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Are You a People Pleaser? 

Women with a yellow shirt and a guilty look on her face.


I didn’t realize I was a people pleaser.

In fact, I would have argued that I was very confident, bold even. I don’t fawn over people or seem overly compassionate, outwardly. Most people assume I am confident and autonomous. I probably learned this behavior to compensate for my low self-esteem. 


People pleasing detracts from our happiness because we spend so much time worrying about everyone else. I wish I had been aware of my people pleasing tendencies much sooner; I would have saved myself so much suffering.


9 Common Traits of People Pleasers


Feeling responsible for how other people feel


People pleasers are really in tune with how others feel, they can be really empathetic. This is a blessing and a curse.


I worry about my Mom feeling lonely and sometimes I feel bad about myself because I don’t do enough to help her have a full social life. 


I have to remind myself that it’s not my responsibility to be her social life, to be her everything. I am not responsible for how she feels.


We are never responsible for how others feel, they create the way they feel with their thinking, and their feelings fuel their actions. If my mother thinks she’s tired of being lonely and decides to do something about it, she will take actions that grow her social circle.


Also just because I think she must be lonely doesn’t make it true. Maybe she’s perfectly happy with her current social life.


Apologizing often


You know who you are. Are you one of those people constantly saying, I’m sorry? 


Do you often believe others are blaming you? 


I sometimes assume people are thinking it’s my fault when things go wrong. I automatically feel defensive and try to defend myself. Again, just because I think something doesn’t mean my thoughts are true.


You resent having to do things


You agree to do things, even offer or volunteer, then resent the tasks you have to do? Are you doing things just to please others, things you don’t really want to do? 


Practice restraint in offering your services and remember you don’t “have to” do anything.


Do you have a hard time saying no?


People pleasers want to be liked, helpful, and useful. We want to belong to the group or the tribe, it’s in our wiring but nowadays it’s not necessary or even healthy.


You’re in charge of how you spend your time, practice saying no to people. Seriously make a point to practice telling people no.


You want everyone to like you


You can’t stand when someone doesn’t like you or is mad at you. This is another big one for me. I really hate it when I’m not liked. 


I love the saying, I’m a peach and not everyone likes peaches. It helps. And I t also helps to remember that I don’t like everyone, it’s totally normal.


You go along with group or agree with people when you really don’t


You decide ahead of time you won’t be drinking or eating sugar but when the group does and maybe someone calls you out, you cave and do what the group does.


Some people take this to the point of agreeing with people when they absolutely don’t. 


You need validation or you spend a lot of time and energy wondering and worrying about what other people think


Do you thrive on compliments? Maybe you don’t trust your own choices unless people agree with you or validate that you are doing it right.


I hate to admit it but this is a big one for me. I definitely struggle with the need for validation. If I decide to do something one way but hear about someone doing it differently I immediately second guess my own decision. 


I also have the false belief that I know what people are thinking most of the time. Of course, I generally think they are thinking critical thoughts about me because that is how my mind works. I am critical.


I have to remind myself that I cannot read minds and certainly most of the time I am totally wrong. Especially when I think they are thinking about me, people spend most of their time thinking about themselves, not about what others are doing.


Avoid conflict


Avoiding conflict can be good, not all battles are worth your time, but does avoiding conflict for you mean staying in a toxic relationship or a career that no longer serves you?


Recognize what conflicts you are avoiding and whether or not they are in your best interest to address.




I am learning so much more about myself and have become more self aware, I realize much of the suffering that I experience in my life has stemmed from low self-esteem. It took a while for me to recognize and admit that. 


I always believed I was strong and that people with low self-esteem were doormats, they were weak. I was ashamed to admit I have low self-esteem, but denying it just feeds the feeling of being unworthy…not as good as…or less than.


When we shine a light on the dark places in our lives, they get brighter immediately. Just being aware of my low self esteem and my people pleasing tendencies helps to chip away at them. 


I find myself questioning, am I doing this because I really want to? Is this for the real me? What do I really want?


I’m beginning to explore my childhood and I’m considering things that have impacted and shaped who I am today. Many of these things seem small and insignificant and I immediately want to think, I shouldn’t let it bother me, I should get over it, I should toughen up, but all these things have affected me. 


I’m reflecting on these remembered moments that shaped me and I imagine that little girl, that young woman. I’d never tell her to toughen up, instead I’d have her back.


Is it time for you to have yours?

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