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  • Writer's pictureMagda

5 Tips to Stop Being a People-Pleaser!

Being a people pleaser doesn’t mean you serve in the best interest for yourself or others. I believe it means the complete opposite. When you think about it, people-pleasing is essentially lying.

If you agree to do something that you don’t feel like doing. You said Yes, but really you meant or wanted to say No. That’s a lie.

If you agreed with the opinion of another when you didn’t think that at all, by agreeing with it, you’re essentially lying to yourself.

These things create a false image of who you actually truly are and can be detrimental to your relationships.

People pleasing can become an addiction. The more times you say “yes” to someone the harder it will be to say "no" . People-pleasing is something that I believe we learn in our childhood, it definitely has a big connection to how we were brought up and I have a short story to tell about that.

I have very few memories from my childhood but the ones I do remember are truly instilled in me, they mostly relate to self-belief, determination and ambition. Even though my parents may not have used these phrases directly while talking to me I remember my mother saying phrases like “You’ve got to stand your ground” “You’ve got to practice what you preach” “it’s OK to say no” throughout my childhood. I was never afraid to voice my opinions about my beliefs (excluding my curfew times in my teen years which was never up for questioning). I was never afraid to ask questions about why I have to do something and why it’s not OK to say no. My parents always took the time to explain to me the do’s and don’ts of certain situations. They told me what they thought was right and wrong based on their beliefs however they also made sure that I remained open-minded as passing certain beliefs from one generation to another can become a tradition that in the future we may not be so proud of (the history books can vouch for that!). My upbringing, being open-minded and learning how to actively listen to others, allowed me to say yes or no without feeling good or bad about it. All of that taught me how to be myself without having to try hard to please others or without having to seek external validation.

I trust no one will find this example offensive in any way but it stuck in my memory as I had a direct comparison to my best friend at the time.

I remember it like it was yesterday when I said to my mum I don’t want to go to Church anymore, she said ok, it’s your choice but can you give me a reason for this? When I explained to her that I believe I can be with God anywhere in the world and it doesn’t have to be in a Church, she took my point and told me I am old enough to make my own decision as long as I am sure that it’s the right thing for me. She also said that the Church isn’t going anywhere and I can come back whenever I want.

When a friend of mine said the same thing to her father, he snapped and said “Don’t even think about it! Go to your room and reevaluate what you said!”. Looking at it all from the perspective of an adult, I can see that a lot of the people I had around me as a teen were moulded into people pleasers by their parents, other family members or boyfriends/girlfriends. A lot of them were not able to voice their opinions, always had to say yes and doing what they were told was the key to happiness even if it hurt their spirit! If they did the opposite they would be met with anger, rejection or difficulties in their relationships with the people involved. Fast forward 15 years from these dramatic circumstances and my very good friend is still a people pleaser.

Right now, she isn’t only making sure that her father is satisfied with everything she does and does everything he asks for, she also does a lot of other things too.

A few examples…

- She said yes 3 times to a relationship which was dead 2 months after it started as she didn’t think the guy would survive without her.

- She said yes to a promotion at work which she really didn’t want as she struggled with work-life balance but she agreed to it because she didn’t want to disappoint her boss who she doesn’t even like.

- She said yes to a Friday night out even though she had planned to do yoga at 6am on Saturday.

- She said yes to the holiday with friends which she could not actially afford and which resulted in extra debt that she is still paying for.

- She said yes to babysitting her nephews so that her brother and his wife could go out despite the fact that she ended up cancelling a date that she was really looking forward to.

- She agreed with a statement of a homophobic person on a bus stop even though her best friend is gay.

- She didn’t ask for the money that her colleague owes her because she didn’t want to be rude so she used her overdraft instead.

She has been dimming her light for most of her adult life. Her mind is continuously going around in circles, asking questions how to be liked, how to be polite and how not to hurt others, how to be nice to them and how to keep everyone else happy. She did not realise that saying NO to someone, doesn't mean that you're hurting another, it doesn't meant that people will not t like you anymore, it just means that you are choosing to say YES to yourself first.

When she came to me for advice, she was deflated. She was a “Yes Woman” for most of her life.

My answer was pretty simple:

“You should be pleasing no one else but you!”

Yes, it may sound selfish and I know what you might be thinking. Being selfish isn’t right! Or is it?

If you choose to prioritise yourself, your wants and needs above others, you'll realise that you'll be more willing to help and do things for them because it will come from that genuine place of love. It's almost as if feeling your best self because you know you took care of yourself, then you get to be so much more open to help others. It's as if you nurture yourself more!

Saying YES to yourself, doesn't mean you'll hurt someone, it also doesn't make you a bad person. I fully understand that you may feel that saying YES all the time makes you a nice person, but have you considered being nice to yourself too?

Prioritise yourself because you will spiral into a web of YES MAN or YES WOMAN which in turn will become an addiction or a habit. We all know they are really hard to break and require a fair bit of work and repetition! Don’t worry, this is where I come in! Here are the tips I shared with my friend and continue sharing with my clients. I wanted to share them with you too as I think it’s super important that you give yourself some love!

1.    Start small.

Saying a small no is easier than just saying no. If a friend asks you for a night out on a Friday that you just do not feel like doing but your people-pleasing self needs to say yes, try saying “I can do a coffee right after work but have to be home by 7”. You won’t feel guilty then because you offered an alternative option. We’ve got to start with small NO’s to be able to practice the big ones.

2.    Take your time.

As people pleasers the first response that your brain comes up with to any question, favour or request is “OK!” or “Sure!” and then straight after blurting that out you feel bad as it’s not what you wanted.  Remember that you don’t have to respond to a question or a request straight away. It’s ok to say “Let me get back to you”. This gives you the time to think about whether or not you want to do something. Better yet, you can choose to respond via text message which makes any response even easier as you do not actually have to face the person you are responding to.

3.    Internal Validation

Most people pleasers agree to most things they do because they are looking for validation and appreciation from external sources. They like the idea of feeling needed but what they don’t realise is that it makes them rely on external factors far too much. Seek internal validation instead of external. Ask yourself if what you’re about to agree to is what you want, if the answer is yes go ahead, but make sure it comes from you, not from your old patterns.

4.    Stop saying sorry!

You do not have to apologise when you say no to something. You have not done anything wrong. There is no need to feel bad that you chose yourself over something else.

5.    Identify the people you please the most.

I am sure as you were reading this blog post, you thought about someone more than once. A person you have been pleasing for an extended period. It’s important to know who these people are to make sure that you stay on guard in the future or so that you can avoid the situations in which they can “use you” again as the likelihood is, they know that you won’t say NO!

I am sure you can try these a few of these little tips! I would be super happy to talk to you about this so feel free to drop me an email with your story and let me know if the tips above helped you in any way!

Love & Light,




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