Hey Maggie, sorry for the belated reply to your great question.

      To get straight to the point, it sounds like you’re losing people’s respect and, as you pointed out, your flavor, when you put all the focus on others. As much as people like to talk about themselves they also respect those who have something unique/interesting to say as well.

      You need to make others feel like they need to earn your interest; at least a little. I think people need a bit of a challenge when earning attention and if it’s just given out for free as you’ve explained, they may just decide you’re not worth their time.

      I know this may sound harsh and it definitely makes others sound selfish, but the fact is, WE ARE SELFISH! You know? I mean, we’re selfish people and you sound like someone who genuinely cares for others.

      So my advise would be to just do what you think is right and not let others’ reactions effect yours. If you’re losing your flavor, get it back, but don’t do anything for the sake of trying to win respect from what sound like a bunch of selfish individuals.

      Does any of this make sense or am I just rambling like a fool? :-) Eric

      • Maggie says

        Hi Eric, many thanks for your reply and it makes perfect sense. I just guess that i had gotten to the point where i didn’t know if i had any genuine empathy for others or not. My people pleasing addiction dictated everything, like every addiction it demands a certain kind of behaviour (with the end result of the ‘i’m liked and there was no friction’ box being ticked) and you just go along with it regardless, all the while knowing something is dreadfully awry. Feeling drained and eventually afraid of people isn’t healthy, you feel trapped and everywhere you turn is a dead end – created by yourself. My counteracting fear is now: THIS COULD BE LIKE THIS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. Beleive me, it is a good one. I have already found the resourses inside me to change a work situation that was just plain wrong and have taken many steps back from certain people. Everything in good time though, i don’t want to lose some otherwise good people in my life. I have also just returned from a meditation class so i can finally get to know the real me! I’ll let you know how i get on but many thanks for your wonderful site, By the way, i’m a Londoner, which part did you stay in?

        Maggie

  35. says

    I think this post has hit ‘People Pleasing’ on the head. I am a culprit of people pleasing but over time I have come to realize whom my real friends are from this. As I am getting older I am getting stronger in being more opinionated and sticking up for myself at work but I do still struggle now again and outside of work with friends of friends. For instance, there is the girl whom I met through my best friend who has a very controlling nature, we have all been out a few times and I’ve come to realize that she has a big problem with me, she constantly says she loves my outfit and where I got it from, when there are another ten other woman in the same room but she pin points me every time. I noticed her giving me a stinking look when I was talking to a bloke I knew from school whom she was briefly talking to before hand and then the other day my boyfriend gave my friend and this girl and her friend a lift to a club and then we saw her out last weekend and she said hello to all my friends and blatantly ignored me. This I found so frustrating and rude and afterwards I was more annoyed with myself as I didn’t say anything to her and when she went I went off on one in front of my other friends, which I might add they have never seam me like before. I know not everyone is going to like you but I have done nothing wrong to this girl and to be honest I can’t say I have actually been a people pleaser towards her.

    My friends say she is jealous of me or she could fancy me as she is bi-sexual????? Or is it because she can see I am an easy target????? I don’t know? Help!!!!!!

    Thanks guys

    • says

      You’re probably an easy target if you’re naturally a people pleaser and the other piece of advice I can give is WHO CARES WHAT SHE THINKS!!

      See, that’s one of our biggest problems as people pleasers. We want EVERYONE to like us and if/when we find someone who doesn’t it drives us crazy! The best remedy for a situation like this is to accept the possibility that this person doesn’t like you and then stop caring. Quit picking apart every situation to see how she is with you to determine what you already know. She has some kind of issue with you and that’s HER PROBLEM! Does that make sense?

      And the crazy thing is, it’s usually when we finally stop caring and that other person realizes that they no longer get to us, that they gain some respect for us and either stop bothering us or even try to befriend us. Either way they have the problem, not you.

      At least that’s my 2 cents. :-) Eric

  36. says

    Thank you so much for that Eric and your right, I already know what I know and I am going to stop caring about this girl and I will keep this in mind for any situations that may arise in the future. Thanks again and what a quick reply, fantastic!!!!

  37. lavana says

    hello. I’m a PP too…
    I really want to please people.
    when I look at their eyes I can’t be cruel to them.
    if someone do something wrong I don’t say anything to him/her.
    most of the time i redirect the problems to myself and sometimes say
    I’m doing it because I don’t want any one to be unhappy..
    and I can do that but don’t want any one to be angry
    that’s sometimes make me think for a long time and I don’t do my own job
    although I can decide well and I’m very strong in logical mind
    but I prefer to find a GF for another person than find one for myself.
    It’s easier for me to struggle for another person than myself
    Sometimes I try to do something to help someone who I know is not helping himself. then I see I’m failing helping myself and do my duties.
    Is this people pleasing? have you ever experienced this.?
    so then when I get home I’m really unhappy and tired . my eyes are half closed and everyone can say that I’m exhausted.
    I’m always imagine myself for example singing music for others or telling them what to do rather than doing my own job well.

