What Is A People Pleaser?

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Struggling to get things done but never seem to have enough time? It may be time to understand what is a people pleaser and determine if maybe you are one.

I must admit until very recently, I have been a people pleaser.

While it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it certainly didn’t get me any closer to my own goals in life.

In fact, I consumed so much time and energy on others that I had nothing left for myself.

I know, it wasn’t ideal, perhaps you can relate to what I am saying.

So lately, I am focusing on myself, working towards my goals and dreams.

Yes, I still help others, every chance I get, I just can’t help myself, which is what I like to do.

The difference is, now I focus on myself first and then help others.

I find myself so much happier, and much more positive and somehow I seem to have time for it all.

So what happened, what has made the difference?

Well, first we need to learn…

What Is A People Pleaser?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a people pleaser as:

  1. someone or something that pleases or wants to please others
  2. a person who has an emotional need to please others often at the expense of themselves

There is nothing wrong with trying to please others, I mean we love our family and friends and want the best for them and will often be willing to help them.

However, the help we offer to family and friends should not be at the expense of ourselves.

I don’t know why this took me so long to learn. I mean even my husband use to advise me that I give up my own plans to please someone else, but I would just keep on doing it.

What Are The Signs Of A People Pleaser?

Not sure if you’re a people pleaser?

Check out these signs and maybe you’ll recognize yourself in some of these.

I know I was quite surprised at how accurately these signs described me.

Low Self-esteem

For people-pleasers, their sense of self-worth is often dependent upon the approval of others.

You may believe that people can only care about you or love you if you are useful.

You need their praise in order to feel good about yourself.

I struggled with low self-esteem for most of my life. Thankfully, I am in a much better place now and can recognize and value my own worth.

Need Others To Like You

You often worry about rejection. This often leads to specific actions designed to keep people happy in order to avoid any sense of rejection.

What Is A People Pleaser - little sisters huggingYou have a strong desire to be needed, and believe that you have a better chance of receiving affection from people who need you.

You might give and give, hoping people will reciprocate with the affection and love you desire.

I had a big struggle when my kids all left home. When I should have been celebrating a job well done in raising them to be independent, I found myself depressed and not feeling needed any longer.

I am so grateful to be out of that phase now and I can see a whole world of opportunity now that I am not busy with the day-to-day of active parenting.

Oh, I’ll always be available should any of my children need a shoulder to cry upon or some advice but I intend to live my life for me and explore every opportunity that presents itself.

Can’t Say NO

You fear that saying “No” to someone or turning down a request by them will make them think you don’t care about them.

Many people-pleasers will agree to do something even when they don’t want to. The problem is that when you make a habit of this it is teaching others that their needs come before your own.

Some people will actually take advantage of this because they know you will always do what they want.

Again, this felt like it was describing me. I could never say no. I took on everything for everybody and then found myself struggling to complete the tasks and never had time for anything I wanted to do.

Thank God I have learned to say no sometimes. I can breathe much easier knowing I have the time to do a good job at the tasks I take on. I even have time to explore my own passions, which includes taking the training I needed to be able to write these blog articles for both our websites.

This is something I genuinely enjoy doing today.

Apologize When You’re Not Too BlameWhat Is A People Pleaser - man with hands together saying 'Sorry'

Do you always say “Sorry” even when it has nothing to do with you?

One incident I can think of occurred several years ago at Christmas time.

We always host Christmas at our house and the kids all come home with their families. Sounds wonderful I know and it is, but it is also a LOT of work.

I usually put the turkey in the oven on low the night before because we like our meal at noon and we all love to wake up to that wonderful smell.

Anyways this particular year, we had a big snowstorm on Christmas Eve and the power was out, and we weren’t sure how long it would be out for.

Our oldest son lived only a few blocks away and his power was still on.

I packed up the turkey and took it to his place to cook in his oven overnight, the whole time I was apologizing for needing to use his oven.

The next day the power still wasn’t on yet and I was apologizing to all the kids for having to leave to go get the turkey at my son’s place.

I had nothing to do with the power going out, yet here I was apologizing as though it were my fault.

The funny thing was, my husband would keep saying, “Why are you saying sorry? For what? You didn’t do anything wrong.

He’s right, no one complained and we had a great Christmas Dinner.

You Tend To Agree Even When You Don’t

Agreeability often seems like the surest way to win approval.

