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Just Say No: Health Effects of Being a ‘People Pleaser’ and How To Stop

Do you find yourself often saying:

  • “I can do that!”
  • “Don’t worry, I have time!”
  • “Leave this to me, I’ll take care of it!”
  • “You look tired, I can do this for you!”

Living a life of people pleasing can leave us in a constant cycle of rejection. We can’t and won’t be liked by everyone. When we strive to escape being rejected, we ultimately end up experiencing the thing we are actually striving to avoid – rejection! Living life trying to avoid rejection only increases the intensity of our feelings of rejection.

How did I become a ‘People Pleaser’?

The need to please, seek approval and care for others generally is rooted fear of being rejected or failure. Our internal voice will say ‘If I don’t make this person completely happy with me, they may stop liking me and then they could leave me or stop caring about me.”

Fear of rejection and the feeling of abandonment are rooted in an early childhood insecure, anxious attachment style that comes from a parent. This style comes from ongoing harsh punishment, frequent criticism and shamed-based parenting styles leading to childhood anxiety.

This anxiety begins to increase in the child when doing tasks, assignments, responsibilities, and engaging  relationship. “I need to get everything perfect and finish it all and make sure everyone is happy with me.” This attachment style becomes reenacted throughout all adult relationships and especially those that are intimate relationships.

Mental Health implications

Are there health effects from being a people pleaser? Absolutely. 

For women, people pleasing can put you in high-risk abusive relationships because of persistent pressure, and could not say ’no’.

People pleasing is also directly correlated with over-eating. As with many other vices, people pleasers will eat food in order to cope with stress and emotions, leading to weight gain and unhealthy lifestyles. 

Loss of “Self” and Individuality

Living our life to please others only leads us to lose ourselves. There is no real ‘self’, as defined by you doing things to please YOU. People pleasing is never about your individual needs or wants. Your compass is always pointed in the direction of ‘what others think of YOU’. This leads to:

  1. Overloading yourself with too much responsibility
  2. Doing things that go against your beliefs, value and principles
  3. Ignoring your inner voice that tells you ’I’m not comfortable doing this’
  4. Avoiding any potential feelings of discomfort
  5. Never being able to say NO
  6. Avoiding conflict at ALL costs
  7. Saying “sorry” to everyone
  8. Always conforming to other people expectations and needs
  9. Accumulating ‘buried’ resentments
  10. Social distancing from others
  11. Financial implications due to paying for others meals or loaning money

How Can I Stop People Pleasing?

Start with shifting your focus fully and completely on to you and only you. This means placing priority on your:

  • Needs
  • Wants
  • Goals
  • Principles
  • Interests
  • Valued time
  • Priorities 
  • Meaningful relationships
  • Boundaries

Here are some simple first steps to stop “People Pleasing”

  1. LOOK for your own internal validation rather than seeking approval, reassurances or validation from outside of you through others
  2. BEGIN with initiating small no’s rather than the big one. Baby step to change your fear of saying no is a real effective start.
  3. INTERRUPT your impulse to ‘approve’ others when they ask, “do you like this?’ Respond with ‘maybe, not sure, okay, or let me get back to you after I think about it”
  4. THINK of the long term goal. This change is harder upfront, but makes life easier long term. Taking the easy way response make life easier upfront, but harder long term.
  5. STOP apologizing over and ove
  6. IF you don’t like it, say it rather than faking being happy
  7. Be true to YOU!

December 17th, 2018