  38. says

    So im pretty sure that im a people pleaser as well. All of the things ive read about, ie. the symptoms, reasons for doing it. They all make sense. The thought of someone not liking me, is excruciating, almost to the point where im having trouble functioning? So maybe im on the very extreme side of the effects of people pleasing?
    My mom i can say is definatly a people pleaser. Which is prolly where i get it from. She cant have anyone thinking negatively about her ansd always puts on a happy front. Even with me, i dont think ive ever seen her show true emotion? Im 26, just to put that into perspective.
    Also ive read about how individuals who are people pleasers, have trouble with relationships with the oppoite sex. Always seeking approval, and just agreeing with they’re partner? And in the end, really resenting them for it? Which i can totally agree with. I definatly am always seeking the aproval of woman, i need them to want me, and think good things about me, not just woman, but its a big part of it. Any thoughts on what im writing, im not really able to talk to anyone about this, my friends and family dont really get it. So any insight.. bad or good would be helpfull!! :)

  39. Amber says

    I am 20 years old and I was even studying psychology and I completely just now realized that what people have been telling me I do and “am” is a people pleaser and its real. Even worse I became a leader on a game that I totally try to keep going. Not only do I hate when people leave my guild, but I feel that I failed and I blame this all on myself. I feel that its something I did even when it wasn’t I just now realized this the other night when I KNEW it wasn’t my fault and my boyfriend told me that he was upset because I was upset. His words were “You blame everything on yourself”. This really made me think. Not only that but I even was victim of flirting with others and not really wanting too to “be nice”…. I really wish I knew about this all sooner…reading this I knew that it was a perfect description of me and I almost cried knowing that I can change… Thank you so much for this article. It really may help me and all my friends who think I am “taking on everything” because its true.

  40. Jess says

    Hello Eric,

    I’m so happy to have come across your article! Every bit of it, I could of written if I were to have the clarity you do. (Although, I now do, as you’ve really shedded some light!)

    I’ve been narrowing in on my issues recently, and people-pleasing has truly seeped into every aspect of my life. It’s come to a head, in a big way, and I’m now fI’ve been forced to look at myself dead on: I’m not such the amazing, sweet and strong person I’ve idealized for myself. My wanting to help others, and so much of my interactions and motivations with others is really about me and my need for acceptance – and by that I mean: “You better think I’m #1″! nutso. I need other people to like me, so much so that the “me” gets lost amongst the “me” I try to create. I’ve lost so much sleep and time to people pleasing. But it’s a world I’ve created – similar to what you mentioned in a previous reply, someone elses bad day is our emotional armageddon.

    Oh man, I could go on and on. But I will say that I’m at a place where walls are falling – walls I had built around myself. I’ve been saying “No”, and I’ve been speaking with confidence. (Actually, an essay I read by Emerson inspired me to declare my thoughts without the need to say “I think” or “It seems to me” all the time.)

    My toughest struggle is with my Mom. Because she’s not someone I can just be like, “Take a ticket, and get in line”. There is the deepest need for her to accept me. And I will say this, it’s not a selfish one. Not in this case. Because for her to accept me would mean, in her case, to see me for who I am. Simply put, to know that I love her. And, God love it, I just so happen to have a Mom who has volatile emotional whatevers of her own and perpetually thinks me not to care or love her no matter what I do. And me, I perpetually fail to live up to her expectations. It’s a crying fight every time I go home to visit because I either wasn’t there early enough (I’m a perfectionist/procrastinator), or if I visit anyone else, or basically, if I just do anything that she could perceive as me not caring – even though I drive 4 hours TO SEE HER.

    I just realized how long and personal this posting just got, but what the hey, maybe someone can relate and take something from this and/or share their thoughts about parents – or maybe possible sources of our people pleasing? (My Mom is a people pleaser in her own right! In the “paint on a happy face” kind of way for everyone besides the immediate family.)

    But anyway, yeah-Wow, this article just brought so much clarity to the table. I’m a “people pleaser”, OK. And apparently, there are others out there who get it, who can relate to me, and that helps a lot. Thank you.

  41. Dave Griffiths says

    Thanks for your great but simple article. I had an aggressive father who would erratically burst into a temper and sometimes violence for reasons only known to him, and who was never challenged by anyone else in the house. As a consequence, the only way forward I could learn was to be a pleaser. It has taken me years to begin too see that I was really dead scared of the same anger and violence emerging at any time, … so, I usually using wit and humour tried to advance calm most situations – often kinda suppressing challenging comments – including those so often needed for creative tension, just in case they might lead to anger.

    Most sadly for me as a lifelong Christian, I kept mis-interpreting those ‘go the extra mile’ positive values into people pleasing. Instead of growing the wisdom and values of my (heartfelt) faith, I kept going round in circles that seemed never to turn out to be such good ones. Learning I don’t need to PP, is such a relief and a release. I still catch myself falling for the same internal pressures, especially if caught out ‘in the moment’ – and back tracking when you’ve already offered help that is gonna way overstretch you is DOUBLY Difficult! But slowly the pattern gets less and less compulsive, and I’m now finding more of the inner peace my faith always seemed to offer, but I never could find personally know.