Have you ever experienced a time when your friends suggested doing something you really didn’t want to do but you found yourself saying “Great idea”?

Then you ended up having to go along and do this thing you had no interest in.

When you go along with something you don’t agree with, just to keep everyone happy, you can end up with a thoroughly frustrating and miserable day.

Struggle With Authenticity

A lot of time people-pleasers spend so much time doing what others want to do, they don’t recognize what they really like themselves.

Constantly pushing your own feelings and desires aside for others may cause you to become unable to recognize them.

You may not be able to voice the feelings you are aware of, even if you want to speak up for yourself.

Have you ever thought, “They didn’t mean it, so if I say something, I’ll only hurt their feelings?” When the fact is that they were the ones who hurt your feelings.

Yeah, I’ve done a lot of this through the years.

Thank God I have learned to speak up and if someone hurts my feeling I address it right then and there, I have a right to have my feelings acknowledged and validated.

You Are A Giver

Do you like giving to others?

Me too.

But what I really mean is do you give to others with the purpose of being liked?

Do you often do without things yourself in order to give to others?

Do you give and give, always hoping people will return the affection and love you desire?

Lack Of Free Time

Being extremely busy doesn’t necessarily mean you are a people-pleaser, take a look at how you spend your free time.

Ask yourself, ” When was the last time you did something just for yourself?”

After taking care of responsibilities, when was the last time you pursued a hobby or just relaxed?

If you can’t remember then you may be a people-pleaser.

Conflicts Upset You

What Is A People Pleaser - fist punching through glassPeople-pleasing often involves a fear of anger.

This seems to be a logical thought pattern. I mean, anger means someone is not happy, as a people-pleaser your goal is to make people happy. So, if someone is angry then you failed somehow.

In an attempt to avoid this anger you may rush in with an apology or offer to do whatever to make them happy, even when it isn’t you that they are angry with.

I struggled with this one too.

This is a powerful one to get over because there is so much emotion involved and you just want it to stop.

But the truth is, it’s ok when people are angry or upset with each other and as long as they are communicating they are working it out.

Thankfully I have learned where this all stemmed from and have been handling these situations a lot differently now and I am happier for it.

How It Affects You

It isn’t necessarily a negative thing to want to please others.

After all, we all want to do nice things for our family and friends right?

It becomes a problem when we sacrifice our own desires, dreams and even mental and physical health for others.

At times it’s even ok but when we consistently put others before ourselves it can have some rather devastating effects on us and our relationships.

FrustrationWhat Is A People Pleaser? - student biting on pencil looking at screen

Sometimes the people we continuously help and sacrifice for may notice and appreciate all our efforts but sometimes they don’t.

Over time, they may take advantage of you, maybe even unintentionally, but they may not realize you are making sacrifices for them.

In either case, being nice while having ulterior motives can build resentment and cause passive-aggressive behaviour.

People Will Use You

Some people will quickly recognize and take advantage of people-pleasers.

They may not know what it is called but they easily recognize someone who will do whatever they ask. Of course, you keep saying yes and the destructive pattern is set.

This puts you at a heightened, financial and emotional risk of potential abuse.

As a parent, being a people-pleaser could have detrimental effects on your parenting skills.

For example, you may allow your child to doge responsibilities because you want them to like you. Unfortunately, this prevents them from learning valuable life skills. It may keep them happy at the moment but eventually, they will have some very hard life lessons to learn.

Relationships Are Unsatisfying

Strong, healthy relationships involve a lot of giving and take. You do nice things for one person and they do nice things for you. No matter the relationship it’s a win-win relationship.

Relationships won’t be very fulfilling if you are the only one giving and the other person never reciprocates or acknowledges the things you are doing.

For the relationship to thrive, you must also receive. There has to be a balance or one will feel like they are been used.

What Is A People Pleaser? - woman with hands to side of templesYou’re Totally Stressed

When you take on more than you can handle from others it creates an abundance of stress.

Not only do you lose time for yourself but you also lose time to do the necessary things you need to do.

In an attempt to get the bare essentials taken care of you may find yourself working longer hours or going without sleep either from worry or having to work to get it done.

Eventually, the physical consequences of worry and stress will appear in your life.

Friends And Family Are Frustrated With You

Your partner may notice how you agree with everyone or apologize for things you didn’t do. It’s very easy to fall into the habit of helping others so much you risk your other important relationships.

