Are you a people pleaser?

  • Do you say yes when you mean no?
  • Do you go along with a group to avoid conflict?
  • Do you feel responsible for how other people feel?
  • Do you apologize often?
  • When someone is upset with you, do you try to “make it right” even if that means that you go against your values?
  • Do you tell people when you’re disappointed in them or their actions?
  • Do you stick up for yourself when you feel you’ve been wronged?

The above behaviors are harmful for us and for those we’re in relationship with. Our relationships are dis-connected and we feel flatlined in life. Why? Because when we’re people pleasing, we’re lying to everyone, including ourselves. Sure, it isn’t a malicious lie as it stems from a lack of self esteem but it doesn’t serve anyone.   People pleasers would rather lie than tell the truth about their honest feelings, even something as banal as telling someone where they want to go for lunch.

No One Understands Me

When you are acting in a way so as to please others, the relationships you form are not ones based on truth or authenticity. This leaves you feeling as if no one understands you or that no one “gets” the real you. Hard truth? They don’t. But this isn’t a fault of theirs. How could they know the real you? How could they really understand you? You aren’t showing them the real you. You’re not people pleasing, dear reader. You’re people deceiving.

When you are people pleasing, or people deceiving, it feels awful. You feel disconnected from life as if, no one “gets” the real you. Further, what kind of message are you sending to yourself if you’re constantly lying to yourself and to others? You are telling yourself that your opinion doesn’t matter. You are telling yourself that the other person’s needs come before yours. You are telling yourself that you don’t matter as much as others. Your happiness, your interests, your desires aren’t important enough to share with those close to you.

People pleasing behavior is toxic and is usually rooted in a series of deep beliefs that have been reinforced your whole life.  A belief that we need other’s love to fit in. A belief that what others think of us is truth. A belief that we are lovable if others tell us we are. It comes from us looking externally for approval instead of internally. People pleasing behaviors run deep in our blood. Entire books have been written on the subject and I will not begin to I will not be addressing them all in this episode but this month I am giving you the tools to get started.  

The posts and podcasts this month build on each other. Last week we discussed two tools to form a foundation as we stop pleasing others before ourselves. If you haven’t listened yet, go back because those two tools are foundations for the rest that we will discuss. As we move forward, it’s important to add tools to our backpack arsenal because this tendency to look to others for their opinion is hardwired into our DNA and takes a good arsenal of tools to reprogram. 

Here are four more tools as we begin to move away from caring what others think and giving more weight to what we think:


Don’t groan, it’s true. 

Stopping to feel grateful helps us move away from caring what others think about us in two significant ways. First, in recognizing what we have and what we do well, we build confidence in ourselves and our decisions. This confidence helps us build some armor around others’ opinions and criticisms. We worry about what other people think when we’re not feeling confident in ourselves. When we doubt our decisions or our actions, we find things to think about to beat ourselves up. 

Second, focusing on gratitude brings us back to the present moment and allows us to focus on what matters to US in our lives, not what matters to our neighbor or parents. Does it matter if our mother thinks our daughter’s haircut is unflattering? Not when she’s standing next to me helping me clean up from dinner. Does it matter that my parents think my son’s choice of future study is not what they agree with? Not when I’m focus on feeling grateful that my son has choices and freedoms and priveldge. Does it matter if my neighbors think my version of “lawn care” is sub par? Not when I’m comfortable with it and I focus on the safe shelter my house provides.


Practice speaking up in minor ways. When your BFF asks where you want to go for lunch, actually tell her (gasp!). When you read about a new local place you’d like to visit, tell your spouse and put it on the calendar. And yes, that nervous feeling in your stomach just thinking about doing these things? That’s a sign you’re on the right path! Yay you! I know it isn’t a comfortable feeling but view it as you strengthening your “I Matter” Muscle. When we work out a new muscle at the gym we will experience discomfort. That doesn’t mean something’s gone wrong. Rather, it means that we’re getting stronger and that’s exactly what happens internally when you begin to change old behaviors. As I went into last week, this stuff is hardwired into our brain: the need to people please, to stay small, to not speak up, to not rock the boat. Expect discomfort as you change old patterns. That’s why this tool is magical: Start small, with comfortable relationships. But start. Speak up. What do you want for dinner? What do you want to do in the morning?


Yep, it’s exactly as it sounds. Go stand in front of a mirror and practice sticking up for yourself. Again, expect this to feel uncomfortable but know that’s all the more reason to do it. Expect your brain to tell you it’s dumb and you don’t need to practice (and that you certainly don’t need to practice in front of a mirror!) Choose to disagree with that brain. Your brain likes to be comfortable and do what it’s always done. The reason you’re resisting doing this is because you know it will be uncomfortable. Let’s change our relationship with discomfort to seeing it as something to move towards; as the ticket to our growth. If you want life to be different, you have to be different in your life. Mirror work is great practice for beginning to stand up for yourself. When we look at ourselves it can feel vulnerable. That’s ok. We will work on your relationship with yourself in the next several podcasts. For now, practice saying no in front of the mirror. Practice speaking up for yourself in front of the mirror. 

Here are some things you can practice saying:

Thanks for thinking of me but no.
I will pass on this one.
Actually, I’d rather …
Nope, that’s a family night for me.
That won’t work for me.
I’ll get back to you.
I’d rather not.
That makes me uncomfortable.
I would rather….

When learning how to better say no, keep it brief, avoid apologies, and be truthful. In general, please be aware that you move more into people pleasing and white lying the more talking you do: “I can’t because I’m going to my great aunt betty’s socially distant pool party and need to bring s’more bars.” Yeah, right. Use this mantra: Brief is better. 


Sometimes we are too deep into the “What if she thinks this” or the “I wonder what he’ll think if…” to use the first three tools. If that’s the case, turn your brain off and get up and move.

Run up the stairs one time.
Stick your head out the window and take some deep breaths of fresh air.
Go lock yourself in the bathroom and take three deep breaths.
Change your surroundings, even if for 10 seconds.
Do not go on social media to see the perfect lives others are pretending to live.
Do not go lie in bed and think of all the other things that are going wrong in your life.
Do not call a friend to complain.
Get out of your head and into your body.
Weed your garden.
Rearrange your garbage and recycling bins.
Fold laundry.
Sweep the floor.
A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Just do it.


There you have it, four more ways to get started today. Let’s go Warriors. Spend your energy being yourself instead of being the self others want you to be. When you are showing up as your true self, not only do you benefit (your mental and physical health) but the the people around you also benefit.

This is what loving your life is all about. Living your life on your terms. Your dreams, your desires, and your needs are given to you as signs of how you’re supposed to show up in this world. If we’re constantly ignoring our desires, we’re constantly giving the universe a middle finger. It’s like I’m saying, yeah, I know that was your plan for me but I’m going to twist myself into this fake version of myself to make others happy. Seriously? 

If you’re still reading, you’re ready. Print out these four tools. Use them. Commit to being more you. You matter to me. 

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