    Many thanks for your openness on this issue

    Dave

  42. lincoln larousse says

    my name is linc. i am realizing that you are the only one here in houma that is listening. i am around lots of straight people; i am gay ; not in a relationship ; and not sure where my freinds are with me. i lived in new orleans in gay society and was unhappy. i left new orleans came to houma and paranoid with my life in straight society. i dont frequent gay bars dont have to many gay freinds here. i need to look at this. i have a best freind who lives in nashvillle who was my partner. he is coming visit me.he actually is moving here. i think what i need to do is not concentrate so much on myself but reach out toward others in houma..i need to leave some people alone;not try to control or manipulate . i also met some guys and gals who enjoys being assholes. its a game ; its also what is hard you dont have to like me but you must love me unconditionally; spirituality; what we are taught from alcoholic anonymous fellowship..placing principles before personalities. its a touhh being hard on ourselves and considerate of others. thank you

  43. says

    good day my prozac is working; my real freinds here in houma are accepting my truth. ;bipolar disorders ;panic attacks. being treated professionally. i tend to not accept this condition especially when things are sometimes normal. i wanted to especially thanks;i needed just to jounal and i found your website, i am also working on people pleasin issues; got honest with everyone family and freinds;and doing well today. i would like to hear from others;my email is lincoln_larousse@yahoo.com

  44. says

    Great insight. I am not a people pleaser myself, but some of the people around me are. I love these people very much, and always try to help them learn to make their decisions. Be the “boss” if you will of their own lives.

    But its hard for me to help someone without being able to first understand what it is like to be a people pleaser, or more importantly why people are people pleasers. But this article is a great point of reference for those I am trying to help live their lives. Thanks for the great insight!

  45. Lora says

    I feel so relieved that I’m not alone….I can identify with everthing you said and I find it a real struggle to change. I am a very sensitive person and feel things deeply so it’s really challenging for me to be in social situations. I pick up on people’s moods and somehow make it about me and something I’ve done wrong etc. I hate it and it frustrates me. Thank you for your honesty and sharing, I find it so comforting and will try some of your suggestions.

  46. Lora says

    I just wanted to add…thank you everyone for all your honest sharing…it’s like reading my own thoughts. Sometimes when I get in my funk, I feel so alone like I’m the only person with insecurities. I’m doing my best on this journey to get more in touch with my strengths and focus on them. I could write on and on. Writing has become like my spiritual journey…when I write how I feel about whatever is going on, somehow I feel like the universe is listening and then people or situations seem to appear and give me more insight and help make things better. Anyway, thank you for the opportunity to share this part of myself. Bless you all on your journeys.

  47. me says

    Hi, all…I just found this blog, and it wasn’t an accident – I know I am a people plesaer. I just don’t know how to stop it. I accuse my partner of driving me nuts sometimes – and it’s not her at all, it’s me. “She is driving me nuts” because I don’t feel as if I can “make” her happy. She has even told me that before and it’s not that she isn’t happy with me – we’ve been together 19 years, I must have done something right along the way.
    Anyway, I am just happy to see that there are so many others out there like me. Now I just gotta figure out how to fix me.

  48. says

    i am head of my own networking site with twitter. i have freelanced all my life as a professional male model actor heart cath imager . i am writing my second novel i love my dog rusty and my freinds brothers sisters at a distance. i trust in myself and my many talents i find artistic people a blessing and keep myself and life real . i hate fakes !!!! you dont have to like me even though i am a people person. i am gay and my best freind owns a bed breakfast and travels throughout the world.. she is 80 years old and we climb mountains and pyramids.. she is and her freinds tyhe most interesting people i surround myself and life with a breath of love and cajun culture history!! my boook is focused on cajun culture history and good earth people the simple good lives of my freinds. i am blessed in many ways. i am lincoln linc larousse

  49. Charlie says

    Hey Eric, I found lots of parallels with my own life with your description of yourself in your article – I’m a former software engineer (now a pastor), and a recovering people-pleaser with ADHD who now tries to help others learn to say “no” sometimes. You had a lot of good insights in your article, particularly your identifying people-pleasing with a fear of rejection.

    I do have a suggestion, however, concerning your solution of focusing on the greater fear (or respect) of failure. While I’m sure that works many times to counter the need to please everyone, and have had that motivation myself sometimes, I have found a more biblically oriented solution that I believe goes further.

    The Bible teaches that “perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18). Many people who are PPs are trying to avoid rejection because they want to be loved, to belong, to have a sense of security and significance. They try to please people in order to gain those things. But they are looking for them “in all the wrong places”.

    Only God, who created us for fellowship with Himself and out of His amazing love for us sent His Son to die for our sins so we could experience forgiveness and receive eternal life – only He can truly provide our ultimate significance, security, and love. When you know you are loved without condition by the King of the Universe who actually laid down His life so that you could be adopted into His family, it takes away that fear of rejection by mere mortals!

    Having that eternal security and the ultimate significance of being chosen by the Creator of the Universe to pass along His love to others frees us up to follow the leading of His indwelling Holy Spirit according to His word, the Bible. Since our Creator knows us better than we know ourselves, He is able to guide His children to love others, not by always pleasing them, but by discerning what they truly need (even when it is non-pleasing “tough love”) and whether or not we are the ones who would best meet that need!

