How To Stop Being A People-Pleaser And Take Control Of Your Life

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One of the biggest challenges people face is how to stop being a people pleaser. Of course, only those who are fortunate enough to have realized they possess such unwanted traits can seek solutions.

Today, many people in our society have a personality streamlined to please others without even knowing. They confuse it for being kind and compassionate towards others.

In this article, I will provide clear explanations to make you understand who a people pleaser is and how to stop being a people pleaser.

I will also highlight the signs you need to look out for to determine whether you are a people pleaser or not. So, I encourage you to read along.


What Is A Pleaser Personality?

A pleaser personality can be described as the excessive desire to make other people happy, regardless of whether it affects you or not.

People who have this personality can go the extra length for others, no matter what it costs them. While it is okay to make people happy, it becomes a concern when it is done obsessively.

For many individuals, their desire to please others comes as a result of how they value themselves. They assume that they may only be accepted among their peers when they work with whatever is expected.

For others, it is a result of the lack of love they had experienced during childhood. So, they think they can be loved and accepted when they say yes to everything. As they continue with such a habit, it eventually becomes part of their lifestyle and an obsession.

Many individuals with a pleaser personality do not even know that they display such behavior. For them, they are simply being kind and caring to other people.

When they are asked why they can’t simply turn down a request, they provide a lot of excuses such as “I’m trying to show love to everyone,” “I don’t want people to assume I am an unkind person,” “I think I was built in a way that being kind is my obsession.”

When they say these things, they fail to realize the psychological impacts it could have on them. As a result, more and more people will continue to take advantage of them until they understand how to stop being a people-pleaser.


Who Is A People Pleaser?

stop pleasing people

As already established, a people pleaser is an individual who is obsessed with making everyone around him happy. Therefore, they cannot say “no” to people’s requests, no matter how it affects them.

People pleasers can be found in all aspects of life; in academic institutions, offices, sports clubs, industries, etc. They are those who do not mind leaving their tasks halfway just because they want to assist other people in completing theirs.

They often do this because of the validation they seek from others. Unfortunately, they do not know how to stop being a people pleaser. They only have one thing in their minds; helping others.

However, at some point, they may become emotionally overburdened by trying to help everyone. At this stage, most people-pleasing individuals would usually want to learn how to stop being a people pleaser.

Nevertheless, if you assume that you are a people pleaser, you can watch out for signs to determine whether you are one or not.

Signs That You Are A People Pleaser

While it’s not very difficult to determine whether or not you are a people pleaser, it could be sometimes challenging; especially when you ignore the signs. So, how do you know whether you are a people pleaser or simply a nice person?

As humans, it is in our nature to help other people. However, when you do too much of anything, it becomes a problem. Some of the signs of being a people pleaser are:


1.  Conforming To What Everyone Says Or Does

While growing up, some persons tended to adjust their behavior to suit what others were saying. As they continued this habit, it slowly developed into having a people-pleasing behavior. This stems from the fact that they want people to consider them as good listeners or like how they behave.


2.  Always Taking The Blame For Other People’s Messes

You always feel the need to apologize to either avoid arguments or gain the respect of the person in question. However, in learning how to stop being a people pleaser, you must know that you only owe people apologies when you are at fault.


3.  Not Having The Courage To Say “No” To People

Another sign of having a people-pleasing behavior is not knowing when to say no. That is, you are always willing to help others accomplish a task without considering your availability.

Sometimes, when you don’t want to help someone, you give excuses, or make up lies to escape the situation rather than saying “no” to them.

This is not a good idea because you might eventually have a fallout with the person when they discover you were not sincere to them.

4. You Feel Powerless When Decisions Are Being Made

In a group where you are part of the decision-makers, you barely have anything to contribute. You always agree with what others have said so that you don’t have a clash of interests. When it’s time to make the big decisions, no one expects you to have something tangible to contribute.

5. You Find It Difficult To Set Boundaries

You are always welcoming to everyone. You don’t know when to draw the line or who to stay away from. Rather than being sometimes rigid with your actions, you become too flexible that everyone can easily access your personal life.


What Causes People-Pleasing?

stop being a people pleaser

There are a lot of factors responsible for developing a people-pleasing attitude. Such factors could be psychological, emotional, environmental, cultural, and peer pressure. Some people become people-pleasers because they grew up noticing their parents having such an attitude.

Others could result from growing up in an environment where they were surrounded by people who bullied others into submission.

If you want to know how to stop being a people pleaser, you first must understand what causes people-pleasing. Here are some of the top reasons that cause people-pleasing:

  • The fear of getting into a disagreement with others
  • Having a solid history of being around people pleasers
  • The obsession with seeking people’s validations
  • Not being assertive or confident about yourself
  • Uncertainty about the future


Is Being A People Pleaser Bad?

People pleasers can go the extra mile to ensure they satisfy other people’s wishes, which often drastically affects their lives. As a result, they become emotionally and physically exhausted. Even when they feel the need to discontinue such a habit, it is tough to stop.

People pleasers often shut down doors that allow others to take care of them. Instead, they believe they are responsible for taking care of others.

