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Say No to Being a People Pleaser

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say no to people pleasing

I confess! I have been a people pleaser my entire life. I have focused on fulfilling the expectations of others ahead of my own. It causes stress, frustration, overwhelm, and can wreck your confidence.


Most people pleasers were conditioned to be that way as children. They would receive positive affirmations, love, encouragement, and all the positive emotions when they would do what pleases others. The child quickly equates their self-worth to their ability to keep others pleased with them while ignoring their wants and desires.


My Start as a People Pleaser


Growing up, I was conditioned to be a people pleaser. Life was peaceful when I kept others happy. It wasn't worth the ramifications to step out of line. When I was about 18, I made a life-changing decision in the name of people pleasing. I had wanted to be an architect since I was a little girl.


However, when it came time to declare my major, I people-pleasing sat down for a conversation in which I was told (and sold) that I should go into Business and Finance and the family business. It would greatly please everyone if I did that. And so I did.


An Adult People Pleaser


Fast forward about 15 years and I was still people-pleasing. When my son was about 8 years old, we planned a week in Ocracoke during his spring break. I notified everyone at the family business and officially took the week off.


However, I was quickly guilted that I was going to miss an important meeting. I was letting people down and disappointing them by not being a part of the meeting.


What did I do the day of the meeting while I was in Ocracoke with my husband and son? I got up at 4am, caught the 5am ferry, arrived to the mainland at 7:00, then drove two more hours to the office to make the meeting at 9:00.


Nothing pertinent occurred in the meeting and I turned around and drove 2 hours back to the ferry then made the 2 hour ferry ride back to Ocracoke. I was angry and frustrated and I had let my husband and son down because I was focused on making sure I kept everyone at work pleased with me.


That's the thing with people pleasers, we constantly let ourselves down and we generally let down the people most important to us because we already feel loved and accepted by them.


Misconception of People Pleasers


People pleasers get a reputation of being reliable and dependable. Therefore, people keep asking and taking but you can never do enough to satisfy everyone.


You begin to feel unappreciated and taken advantage of so you put your foot down. Then you get labeled as being unreasonable.


This label is triggering to a people pleaser, guilt sets in, and the people pleasing begins again on a whole new cycle.


Boundaries to Stop People Pleasing


While I still have tendencies to fall back into my people-pleasing mentality, I have to focus on my boundaries and what gets put in the Yes column and what gets put in the No column.


I have developed 5 questions I ask myself when evaluating if something I have been asked to do is going into the Yes column.


  1. Is this aligned with who I am and the person I am becoming? If there isn't alignment, then it goes into the No column.

  2. Is this the best use of my time? I relate this to opportunity cost in Economics. What will I have to give up to make room for this on my calendar? Which task is the best use of my time?

  3. Is this investing me in the right relationships? Who will I be surrounded by and what types of people will I be creating new relationships with? If these relationships aren't the type to support the best version of you, then the "No" column it's going to have to be.

  4. Will this matter in 5 years? Or 1 year? If you don't see long-term value being created then it is most likely not worth you doing.

  5. Will I be appreciated or taken advantage of? I don't mean this in a recognition way. I mean this in the gratitude way. When people are truly grateful for your help, it makes the experience much more meaningful and worthwhile.


If you struggle with saying no to others because you are a people pleaser, ask yourself these 5 questions before saying yes.


They will aid the logical part of your brain in taking over the decision-making process.


If you found this helpful, check out my freebies page where I have plenty of resources available such as my Habit Tracker or my Vision Board Template.

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