    So I find that love is a better solution than just finding a greater fear. Fear of failure may stop you from just pleasing others, but it will continue to produce anxiety about failure itself, which can result in perfectionism and other dysfunctional or ultimately unfulfilling strategies. “Have no anxiety about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) You accurately pointed out that one’s peace of mind should not be placed in the hands of others. It is only safe, really, in the hands of God!

    Even Harry Potter experienced that love wins out over fear!

    In Christ’s love, Charlie

    • Kim says

      Thanks for an insightful article, Eric, much of what you’ve said makes sense to me. I suffer from people-pleasing and it seems to be a recurring problem for me – even today, which is why I typed it into google and found your article!

      Thanks also to Chris, I’m a believer and feel terrible if I say no to a request, but reading your post and how it relates to this issue is brilliant!

      Thanks both!

      Kim

  50. shawn worrlein says

    Hi Eric,
    Thanks for the excellent article. As a professional people pleaser (due to so many years of practice) I can relate to most of what you are saying. You have a good grasp on many of the dynamics that occur and do a great job explaining them. Unfortunately just because we have a good grasp on something does not equate with automatic change and therefore the work is ongoing. Thanks for your insights.

  51. Audrie says

    Eric,

    I am a college student that has just come to terms with the fact that I am a total people pleaser. Several decisions have been influenced by my “people pleasing” attitude. It’s frustrated because I can’t tell if my decisions are genuinely what I want or what I’m doing to please others. I feel like I’ve lost myself somewhere along the way.

    -Audrie

  52. says

    Hi Eric,
    Nice info right there! living your life trying to please each and everyone is by far one of the biggest mistakes one could make in life.Human beings are like snakes,the more you please ,the more they “poison”,well some people anyway.Isn’t it crazy to worry about what someone else is thinking of you yet they’re only guests in your reality?

  53. says

    Thanks for the thoughts. I have come a long way in walking away from this behavior, yet your words opened my eyes to some craggy corners it is still hiding in. I have some work to do.

  54. Alex says

    Hey Eric,

    So, like others here, I googled people pleasing, under the search ‘I don’t know who I am without falling into my old people pleasing habits’.. I came across your article and found it unbelievably relevant, painful, and inspiring. Never had I thought of people pleasing as a ‘debilitating addiction’ or ‘disease’ like the ones you’d find people discussing in the rooms of AA, but as simply a bad habit, like being chronically late, that could be remedied with a little effort.

    Now, though, I’m realizing the painfully real implications of this flawed mode of thinking and feeling. I’m a 21 year old college student about to enter his final year as a psychology major. I’ve always needed the approval/acceptance of my peers – above that even of my family – and, looking back, have made the majority of my life choices based on what they ‘d think of me.

    Fear of being rejected, of being talked about, and, most of all, of being alone, have constantly driven me to being too agreeable, to dropping all of my priorities in hopes of being with/pleasing a particular person. And, like you, I’ve used my productivity in college as a buffer for my self-esteem, and as a way to soothe the usual discomfort I felt while alone. Yet, if after a day’s hard work, I called a girl, or a ‘friend’ of mine and he/she didn’t answer, I’d be crushed.

    That’s my great personal dilemma: I’m so afraid of what people will think of me if I let my guard down, that I constantly revert to people pleasing through entertaining others. And, though, in my mind, I wasn’t ‘found out’ and felt glimpses of happiness in those moments while with them, I always left wondering the same thing – why doesn’t she call me if I make her laugh so much? I’m smart, I’m good-looking, she says she enjoys my company, so why? Why do I always have to call others first, why don’t people come to me for emotional support. I fell for that girl in college, and, ultimately, she couldn’t commit because I wasn’t emotionally stable enough. And now I know why.

    I used to be an extremely open person, and am still very honest, but have been disappointed too many times to risk another painful separation. I guess, what I’d like most is to become a stronger, more self-reliant person. A person who will stop a lifetime of misplaced convictions out of a fear that if he doesn’t, he will continue to suffer disappointment after disappointment.

    I never before wanted to look at myself, and so used others as a kind of biased reflection, but now feel I finally have the wherewithal and drive to change, and feel extremely fortunate to have come across your article.

    And finally, was there a significant event or part of your upbringing that led you to fall in the habit of people pleasing, Eric? I ask simply because I think many people with low esteem like people pleasers come from broken, conflicted, or partially absent families.

    Thanks for the article. It really resonated…

    • Eric Hamm says

      Hey Alex,

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences.

      To answer your question, it’s hard to pinpoint a specific event, but I can certainly pick out two things in my childhood that I’m sure played a big role.

      First, having red hair and freckles and looking like I was about 5 years younger than I was made me an easy target for bullying and verbal abuse from other kids. This shattered my self-esteem and left me feeling like I always HAD to win people over, which made me a natural overbearing kid (eg. annoying).

      Second, I have a brother but he’s almost 6 years older than me and left for the army at the age of 18 so my adolescence was spent as pretty much an only child. And with both my parents working at their Furniture store full time I had a lot of time to myself.

      Being an introvert this wasn’t always bad as I generally played well by myself and found alone time to be a nice escape, but it also left me craving attention and that added to my natural tendency to pine for others attention, which pushed them away.