While showing kindness and compassion towards other people can be a good thing, it becomes unhealthy when you do it too much.

To learn how to stop being a people pleaser, you must become more confident and assertive. When you become assertive, you will be able to make decisions for yourself. That way, when you find yourself in an unfavorable situation, you can easily walk away.


Why People Pleasing Is Dangerous

stop pleasing people

Showing kindness to everyone around you is a good thing. Loving people and loving yourself is a great way to be humane. However, when you begin to display excessive kindness or obeisance to others, it becomes a problem.

Generally, having a people-pleasing attitude is dangerous to both your mental and physical health. You could become so overwhelmed that you get depressed or completely withdrawn from people.

Therefore, it is essential to apply moderation in whatever we do — including the love and affection we show to others. This is because when some people notice you are overly kind, they exploit your vulnerability to their advantage, putting you in an unpleasant situation.

Hence, to avoid being treated like a dog who must obey its master all the time, you must understand that being a people pleaser is dangerous; and learn how to stop being a people pleaser. Additionally, eliminating your pleaser personality can help you overcome depression and other issues.


How Do You Recover From People-Pleasing?

When you realize that you work so hard to please others — even when they never return the favor — learning how to stop being a people pleaser becomes less complicated.

Some people become so concerned and would do anything to assist others without ever considering their actions.

They often become emotionally and mentally overwhelmed simply because they cannot resist the urge to help others. When they eventually decide to stop, they may start having feelings of resentment and guilt. These feelings usually emerge because such people mistake people-pleasing for kindness.

People-pleasing is essentially exaggerated kindness that may harm an individual if not adequately controlled. When some people realize that they can no longer cope with their people-pleasing attitude, they may start looking for ways to stop being a people-pleaser.

Below are fifteen ways you can stop being a people-pleaser and focus more on yourself:


1.  Take A Moment To Reflect On Who You Are

It is in our nature as humans to be kind to other people. However, when your “kind” acts become too much and start draining you physically and emotionally, you should know that you have to change your attitude.

Taking a moment to reflect on the kind of personality you have can help you recover from being a people-pleaser. You can ask yourself these questions:

  • Why am I doing so much for others?
  • Is my excessive show of kindness affecting me emotionally?
  • What can I do to create a balance between pleasing others and making myself feel good?
  • Will other people do the same for me when I need their help?
  • Do I need to always come through for others even when I know it will affect me?
    These questions — when correctly answered — can help you understand how to stop being a people-pleaser.


2.  Be Confident And Self-Assuring When Speaking

Some people often try to exploit the gullibility of others. They can sense whether you are a people-pleaser or not by the way you speak.

When they find out that you are, they will most likely use that opportunity to exploit you. Whenever they need to fix something, they will run to you.

You may even become their counsellor and life coach. However, when you speak with such confidence and assurance that boosts your self-esteem, people will know that you are principled and have limits to the things you do.

They may likely meet you to help them once in a while, but they will never attempt to exploit you. This is because they sense that you may not sacrifice so much time and energy to satisfy their sometimes selfish needs.


3.  Politely Say “No” If Need Be

A people-pleaser does not know how to say no — they don’t know how to stop being a people-pleaser. So they will always say “yes” to every request made by others, even if it may be at their disadvantage.

For example, you could be engaged in several activities at your workplace, and a colleague kindly asks you to help them complete a task that they find difficult. Of course, you know that you can help them achieve that.

However, if you decide to do so, it would mean that you have to complete your engagements some other time. You also know that your boss needs you to complete your tasks as soon as possible, but if you help your colleague, you will not meet the deadline.

In such cases, all you need to do is politely decline their request to complete their project and tell them why you feel the need to. Then, they will most likely understand.

In such cases, people-pleasers will assume that they do not have the power to reject a request. They would want to help their colleague execute the task at their own expense — simply because they think it’s an act of love or kindness.


4.  Understand When People Are Overstepping Boundaries

When learning how to stop being a people-pleaser, you must be very smart and observant. In every situation or position you find yourself in, try to observe people’s attitudes.

That way, you will know when an individual is going beyond the limits you have set between them and yourself.

People often try to overstep their boundaries when they realize they can get whatever they wish from you. When they successfully do so, it becomes more difficult to turn down their requests or say no to their offers.


5.  Don’t Take The Responsibility Of Apologizing All The Time

Never be the one to apologize whenever there is a disagreement. You cannot always be wrong. In life, we will offend people, and people will offend us. It’s okay to apologize when you offend them, but they owe you an apology when they offend you.

However, if you are constantly apologizing, something is wrong — it’s a sign that you may be a people-pleaser.

I had a friend who was in a relationship with someone she termed “the love of my life.” They went everywhere together, did almost everything together, and won’t go a minute without texting each other when they were away.

Yet, they had a lot of disagreements. Every time they fell out with each other, my friend’s partner always threatened to call it quits. Sometimes, my friend would narrate what had caused their quarrel, and I would discover she wasn’t at fault at all. However, she was the one who always apologized.

