How to Stop Being a People Pleaser: 7 Effective Habits

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what people think of you if you recognized how infrequently they do.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

“When you say “yes” to others, be sure you aren’t saying “no” to yourself.”
Paulo Coehlo

When you become locked in the practice of being a people pleaser then it may have a subtle and harmful impact.

Not only on you but also on the people around you.

So when you attempt to impress the other people in your life:

You put on a mask and try to guess what to do while getting anxious and stressed.
You sometimes feel taken advantage off by others who use your people pleasing habit and you often feel out of tune with what you yourself deep down want.
It may also have an unexpected impact on other people as they may see through your mask, start to feel your inner anguish and worry themselves and become confused or angered because they think you are not being honest and forthright with them.

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So trying to please others pretty much all the time is often an even worse choice that one may at first think.

So how can you modify this tendency and quit becoming a people pleaser?

This week I’d like to offer 7 significant thoughts and behaviors that have helped me with that.

1. Understand that with certain individuals it isn’t about you and what you do (no matter what you do) (no matter what you do).

Some individuals simply can’t be satisfied. No matter what you do.

Because it’s not about what you do or do not do. It’s about him or her.

Explain how she’s having a rough month, a sick pet or doesn’t have a good chemistry with you.

Or about him being in an unhappy marriage, in too much debt or having a tooth ache that just won’t stop.

By realizing this and how you in the end can’t get everyone to like you or avoid conflict no matter what you do you can start to let go of this ineffective and damaging habit.

2. Learn how to say no.

When you prefer to please then it’s of course hard to say no.

Yet it is crucial for you personal happiness, stress-levels and for living the life you actually desire.

These are 5 things that have made it easier for me to say no more often:

Disarm and declare your need.

It's easier for people to accept your no if you disarm them first.

Do that by, for instance, saying that you’re flattered or that you appreciate the kind offer.

Then add that you, for example, just don’t have the time for accomplishing what they ask.

If they’re pushy, add how you feel.

Explain that you don’t believe that this offer is a suitable match for your life right now.

Or that you feel overwhelmed and very busy and so you cannot do whatever they want.

Telling someone how you honestly feel might enable them to understand your side of the situation better. And it’s also a lot tougher to argue with how you feel rather than what you believe.

Help out a little.

If feasible, complete your reply by suggesting someone who you believe might assist out or would be a better match for what they require.

I do this quite often when I feel I lack the knowledge or experience that a reader or a friend is looking for.

Remind yourself why it is important to sometimes say no: You teach people by how you behave.

They learn about you and your boundaries from your behavior.

So if you stand up for yourself and say no and be aggressive about what you don’t want then others will start to pick up on it.

And over time you’ll experience less and fewer circumstances when someone attempts to be forceful or steamroll you.

It’s OK to feel a bit guilty about saying no (but you don’t have to act on it).

Just feel it and be with that feeling for a while.

But at the same time recognize that it doesn’t imply that you have to act on it and say yes or do what they want you to do.

3. Reminder: People don’t actually care that much about what you say or do.

Holding yourself back in life and trying to act in a way that is pleasing to others can, in my experience, to a large part come from a belief that people care a great deal about what you say or do.

Yet the fact is that although you may be the major character in your own life and mind you’re not that in other people’s lives.

Because here’s the thing: people have their hands full with thinking and worrying about their own lives.

They have their brains filled with ideas about their kids, profession, pets, interests, goals and fears or thoughts about what others may think of them.

This knowledge might make you feel less significant. Yet it may also set you free.

4. Understand how to manage criticism and verbal lash outs (and the dread of that) (and the fear of that).

Tip #1 in this article is one thing that’ll help you to handle criticism and the fear of it.

Because sometimes it’s simply about the other person and his or her situation in life right now and not about what you did or did not do.

A few more things that help me to handle negative or critical messages are:

Wait before you respond.

Take a couple of deep breaths in a conversation or a few minutes if you’re in front of your inbox.

By doing so you’ll reduce the risk of lashing out yourself or making a mistake. Calming yourself down a bit before replying is pretty much always a good idea.

Remember: you can let it go.

You don’t have to reply to all the negative messages you may get via email, social media or in real life.

You can just say nothing, let it go and move on.

This does of course not work in every scenario but it’s crucial to remember that you from time to time do have this choice.

It’s Alright to disagree.

This took me time to really get.

Because I wanted to draw folks to my side. To make someone see things the way I did.

But it’s also OK to simply have different opinions about things. And to leave it at that.

I noticed that life got lighter and easier when I began to adopt this notion and attitude.

5. Establish limits for yourself.

If you say no to yourself, if you establish a few strong limits for yourself then it will over time become easier to do the same for other people too.

And these limitations might also assist you to concentrate better on what means the most to you.

A handful of my everyday ones that have helped me with both of those things are:

A start-time and a stop-time for work. I don’t work before 8 in the morning and my work computer is shut off – at the latest – at 7 in the evening.
Work in a no-distraction zone. I keep email notifications and messaging programs off. And my smart phone is on quiet mode at the opposite end of our house.
Just check email once a day. Otherwise it’s easy for me to lose concentration and to have too many things swimming around in my head when working.

6. Improve your self-esteem.

Why’s this important?

So, with a self-esteem toolbox loaded with useful behaviors you’ll respect yourself and thus your time and energy more and so it’s becomes more natural to say no when you need to.

And criticism and bad remarks will bounce off of you more readily and frequently.

Additionally, you’ll be less focused with getting everyone else to like you all the time.

So now you like and respect yourself more and your dependent upon what others may think or say reduces substantially.

7. Maintain your focus on what YOU want out of your life.

If you know what’s most important to you and you maintain your concentration on it each day then you’ll automatically start to say no and stop being so people pleasing.

Because now your energy and time is mostly focused on your needs and wants.

You’re not just drifting along anymore without a clear focus (which is great because when you lack that then it’s easy to fall into the trap of just going along with what someone else wants).

But how can you do this practically?

Well, fine-tuning what you deep down want might take some time. Yet a solid start is this…

Step 1: Ask yourself: what’s the top 3 most essential things in my life right now?

It could be your little company. Your family. Your profession, health, puppy, photography hobby, soccer, increasing your social life or simplifying your house. Maybe something else.

Step 2: Add 1-3 reminders.

Put down your top 3 most significant items on a little piece of paper. Then place it on your bedside table so you see it first thing every morning.

You may also write 1-2 additional notes with the same answers to for instance post on your fridge and at your desk.

An effective alternative to paper notes is to use a reminder app on your smart phone (I use the free Google Keep app for my reminders every day) (I use the free Google Keep app for my reminders every day).

These two easy actions have helped me a lot to keep my priorities clear and to remind myself of them every day so I don’t start to wander too far from what means the most to me.