People-pleasing can backfire when you do so much for others that you take away their ability to do things for themselves.

Sometimes you may lie or stretch the truth to save a loved one’s feelings. This can only be harmful in the long run.

Where Does It Originate?

There is no single cause of why some people become people-pleasers.

It could be an accumulation of many things.

Past TraumaWhat Is A People Pleaser? - bruised eye with tears

Sometimes people-pleasing can be the result of a response to fear from a trauma.

If you have experienced trauma as a result of a child or partner abuse you may not have felt safe maintaining certain boundaries.

You may have learned it was safer to do what others wanted and put their needs and wishes before your own.

By pleasing you made yourself likable and safe.

Self-esteem Issues

Messages learned from your early caregivers may be difficult to erase.

If you have learned to be safe and likeable by pleasing others you will likely carry this forward until you do the work to undo that message.

Fear Of Rejection

If you had a parent or caregiver who offered approval and love based on your behaviour then you likely learned rather quickly to make them happy.

In order to avoid punishment if you did something wrong, you learned to always do what they wanted, in many cases before they even asked you.

Overcoming It

Recognizing that you are in fact a people-pleaser is a significant first step.

We need to identify when these types of behaviours show up in our lives.

Once we notice when we are doing it then we can begin to work on alternative behaviours.

Take it one step at a time.

Show Kindness When You Mean It

There is nothing wrong with practicing kindness, providing your reasons is just to be kind.

Showing kindness should never come from a place of needing approval.

Anytime you find yourself considering offering help, take a moment and consider your motives.

Ask yourself, “Does the opportunity to help this person bring me joy?”

Will I feel resentful if the kindness isn’t reciprocated?

If your motives are pure then go ahead and offer help if it will truly bring you joy just to do so.

Put Yourself First

It takes energy and emotional resources to be there for someone else. Remember, you need to take care of yourself first so you have the resources to help others.

Think of the safety speech in an airplane. “Place your oxygen mask on yourself, then assist your child or nearby person with theirs.

There is a very good reason for that advice.

Remember, putting your own needs first is not selfish, it is healthy.

Set BoundariesWhat Is A People Pleaser? - set boundaries

Setting boundaries is important because it is how we tell others how to treat us.

If we never say no, never put ourselves first, then we are essentially telling people:

  •  “I am not important and you can take advantage of me.”

Setting boundaries is an important step in overcoming people-pleasing behaviours.

Before agreeing to something ask yourself:

  • How do you really feel about doing this thing? Are you looking forward to it or are you dreading it?
  • Do you have time to take care of your own needs first? Will you have to skip your precious free time or neglect some necessary chore?
  • How will helping make you feel? Will you feel happy or resentful?

Wait Until They Ask

I get it, you are always offering to help, you’ll clean the office lunchroom, or offer suggestions when your friend has some problem.

Why not practice holding off until someone actually asks for help before you jump in with a solution.

Try just listening rather than offering advice. It could be that the person only needed to vent.

Talk To A Therapist

Breaking long-term habits can be very difficult.

A qualified therapist can help you explore why you need to be a people-pleaser so you can work through those emotions before trying to break the habit.

They can be a wealth of information and ideas on how to break the habit and start putting yourself first.

How I Make A Living Online

I hope you found some good tips in my article What Is A People Pleaser.

Being kind and helping others is great, just take care of our own needs first.

Help others for an ulterior motive is not good.

Your self-esteem should never be linked to someone else’s opinion.

It’s time to STOP being a people pleaser and do the things you want to do.

It’s time to start thinking about your dreams that you want to do or become.

It is possible to learn to set boundaries and live a more healthy lifestyle as I have done.

To learn about becoming a blogger as I do then click here to learn about the training that got me started.

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8 thoughts on “What Is A People Pleaser?”

  1. Wow! This is definitely an interesting idea. I did not know there was such thing as someone who could be identified as a people pleaser. But after the points that you have meat here I can see that it is actually a thing End it is not necessarily a good thing either. If I didn’t read this article I wouldn’t have realized that I myself am a people pleaser. Thank you for the eye-opener

    • You are very welcome Misael. I know it becomes a shock to oneself the moment they realize that they are a people pleaser. One believes they are such a nice person for going out of their way to take care of people especially before themselves; only to find out they are a terrible person to themself.

      And when one cuts back and becomes selective to the things they are going to do to help others, people seem to like you more for who you are and not what you do.

