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Are you a people pleaser?

You know the type: The people who would rather just say ‘yes’, putting themselves out, than confront or say no to others. Those who will go to almost any efforts to please. Those who are up at night wondering if they’ve offended someone, or why someone doesn’t like them. The first person to arrive at a meeting and the first to apologise for something that’s completely out of their control. Sure, we all know a people pleaser. But what if it’s you?

Perhaps you’ve never looked at yourself as a people pleaser before? Being kind and helpful aren’t bad qualities to have, after all. But are you going too far to please others and putting your own happiness on the back burner? If you’re not sure whether you’re the people pleaser in your life, here are some signs that it might, in fact, be you:

  • You are overly apologetic. When someone bumps into you in the supermarket, do you find yourself apologising?
  • Do you have trouble saying no to people, even when saying yes means putting yourself at a disadvantage?
  • Do you continually accept poor behaviour from others and say things like ‘never mind, it’s no problem’ when those around you admit to being wrong?
  • Do you find yourself taking care of everyone around you – be they important to you or not – instead of yourself?
  • Do you struggle to put your foot down with other people?
  • Do you sometimes feel like you’re being taken advantage of, or that you’re a pushover?

If these kinds of behaviours sound familiar to you, it’s quite likely that you’re a bit of a people pleaser and that you lack self-worth. While doing your best to please others can have its share of benefits, it also comes with significant downsides. People pleasing behaviour could be holding you back from all sorts of things without you even realising it, and if you lack boundaries people will inevitably take advantage of you. Here, we take a look at the top reasons to stop being a people pleaser – today!

Being a ‘yes’ person can be great for your career in some ways, as it shows those in charge that you’re ready and willing to do what it takes for your job. However, being a people pleaser can have some unexpected side effects for your career. The saying ‘nice guys finish last’ has some basis in truth, in this instance. People pleasers can find it difficult to ask for what they want – be it a pay rise, a promotion, or better working conditions – for fear of offending someone. Meanwhile, those within the workplace who are more likely to make a case for themselves are also more likely to be considered for that promotion, pay rise or big corner office. It’s important to work hard and do your best to further your career by being a ‘yes’ person, but it’s equally important to ask for what you want or you will end up becoming very resentful.

Whether it’s at home, at work, or in your social life, being a people pleaser leaves you wide open to being taken advantage of. Think about how children will quickly learn which parent or grandparent is more likely to say yes to that coveted pre-dinner treat. Why ask Mum when Grandma is a sure thing? Being a people pleaser teaches those around you that you’ll have trouble saying no to even the most outrageous or inconvenient of requests. On the other hand, setting boundaries and learning to be more confident in your ability to just say no teaches others that you can’t be pushed around, and as a result people will respect you more.

People pleasers are constantly trying to be everyone’s best friend. Ironically, despite the fact that you’re trying to make everyone happy, being a people pleaser can have the opposite effect. In the workplace, people pleasers can appear to be doing anything to climb the corporate ladder, for example. This doesn’t engender trust and can make it appear as though you don’t have integrity. Being focused on what you believe and what your values are can be far more beneficial for all your relationships, and you will be considered more reliable and trustworthy.

Are you used to keeping your own health concerns to yourself for fear of upsetting your friends or family? Does troubling others with your health matters make you feel like you’re burdening them? Perhaps you just don’t think that taking care of your own health is a priority, when there are so many other things to worry about? People pleasers will often ignore their own wellbeing in favour of the health and happiness of those around them. That might mean going into work even though you’ve got a cold, or steadfastly maintaining your daily routine for the kids without asking for help, even though you’re not feeling your best. That’s not to mention the stress that being a people pleaser can cause! Failing to take care of yourself and thinking about your health as a priority can make you unwell and makes it harder to recover from even the most trivial of health concerns. Learning to take care of yourself and being assertive about what you need is an important step towards better health and a very important reason to stop being a people pleaser.  If you have difficulty saying no, you will undoubtably be taking on too much, and you will experience increased stress, anxiety and overwhelm!

Sure, it’s not nice to feel as though you’re letting people down, or that perhaps you’re not everyone’s cup of tea. But have you ever considered that being a people pleaser is stopping you from finding your own happiness? Being fulfilled and happy means not only taking care of yourself but staying true to who you are and what you find important. It pays to keep in mind that old adage ‘you can’t please everyone’ and remember that it’s ok! It’s not your job to make everybody happy. And furthermore, you’re the only one who can make YOU happy, so make yourself a priority.

Many of us are people pleasers to some degree, but it’s important to understand that you can be a kind, thoughtful and helpful person without compromising on your values and on your self-care.  There is a very strong relationship between low self-esteem and being a people pleaser.  If you find it hard to break free of your people-pleasing behaviours it may be time to consider getting some help to explore your own self-worth.  At Integrated Health Specialists, we have a specific self-esteem and self-worth program which can help you to better understand and overcome your people pleasing habits, and start taking charge of your own life to feel more fulfilled.  Contact us for more information today.

Michelle van Namen
Author: Michelle van Namen