      One other thing I just thought about while typing this out is the fact that I was totally a hyperactive ADHD kid. I had too much energy for my own good. So this, coupled with the other things mentioned above meant that I was just plain annoying much of the time.

      The thing that really knocked me out of my people pleasing (initially, though I will always struggle with it), was coming to the Lord (becoming a Christian). This happened after a lot of drug and alcohol abuse (my main form of escape back in those days), when I hit rock bottom. It was there that I found God waiting for me with open arms and it was at that moment that I stopped caring so much about what people thought of me.

      Now, having said this, it still took over a decade to get to the point where I could write this blog post and pinpoint so much of the details of my “disease”. And even to this day I struggle, just in a more “recovering” kind of way.

      On a side note, after reading your comment one thing that came to mind was the fact that as people pleasers, one of our greatest dilemmas we face is the impossible situation where we want people’s respect, but by bending over backwards for everybody we lose it left and right.

      In other words, we act in a way that actually lessens our respectfulness, because we want to be respected. Being liked is more often mentioned, but deep down inside it’s respect that we crave and that’s just not achievable when we never say no to someone or always act as the pursuer of attention.

      I’m glad you’re becoming so aware of your People Pleasing this early on in your life. The first step to stopping this insanity is being aware of it while it’s happening.

      You said this:

      “I guess, what I’d like most is to become a stronger, more self-reliant person. A person who will stop a lifetime of misplaced convictions out of a fear that if he doesn’t, he will continue to suffer disappointment after disappointment.”

      That’s spot on and I hope you are able to achieve that! There’s nothing worse than waking up well into your adulthood and finding that you’ve wasted many years of life doing what you “think” others want you to do or who you “think” they want you to be.

      Eric

  55. Eric Hamm says

    Hey everybody,

    I know I haven’t responded in a while. I’ve been busy with work and family, but I just wanted to say thanks for all the feedback and I’m glad to know that this post is still finding its way to the right people and resonating as much now as it did when I first wrote it.

    Eric

  56. Angie says

    As I sat down this morning to reflect on the new year, I realize I am unhappy and restless and have become increasingly resentful of my people pleasing life. I had a counselor tell me years ago that I probably think that being a pleaser is one of the best things about me. Well, yea( I thought)… But the way he said it indicated it is a real fault. Huh. I have tried different ways to understand and overcome this driving force in me, but it is still ruling much of my life. I am seeing how it is imprisoning me, and I have really lost myself, my flavor as you say. The question comes, “if you take away the pleaser in me, WHO AM I?” I honestly don’t know who I am apart from being the pleaser that takes on the personalities of those around me. How sad is that? I honestly want to break free. I resonate with so much of what you are saying. How do I begin to discover who I am, what I like and dislike, when so much of my decision-making process is made of what those around me want. And I am scared of losing the “happiness” I get fom pleasing others. It feels selfish to just proceed with what I want. Even though in the sick world of people pleasing, I am only pleasing others for the selfish reason of their acceptance.

    • Eric Hamm says

      “…in the sick world of people pleasing, I am only pleasing others for the selfish reason of their acceptance.”

      Exactly!

      Eric

  57. Julia says

    This ‘disease’ is unbelievably draining. I am only 20 and I’ve never really noticed the harm it can do until recently. But i can’t see myself not being a people-pleaser. And on top of everything else that is going on at the moment, to stop and focus on ‘fixing’ the problem seems nothing but selfish..yet i cannot seem to continue because I am so drained and can’t help but fall into a pattern of recurring depression. Tips? Advice?

  58. Ari says

    Thank you for writing such an insightful article.
    I resonated so much with it and also with Alex’s recent post and your reply to him.
    I always thought of myself as a really nice and open person, who just wants everyone to be happy and never wants to hurt anyone’s feelings. I am seeing now that actually I am just very scared of people not liking me so I am afraid to show them who I really am. It’s very painful to see that my actions have really been very self-serving!
    I always thought I was very insightfully reading people’s reactions to me. If I sense that people have an opinion different from mine (whether it be religion, politics, childrearing or even much smaller issues) I just clam up! Rather than risk rejection or possibly hurting someone’s feelings by disagreeing I either agree, or say nothing at all.
    I am constantly analyzing people’s reactions to me and constantly having my feelings hurt when I feel people are not taking the time to get to know me! I realize now that my personality is becoming rather flat, as you mentioned in the article, I am losing my flavor! It’s no wonder people are not taking the time to get to know me. I have no opinions on anything anymore! I am losing that spark I once had and I have been blaming others for not allowing me to be myself!
    I feel overworked and run down, I feel especially like my children take advantage of me and use me as the maid and that my in-laws constantly step on my toes, but after reading this article I see where I have (in an effort to be accepted and viewed as perfect) actually put myself in a situation where I don’t receive the respect and love I deserve because I act like a doormat!!
    I can see where issues from my childhood, my parent’s divorce, being a shy dorky girl, moving from east to west coast and being criticized for being different, talking different, led me to try and fit in and conform myself to what I thought was most acceptable to other people. I think I gained some acceptance which led to self confidence in high school and young adulthood and during that time made many close lasting relationships. Then as an adult I went through a painful divorce and when I re-married we moved to my husband’s home town where I knew no one but him and his parents so again I quickly tried to make myself acceptable to everyone by not speaking my mind or being myself until I thought I knew who they wanted me to be! This has NOT worked! 12 years later I am depressed because I don’t have any real friends!
    Wow! You have inspired me to take action and get off this crazy train! It has caused me a lot of pain and although my efforts have always been an attempt to make me feel better, they have definitely left me feeling worse! Like you, giving my life to Christ has made a huge difference, although I STILL struggle with this problem, it’s only been 8 years so maybe I need to wait two more?? :)
    You’ve written a beautiful article here on a subject many of us struggle with, I feel it’s a great start, now would you happen to have any ideas or insights on raising self-confidence and becoming your more authentic self?
    Would love to hear back from you if you have the time!
    Thanks

