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People Pleasing

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People Pleasing

What is it?

Well we’re all guilty of it, have been trapped by it, and no doubt some of us wish we had never heard of it…

So who are people pleasers? .. well actually they look like me and you, they are the most helpful people you will ever meet,  always coming to the rescue, those reliable souls who would do anything from rushing over to see you in the middle of the night to spending their days off looking after you….

So what’s wrong with that?… they sound like the perfect friend!

I suppose for me this was brought to light through discussions with friends, clients and colleagues – and I realised that it was a common scenario for a lot of people.. where they had fallen onto the treadmill of reliability! We try and help, be supportive and available but then one day realise that there’s no time, energy or even mental capacity left for me, does that sound familiar?

The Beginning….

From a young age we are conditioned to please others starting with our parents, siblings, and then our peers. As a result we become used to being rewarded.. which in turn makes us feel happy, accepted and safe.

So we grow up with this inherent need to please which is so deeply embedded in our minds that we actually forget that we have the power to question or challenge it when it doesn’t feel right.

This may not affect every relationship we ever have, but most people will one day experience that net of overwhelming need to keep everyone happy, regardless of how it’s affecting you and this can quite easily take over your mind.

So how do we notice it?..

It’s when you have allowed yourself to get in the habit of thinking that everyone else’s needs are more important than your own….and as a result you will sit back and watch your life, goals, dreams and sometimes even opinions start to fade into the background…

There are so many possible rationales behind how we actually let ourselves reach this stage… there are books, articles, and I’m sure long essays that could be written on the topic.

However for me, I think there are few things to think and analyse when approaching this crossroad..:-

  • The Rescuer – it’s easy to get in the habit of rescuing others but is this really essential?  Are we really helping? Or are we just taking people’s life lessons away and actually hindering their emotional journey to become who they wish to be?


  • Fear of failure or rejection – maybe sometimes it’s the fear of failure or rejection that keeps us trapped in situations that we would rather not be in.. what will happen if one day we don’t do  or say what we have always done?  But surely fear in any form should not be the foundations for having to please others?


  • Approval – if we constantly look for approval from others to validate our own existence or happiness – what happens when they are no longer a part of our life? Does this then mean that we will never be in a position to feel happy or fulfilled unless we are putting other people’s opinions before our own?

I think it’s a lovely concept to be able to help others, provide support, advice and listen…but not at the cost of neglecting your own needs. Not to the point where a flame of resentment starts to burn and it’s difficult to be honest with yourself.

Surely being honest with yourself about how you feel about situations, people and responsibilities should be a choice and not something that is forced or expected.

High levels of stress can occur when people find it difficult to say “No”, considering it’s usually the first word children learn when they are young, and it only has two letters, but using it has the biggest impact you can ever imagine.

By saying “No” you are in effect standing up for yourself, or at least attempting to. It’s about weighing up how you feel and whether by saying yes it will make you feel better?

I once read this quote which has always stayed with me:-

“If you never say No what is your Yes worth?” Anonymous

It’s important to set boundaries, make your own decisions, and have the courage to take a step back and analyse your feelings.

Remember just because something felt right last year, last month or last week, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it always will. So if one day you wake up and find it difficult to carry on take a step back and search deep inside your soul to find the courage to question yourself about your feelings… not anyone elses..

Recommended reading:-

The Top five Regrets of the Dying, Bronnie Ware

The first regret is

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected from me”