Once, I tried to discourage her from apologizing when her partner offended her, but she didn’t take my advice. She went ahead to apologize. After a few months, they quarreled because she found out her partner’s infidelity.

As usual, her partner probably expected her to apologize after he had vowed to end the relationship. But, this time, my friend swore she wouldn’t do so and kept her promise. Her partner sensed that she had a people-pleasing attitude and exploited it to his advantage — luckily, she stopped being a people pleaser.


6.  Remember That You Don’t Always Owe Everyone An Explanation

A people-pleasing individual thinks he must explain to everyone about a misunderstanding or disagreement with others. When you try to explain things to everyone around, it would seem like you are trying to score cheap points.

People may not even think you are telling the truth. They would assume you are putting great efforts into explaining yourself because you want them to believe you. Know the right people to explain things to; it’s one of the steps on how to stop being a people pleaser.

Once you have clarified your stance with the people you feel you own an explanation, do not bother to explain to those less interested in the situation.


7.  Stand Up For Yourself When You Feel You Are Right

Sometimes, when people discover that you always want to please others, they try to use it against you. They know that because you don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings, you will most likely not say anything against them. Even when you are right, you won’t be able to defend yourself.

Knowing how to stop being a people pleaser is very important in this regard. Always know how to defend yourself when you are not wrong.

Never allow anyone to suppress you into not saying anything when you have much to say. Even when no one else is standing up for you, always stand up for yourself when you know you are right.


8.  Make Yourself A Top Priority

You should know that no matter how much you love and want to show kindness to people, you should come first.

You must first love and take care of yourself before doing so to others. If you are not healthy or in the best frame of mind, there is no way you can help people.

Additionally, some people go the extra mile to save other people when they haven’t done enough to protect themselves. Before you decide to be kind to others, be kind to yourself first. You owe yourself all the love and attention in this world.


9.  Acknowledge That You Can’t Satisfy Everyone

One of the biggest challenges people-pleasing individuals face is that they become emotionally divided when they go against people’s wishes. They often feel like they have to help other people, no matter what it takes.

When they fail to do so, they may become so disturbed by their inability to help others. In learning how to stop being a people pleaser, you have to realize that it is okay to sometimes go against people’s wishes. You cannot always be there for everyone.

Sometimes, you won’t have the resources to help others. Don’t bother yourself too much when that happens. Instead, focus more on the positives and promise to come through for others whenever you can.


10.  Accept The Discomfort

There’s a certain feeling of discomfort you will probably have when you decide to stop being a people-pleasing individual. It’s like a withdrawal syndrome. You will have a strong urge to please everyone for some time even when you have decided to stop.

It’s understandable, but you have to resist the urge and be patient with yourself. After some time, you won’t feel the weird discomfort of not always pleasing others.


11.  Don’t Strive To Show Perfection

While for some people, it is in their nature to always want to please other folks, for some other individuals, it is a conscious effort they make to achieve perfection.


12.  Be Proud Of Who You Are

Being a people-pleasing person is not a bad thing. If you are one, be proud of yourself. It simply means that you have great empathy for humanity and you care about others.

The only problem is that you could do it to an extent where it may affect your personal life. Hence the need to be moderate with kindness.

Therefore, you must be proud of who you are. This way, you can quickly readjust and become a better version of yourself. Also, you may eventually find a balance between pleasing others and making yourself feel good.


13.  Create Room For Self-Development And Growth

In life, changes have to happen. You cannot learn how to stop being a people pleaser if you are not responsive to change. You must always be ready to grow and develop.

Have you discovered that you have a people-pleasing attitude and are willing to change? Great. What steps are you taking to make the change and grow into a better and happier individual? That’s an important question you have to answer.


14.  Your Opinions Are Important Too

When people discover they can manipulate you to do whatever they wish, they begin to consider your opinions as insignificant. What you say or think may not matter to them. After all, you will still oblige to their wishes or instructions.

To stop being a people pleaser, you must know that your opinions are as important as others’.

So, when you have something to say, say it with the assurance that you know what you are talking about. Do not let anyone make you feel like you aren’t saying anything meaningful.


15.  Be A Kind Person, Not A People Pleaser

I have always tried to distinguish between kindness and a people-pleasing attitude. When you are kind to people, you do what you can to help them solve their problems.

When you are a people pleaser, you go the extra length to solve the issues of others even though it would hurt you in the long run.

In my opinion, kindness, when it becomes excessive and overly exaggerated, is people-pleasing. You are required to be a kind human being, not one who would neglect the log of wood in his eyes and try to remove a speck of dirt from another person’s eyes.



If you start seeing signs that you are probably a people pleaser, you need to seek solutions. Apart from learning how to stop being a people pleaser yourself, you can talk to a counsellor about it. You can also join groups and communities — both online and offline — to help you overcome your challenges.

Little Step, Big Miles is one of those online communities that help people become better versions of themselves. There, you can get all the support and encouragement you need to overcome your vices.

You can join them on Facebook using the link provided here. I am sure that you have learned a couple of things on how to stop being a people pleaser, and I hope you watch out for the signs!

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Author: Afam Uche

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