  59. dg says

    This is a very nice article with lots of great information. My wife was a chronic people pleaser, and to make things worse, she is also pathologically shy. I didn’t really know this when we were married twenty years ago and for the first 12 years of our marriage it caused huge problems in all areas. Somehow her people pleasing would often involve me as a reluctant participant; can’t tell you how many times she has accepting a friend’s useless crap that I just have to end up taking to the dump; or how about time time she volunteered to coach our daughter’s soccer team and then asked me to take over because she doesn’t know anything about soccer. The list is long.
    Her shyness caused huge problems in all areas of our marriage. She was simply unable or incapable of speaking her mind on anything, be it where to go for dinner or complex stuff like politics. Whenever I would ask for her input I would be met with a wall of silence. I had considered walking out many times because I wanted to be married to an equal partner and she seemed incapable of being that equal partner.
    Somewhere around 7 or 8 years ago, after being met with the wall of silence for the 10,000th time, I basically gave her an ultimatum. Either figure out how to be an equal partner and focus on how to make our marriage more productive (i.e. significantly reduce the people pleasing and shyness) or our marriage is over.
    In my mind, the ultimatum was just window dressing, as I had already conceded that the marriage was over. To my surprise, however, what happened was almost a marriage miracle. Within a month of my ultimatum, she significantly reduced her take home work, she began telling me what she wants and needs, she began to tell me when she doesn’t agree with my decisions, and we had arguments and disagreements without the world coming to an end. We also began to enjoy each others company and started to feel like a true partnership and marriage.
    Fast forward to the present. My wife is still tremendously shy, but not in the context of our marriage, and the people pleasing stuff is almost a non-issue. Two or three of her friends still consider me their kind of “go-to” guy for certain things (“can you sell this bike on craigslist”, or “can you put this new bike together”…I used to have a bike shop), but now my wife, instead of agreeing to their requests, will ask me, instead of just assuming, and in some cases their friends pay me or offer to pay me (which I usually decline). My wife and I talk about almost everything now, and we even have established a regular “date day”, where she takes a sick day (you know, a mental health day, as the saying goes) and we spend the day together (I have a flexible schedule).
    I’m really quite happy with my marriage now, and the point of this story is simply to say that change for the better is possible. I don’t know how my wife made the change but I’m very happy she did.

  60. says

    Eric,
    I greatly appreciate your time & energy put into creating this blog, which I just discovered today! It is a very beneficial resource, which both informs & allows People Pleasers a place to be heard.
    Wish I had been aware of it while I was holding my telesummit: People Pleasers Recovery Time: Lifeline to Reclaim You! I would have invited you to be a guest speaker.
    Your blog is an excellent, initial step for awareness, acknowledgment, and acceptance.
    The bottom line for People Pleasers who are not at Peace in their lives is take further action steps to develop Self Love. It becomes the People Pleasers’ responsibility to make changes to move from where they are to where they be. In other words, to create a more desired lifestyle. It’s a choice! Otherwise, People Pleasers’ may become full of resentment & unforgiveness, which are now scientifically linked to cancer. Also, they could face a nervous breakdown, parent or job burnout etc. This makes it important to make their time & energy a priority knowing that isn’t selfish, rather self preservation. A next step if I may suggest, is for a People Pleaser is to pay attention to their thoughts & beliefs. By doing this it should become evident how & what self talk, beliefs etc. they may want to eliminate/change. Changing the thought process produces different behaviors. Therapy may or may not be needed. What is definitely need if one can not accomplish this alone is empowerment & support from friends, family or maybe even a Life Coach!
    Keep up the great healing your words provide here!
    Sincerely in Spirit,
    Sharon

  61. Amy Carroll says

    Hi Eric,
    I’m only 19 years old but I’m a born and bred people pleaser. My issues today mainly revolve around the demands of my controlling father and the rejection I receive when I can’t be the daughter he wants. I feel like my parents have set me on this path of such need for acceptance. I often wonder not how did I become this way? But instead how could I not be this way? I’m only young but I feel so exhausted from this disease. I’ve even put my financial future on the line for my dear old dad. How crazy is that?
    Amy.

  62. Elle says

    This is what I typed in a search to try and find some kind of relief from my crushed spirit tonight: sensitive nature, people pleaser, devastated, help Christian. And look where I find myself! All the things you have described I also claim and I am grateful to find others in the same straits as myself and the possibility of some relief. Did anything horrific happen tonight to make me feel this way? No! Just a series of little coincidental blows that make me smaller and smaller until there is nothing left of critical, logical thinking. Everything rides on a word from someone else, or some other absurd qualifying factor to make my world right. Enough already. Thank you for your practical sense.

