Exposing your inner people-pleaser self and how to overcome it

Hi, my name’s Aimee and I am a recovering people-pleaser. It took me years to realize I had the disease to please. Once I recognized it, I crashed. I was utterly drained. My guess is, you are too.

Here’s the thing, when you’re a people-pleaser, it’s all-consuming. If you’re in denial, you may not agree with me, frankly you probably think you’re simply an exceptional friend who resembles a super hero. I hate to break it to you, but you’re not a super hero. There’s a fine line between being a great friend and feeling like you owe every ounce of energy to anyone who asks, or doesn’t ask for that matter, something of you. When you spend most of your time over committing and worrying about what everyone else wants to do/be/go/thinks, you’ve lost your identity and officially become a doormat. In the worst way, you’ve lost your independence in regards to what you stand for. That, in and of itself, will eventually give you so much anxiety you will crash and burn, much like I did.

So why do so many of us fall into the habitual, self-sabotaging practice of people pleasing?

It’s simple. We want to be liked, loved and accepted. This brings out the need to become submissive to our own desires in attempts of avoiding the false notion of potential rejection. Well, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is, when you live your life putting others on a pedestal, allowing them to make all the decisions because you’ve lost your voice, you attract people who are okay with taking advantage of that. The good news? People are mostly good and if you respectfully hold a stance on something or take the lead, they not only accept it, but they appreciate it. Friends, family and significant others are in your life to share it, not be it. If you take anything away from this, it should be that.

How to quit being a people pleaser?

1. Stop treating people like you owe them something. 

Stop giving and giving and giving and giving. This behavior stems from the insecurity that you may be replaceable or won’t be loved if you don’t throw yourself at the feet of everyone. It’s such a disgusting lie that people-pleasers come to believe and it’s down right unhealthy. In fact, as a recovered people-pleaser myself, seeing from the opposite perspective, it’s unattractive. I don’t know one solid human being who truly desires someone who behaves like a little brother, doing anything and everything to make that person happy, even if it means making himself/herself miserable. Relationships (all versions of them) are meant to be a give and take; 50/50. So throw out any other idea you may have in your head. And while you’re at it…throw the people who treat you like owe them something out too.

2. Learn a balance.

I promise you, when you spend all of your time saying yes to everything, you aren’t capable of being 100% present during the times your friends need you most. Learning when to say yes and when to decline, is one of the healthiest habits you can develop, both for your own life and the people in it. Balance is key to emotional, physical and overall wellbeing. I used to say yes to every event/hosting opportunity presented to me. Deep down, I despise hosting events. I don’t even like cooking or decorating. Regardless, I would find myself doing these things to make others happy. There is certainly a time and place when you must compromise and step up to the plate, but there are also other ways to contribute. I typically bring the wine these days. Find your balance. The world is not going to crumble if you don’t have a hand in every aspect of an event you’re a part of.

3.  Practice saying no.

This doesn’t mean become a selfish brat or develop a new attitude of “my way or the highway”. It simply means, go through life being the best version of yourself without compromising your own desires and self-respect. It’s okay to say no. If you don’t want to go to dinner with the group on a Thursday night, you can say no without sitting on your couch seeping of guilt.

A lot of #3 has could have been combined with step #2, but in a people-pleaser’s world, it’s very different. Regardless of how deep you’re rooted in this lifestyle, you always know when you feel like you’re being taken advantage of. Learn to embrace saying no when that is the case. Saying yes, is a really admirable quality, but not when lack of respect and appreciation is on the receiving end. Those people are grown adults and can accomplish such tasks on their own. You’re actually helping them out, because you’re forcing them to take action instead of letting others pick up the pieces.

“I can’t tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” – Ed Sheeran

When push comes to shove, remember this; you aren’t a super hero. You’re goal in life is not to win the hearts and minds of the entire world. You can’t please everyone. It’s not your responsibility to put in all the work in every relationship. If you lose someone because you’ve decided to quit being a slave to the need of validation, their loss – your gain.  Remain true to yourself while keeping the beautiful qualities of love, grace and giving which got you started down the rabbit hole in the first place. Those qualities are what make you an awesome person, but all in moderation. 🙂


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A 33 year old Nashville female who loves Jesus and looks at life for what it is; messy and beautiful. After writing for Christian magazines and nonprofit blogs, Balanced Chaos came to life when she realized the world needed a raw dose of reality.

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