how to stop people pleasing

How to Stop People-Pleasing in 5 Simple Steps

You may need to learn how to stop people-pleasing if you’re overwhelmed and the to-do list just keeps growing.

The immense guilt you feel just thinking of saying no, mixed with worry that others will think less of you, have you repeatedly saying one little word. A word that everyone has come to expect because you use it so often


Although the word sure is small, the negative impact it can have on your wellbeing is huge. Deep down you probably know it. Still, you may have resigned yourself to the belief this is who you are. This is your life, your destiny even. You may even go as far as to say it’s better to stick with the devil you know than take the risk of learning how to stop people-pleasing.

I get it. People pleasing is a hard habit to break. Being assertive doesn’t come easily because you believe on some level thatsaying no is mean. Driven by a fear of rejection, I too was a people pleaser for more than half of my life.

Assertiveness doesn’t mean behaving in a mean, dominant, or bullying manner. It simply means acknowledging your own needs.

It’s also important to understand that acting assertively is something most have to learn and practice. Unfortunately,, the natural assertiveness you had as a child may have been trampled upon by your parents and surroundings. If you’re a people pleaser, you were probably forced to people please instead of following your will. You’ll need to overcome the fear and learn to respectfully assert your needs. Then, peace of mind will come.

These are the typical things people-pleasers struggle with:

  • Fear of being rejected
  • Fear of  coming across as “mean”
  • Preoccupation with what others think and feel
  • Neglect of personal needs
  • Approval seeking
  • Getting stuck in relationships where you give more than you get
  • Chronic overwhelm due to a hyperactive sense of personal responsibility
  • Burnout

Yet there is also a positive flip side of people-pleasing behavior which helps to develop a number of skills such as…

  • Being sensitive to energies. We are able to tune in to the “temperature of a room”, feeling into a situation 
  • Blending in
  • Intuitively  knowing what other people think, feel, and need 
  • Anticipating the needs of others
  • A strong work ethic

Interestingly, I’ve also noticed that it’s quite common with people-pleasers to also identify themselves with:

  • Being a type-A personality style; very competitive and self-critical, experience a constant sense of urgency
  • Having a strong need for control
  • Being perfectionists
  • Having low self-esteem

If there is one message to take away from this blog post, it’s this:

Accepting responsibility for other people does not equal being nice.  And saying “no” doesn’t equate to being mean.

I know you just want to make everyone feel happy and be there 100% for them. I also know how much you believe it’s your fault, somehow, if you disappoint or fail to make others happy.

This distinction between kindness and healthy selfishness is an important lesson to learn! !t has changed my life and relationships for the better. In my personal journey, I adopted people-pleasing as an attempt to feel secure in my relationship. Through inner work, however, I realized that it was a false sense of security. I learned that I didn’t know who I was because my attention was always focused on other people’s needs, not my own.

So, how to stop people-pleasing?

People-pleasing is a habitual way of relating to others, so it ingrained in your way of being. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t change it.

Here are five steps that outline how to stop people-pleasing.

how to stop people-pleasing

1. Acknowledge your “why” for the behavior. Over time, you develop these patterns of behavior to help you feel loved, connected, and safe in relation to others.  

2. Reclaim your power. Take the responsibility to heal. Asking for other people’s approval means you are giving up your own power.

3. To really discover how to stop people-pleasing, invest your energy in improving your relationship with yourself. Stop giving your power away by seeking the approval of others.

4. Know your triggers. Becoming aware of what your triggers are that move you into people pleasing behavior is very important. When you are aware, you can prepare yourself for responding in a new way.

5. Be kind and practice, practice, practice. Don’t beat yourself up when you fall back into your people pleasing habit, it’s a habit you’ve been doing a long time. But make a promise not to give up on yourself. See it as a lesson to learn from. Keep a journal and note what you can about the situation. How were you thinking and feeling? What kind of situation was it? What was the inner self talk?

6. Get a coach. When you’re serious in changing how you show up in your life. It’s time to invest in yourself and reach out for support.  

Do you recognize your people-pleasing tendencies in this post?

Gently changing how you relate to yourself and to others requires a new perspective and an awakening to the love you hold within. You are responsible for attending to your needs and happiness first and it’s not selfish. This is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and for those you care about.

The most challenging thing about change is not the learning and understanding, it’s the doing – taking action. It’s being committed and consistent, so you can sustain the needed changes during times when you are met with resistance.

Showing you how to stop people-pleasing is what I do!  So, if you’re on your spiritual path and know this aspect of you is ready to be healed and are looking for a spiritual growth coach to help with your people-pleasing, reach out to me.  I offer free, half-hour discovery calls online, and I’d be very happy to meet you and share how I can help.

Learn more about my coaching services.

Rachel Goss
Scroll to Top