  63. Lena says

    Thank you so much for this post. I was reduced to tears throughout. I’ve just touched on my people-pleasing habits with my therapist and feel like I’ve worked out what was dragging me down for the last 10+ years (I’m 26 years old now).
    Thanks again :-)

  64. Anna says

    I’m confused…..whether I am a strong individualist or a people pleaser…., I do want people to like and accept me and I tend to do things for them , often when I can’t or don’t agree with a certain cituation but on the other hand I am this person who has her own strong opinions to teh point that I get in conflict my my coworkers. Just last nigt I thought how many people I got in conflict with, I seem to feel better worker when I don’t have to work with other people much. But still…I like to please them. So what’s wrong here with me?

    And also…., my boyfriend (12 years together) says yes to anyone and to everything excpt when it’s me who asks for a favour or for some fun together -going out, hiking, NOT watching TV, etc. So why is it that he ALWAYS says yes to other people and he ALWAYS does things for them, but all the “NOs” in his life I get to hear……………It’s so sad. HELP!

  65. destiny says

    Until tonight, i’ve assumed this was just a “soft spot” in my heart for my family. But when I laid down, thinking about what i’ve given up for them and how awful they have been to me, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’m too understanding, forgiving, and pleasing. I nearly had a nervous breakdown when my sister and father were not on speaking terms. Thank god they got over it after about 2 months because she found out she was pregnant. But now all I do is worry about when the next argument will take place. And they all lash out at me all the time. They tell me I act high and mighty like I never mess up or that I never do anything fun and they think I judge them for drinking and partying. So what do I do? I go out and drink and party a few weekends in a row. Seriously?!?!?!??! wtf. why do I give a shit what they think? Why can’t I stop worrying about what they think and stop coming to their rescue every effing time?!??!?!?!? and if you only knew what they have done to me….

  66. iris says

    Hi there, this is truly surprising for it is accurately myself. I am starting to realize these days that I am trying to please everyone. And it aint a good thing. Especially to my health due to stress. I even caused a major problem with my classmates for I couldn’t speak up directly how I feel, due to that I ended up hurting a lot of my classmates. What’s worse, I couldn’t even know how to decide things for myself in situations, for I think too much – that I might end up hurting them. (Which I already Had)

    And I even have this big sense of responsibility which is increasing my stress.

    I really want to end this but it is so hard.

  67. Hearts says

    Hello,
    thanks for this article..I have an issue of pleasing people too much even to the point that I’m afraid someone I know will read this and not seek for my help anymore…Its to the point I get depressed when people aren’t completely satisfied..and I’m learning that theres not point in completely satisfiying and pleasing people cous some people aren’t gonna be completely grateful..I have an issue with being too nice sometimes and afraid that people aren’t gonna like the real me. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting freedom but once I get attached I start relapsing to the same thing of wanting to please that person too much…and I get resentful on people’s ungrateful behavior..I feel like they sense that..and take advantage of the situation somtimes..I’ve had this sinse elementary school…Still have it..getting better but relapse..I have to be strong and know that if the person is my friend just because of what I do, its not a real friendship. I need to learn to say no more..thats not in my daily vocabulary. I Love being generous but theres a fine line between that and being a people pleaser. I know that and need to work on that. And I need to internalize and Love and be good to myself first in order to be generous and love others in a healthy way without fear of rejection…and ofcourse in my case God is always #1

  68. ThisISme says

    Thank you for this post. I just realized yesterday that i have “something” wrong with me. I go out of my way all the time for other people for them to walk all over me. I have given so much of myself to others and expect the same treatment in return, only to be let down….. I realized just yesterday that i have a void inside of myself that is fullfilled by making others happy…even if it means me not being happy. Why am i like this? I’ve been this way since i was a child not even realizing it.

    I feel like i’m a good godly lady and i work very hard. I see myself as prize, but i dont treat myself as one……. This article has made me think more about myself and what i need to do to overcome this. It’s just like a drug addiction. Take it one day at a time, and easy does it.

    Thank you!!!

  69. Youwishyouknew says

    Hi Eric,

    Thanks so much for this article. I personally related with so many of the points made and I definately have a People Pleaser personality problem. I found this article because today I realized what triggered some of my recent problems I’ve been having with Anxiety and Pure OCD. The trigger is sometimes a friend or family member asking for something… and then here comes the anxiety. lol This article really helped me think clearer about how to stop feeling like I needed to say ‘Yes’ all the time and start thinking about what my needs are.

    Thanks again!

  70. ct says

    Thank you so much for this article.