      Thank you so much for dropping by and sharing your experience with us Misael.

      I wish you all the best.

  2. The article explains about the people pleaser so well and so informative if you are talking about me. I did not realize that was a people pleaser can be so bad impact to myself.

    I am a man and a husband, why all the housework I have to do except cooking I do not know how to do after I have retired. After I joined WA, I have a lot of plans to do, but the houseworks keep pulling me away from my website job. One week I can write one post only because I am busy feed the dog and cat, go shopping with the list, buy packed food, clean the floor, and take care the garden.

    You are absolutely right, I need to tell my family members, I have dreams and job of my own, they have to do some of their duties. I don’t mind taking care, dog, cat and garden which I know none of them like it except me.

    I really thankful to your excellent article, giving me a lot of ideas to talk to my wife and children, and it seems 

    • Thank you for dropping by and sharing your thoughts. I get it, it’s a shock to know that, all this time you were thinking that you were so helpful to others, which you were, but at the sacrifice of your own desires and dreams. How about just having some time to relax which there never seems to be anytime for.

      Yes, you need to sit the family down and tell them you have plans which you are very interested in carrying out. All the work within a household belongs to everyone living there and will be shared among all. When you share the workload, ensure it is changed regularly like every week so no one gets stuck with the bad choice.

      My husband came up with the idea one day because he noticed I needed help. Of course, I said I didn’t at the time, I didn’t want the kids to do the housework, I felt it was my responsibility. It helped a lot and one day I mentioned that I take the time to wash the daughter’s clothes, fold them and put them on her bed for her. The daughter was so lazy she could even bother to put it away, she put it in the hamper again. I felt so insulted, I was really hurt by it.

      My husband said he would take care of it. And he did, he got all the kids together and said that laundry is now a part of the chores as well thanks to your sister. Of course, he gave them a long speech about being thankful for the things others do for you so it doesn’t come back and bite you.

      Remember, it’s not about if they like it or not, our kids even cleaned the toilet and it turned out that some of them preferred it over other chors so don’t judge just hand out the chores.

      I wish you all the best in your family’s new life experience. You will see it will help your family grow stronger and appreciate each other more. I know ours still do today and they have all moved away with not a single regret.

      With more time to spend on your online business, you should see that prosper as well because you need to at least put up 2 articles a minimum of a week or it will take too long for things to happen for you.

      Thanks again for leaving your comment,

      Take care now.


  3. Hi Deborah,

    We all should indeed put ourselves first so that we can make ourselves happy then make others happy. I remembered I was acting as a people pleaser in high school, but it was the most unhappy time in my life. After the struggle, I start practicing focusing on myself than others. I ignored others’ opinions, and once I’ve done that, I could do things that really matter to me. That’s why I could relate to your sharing today, and your ways of overcoming this issue do work based on my personal experience. So, I am sure people will find great value & support in this article.


    • Good day to you Matt, I appreciate you dropping by today. It does seem to be a trap a lot of people fall into in order to be liked and prevent trouble. The last thing a people pleaser wants to do is cause someone to be upset or angry with them.

      But the truth is that not everyone will agree with each other and our opinion counts just as important and maybe every more important. That we never know until we speak up and say our piece but in a proper manner of course.
      That is what discussions are about, different people’s opinions which is quite natural.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts Matt.
      I hope you have a great day.

  4. Although I don’t consider myself a people pleaser now, in my twenties I had trouble saying no to people, for fear of causing conflicts, but that was because of the way I was raised. At home I’d constantly hear “What will people think?!” “What will the neighbors think?!” All the time, and so it took me a few years to learn to say no. People will leave once you do that, but the ones who leave are the ones who have been taking advantage of you, so there is no big loss there.
    People pleasers will be taken advantage of, unfortunately. Learning to say no is important. I always help when I can, but I will not sacrifice my own mental health or time for it. It’s true that in a relationship it’s a give-give situation. If only one gives and the other takes, it can’t work, and the giver will feel emotionally drained. Both partners should give.

    • Hi Christine, I also remember everyone worrying about what others would think and perhaps at one time it was important to worry about. I know of some people that were burned at the stake for witchcraft or any other BS that someone who didn’t like you made up.

      Thank goodness we don’, or shouldn’t have to worry about that now because it is important to your own health and success to stand up to your rights and speak out about things.

      Thanks for dropping and leaving a comment today Christine I appreciate it.


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