    I can also relate to so many points in it. I’ve only just recently realised that I am a people pleaser, and that in being so I’ve have become detrimental to myself and to my relationships. I think I have always been a people pleaser since my teens. Bending over backwards for my friends at every possible opportunity. This in time led to me being the YES person. Never missing a night out, always having my friends to my house when they never returned the favour. I’m an only child and my friendships are extremely important to me, I have a few different groups of friends, partly through wanting everybody i meet to like me and partly due to those different groups not interacting well with one another. A few years ago I would be out nearly every night so that I would never let anybody down when they wanted to meet up. Always feeling guilty when I said no. Then I met my current partner and I wanted to make time for our relationship. For the past two and a half years I have gradually been reducing my social life in order to spend quality time with my partner, however this has led to resentment from one group of friends (the ones I had spent the most time with) they have been so used to me saying yes all the time that now when I choose to say no they give me a hard time about it (we’re 30…these are not teenage girls I’m talking about). Instead of being happy for me they critise my relationship and tell me I’m a bad friend for not seeing them as much. This upsets and infuriates my partner as he feels they treat me unfairly and measure our friendship on time spent together instead of just the bond of friendship and closeness. It also upsets me, yet I still find myself seeking their approval and I can’t defend my corner very well as I don’t like arguing. I’m still at the point of feeling guilty all the time when I don’t meet up with them, even if its just for a walk. Your article has really given me hope. Its made me realise I’m not going mad and that I can improve my situation.

    The flavour discussion hit me hard as well. Thats something I’m terrible for in the company of my work collegues, always agreeing with others opinions.

    Thank you so much again, hopefully now I realise what I am I can start to turn a corner and learn to say NO!

  71. MH says

    This is such a helpful article! I am the queen of people pleasing and it’s a miserable business. I’ve recently agreed to something that I should have said “no thank you” to and now I am feeling frustrated. I can relate to not knowing who I really am!!!! I obsess over losing friendshipsover giving my real opinion and choices. My question is how do you back out of a commitmentas I am petrified of upsetting others. How does one li e an authentic life? I envy those who can make decisions based on their needs and dreams:(

  72. Sarah says

    I am a people pleaser and always have been since a little girl. It got so bad that I let a so call good friend take advantage of that without even realizing it. I noticed every time I would hang out with this person they would talk about money issues and all kinds of problems, until I gave in. After I gave her what she needed she wouldn’t talk to me until new or the same issues came up. One year I struggled a lot and sometimes would give my friend also cousin everything I could, sometimes I would end up using all my money, gas in the car and time to help her with these issues. I figured out that she was doing this game because she knew I would give in, I confronted her about it and she acted so considerate but would stop talking to me for awhile and then when we decided to hang out the cycle began again. So late last year I decided to walk away from this friendship after reading advice on toxic friends and other resources, she blew up at me and told me to F off. I did have some choice words during this whole ordeal but somethings were needed to be said. Early last year I got her a job and cosigned for her to get a car. Not one single day we were friends did she just come over. I use to have to beg for her to come by and she would only come by if I had dinner made or if there was alcohol in the house. I don’t drink so I would buy drinks to make people happy about coming by. Today I am totally free from this friendship the only thing that sucks is she is my cousin, so I still see her. I get nervous at family functions because the pain hurts. The last things she told me were awful, the F off thing and that she didn’t give a F about what I wanted or liked she only cares about what she wants. She said sorry for that and said she was drunk at the time and didn’t mean it. Well she meant it and I found out through her friends and in-laws that she only hung out with me because I had a car and most of the time money. Her husband even defended me and said she would have a good friend if she would quit treating me like S—t

    • Sarah says

      Forgot to mention her husband said this and doesn’t like me, well he doesn’t like most of her family. Plus was a friendship that went on way before highschool.

  73. says

    I am blown away by your concise explanation on this ugly problem i have suffered from 30 years son of a beach comber. Recently screwed by a couple friends? I now tell family and friends no no no sorry. Thank you for the enlightenment

  74. Lucy says

    I don’t please everyone but I care so much, too much, for the people that I value. I think I have codependency issues. Sometimes, when I help people, I don’t even know if it’s because I truly care for them or because I want some sense of control. It scares me to think that my original belief that I am a kind person is not true and that I’m just a selfish person who unknowingly manipulate people.

  75. Span says

    When I was growing up my dad was really angry, a lot. I’m short, diminutive, the runt of the litter so to speak. To “survive” I learned how to calm things down, read body language better then anyone, anticipate problems, and divert attention. This is how I’ve lived for nearly 30 years. Never make waves. Don’t make the father angry, ever.

    It doesn’t work in real life though.

    I thought I had this pretty much under control the past 9-10 years. I spoke my mind whether people liked it or not. If they got mad, then so be it, but I could stand my ground against even the most intimidating men. I was proud of who I was, happy with who I was. But I slipped up somewhere about 6-8 months ago… and fell back into that whole “OMG, everyone has to be happy!!” crap. I hate it. Utterly hate it.

    I’ve found some people are really great at exploiting a weakness in another. I read body language like super man can see through walls. I know what’s going on. I know when you lie, when it’s a half-truth. I knew they were lying, but I wanted to be liked. And It f’ing SUCKS to feel that way. I’m too damn old to do this anymore. Why didn’t I just call them on their b.s. back then. Any time there’s confrontation I start to shake like a leaf, my heart explodes through my chest, I can’t breath, my legs will barely hold me up. It’s horrible.

    I thought I had this beat… Its so demoralizing to realize this is a lifelong struggle.

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