Have you ever thought or said “I wish I could say no?” or “I was being nice so I had to say yes” or what about “I have to say yes if not they will get mad.” For some people who resonate with this often feel a sense of being trapped, stuck, controlled, and would identify with being a “people pleaser.” If you are someone who identifies with some of these thoughts and have the desire to change, here are some steps to get away from being a “people pleaser.” Before I continue, I want to bring attention to the fact that it is okay to do nice things for others. This blog will focus on the cycles that are unhealthy due to underlying beliefs and emotions.

How do I know if I’m a people pleaser?

People pleasers are those who will often go out of their way to make sure that everyone is happy. For example, they may have positive intentions to think of themselves; however, they will often put themselves last in order to make other people feel happy or are having a good time. They invest their resources, such as time, energy, finances, and their own emotional well-being. In my work with clients who are in the process of breaking out of this cycle, there is often a common theme of insecurity, low self-esteem, anxiety, and fear.

Some common topics that pop up for people pleasers who find it challenging to set boundaries are:

  • Having a false belief that they must engage in people pleasing behaviors in order to be loved and accepted.
  • Believing that their sense of purpose relies on the happiness of others and there is somewhat of an obligation to make others happy.
  • Feeling guilty for saying no.
  • Being worried about what other people may think of you or call you.
  • Overly apologizing for everything and asking people if they are upset at you because you want to make sure that they are happy.

The difference between being a people pleaser and simply doing something nice for someone is that a people pleaser may put their own well-being in jeopardy in order to ensure others are happy.

Modern Wellness Counseling Texas Examples of Being a People Pleaser

Examples of being a people pleaser that can be subtle and how to change it

  • My mom was able to be there for me growing up and I want to be the same way.

You learned so much from your mom and it’s amazing that you felt loved by your mom. However, if you are currently feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay to take a small break, even if it’s a few minutes and be able to role model self-care to your kids and family. Taking time for yourself, does not mean you are neglecting your family or not being there for others. It means, in that moment, you are taking care of yourself.

  • I am really busy, but yes I can make that work.

If you are overbooking yourself with events, let the other person know that you are grateful for the invite but that you will not be able to make it this time around. Feel free to offer a rain check or let them know when you are available to catch up.

  • If I tell her no she’s going to get upset and I can’t risk that.

Chances are if you say no or set up a boundary, the other person on the receiving end may very well get upset or may be shocked. Why? Because they are not benefiting from you anymore.

  • I don’t want them to think I’m mean if I say “no.”

Setting a boundary for yourself is not a cruel or malicious act. Letting other people know that you are unable to meet their request is okay.

Ways to stop being a people pleaser

  • Love yourself

When people fall into the “people pleaser” role, they sometimes fear that they will not be loved or wanted if they say “no.” In these situations, you may never be able to please someone else 100% and you run the risk of someone taking advantage of you. For this reason, it’s important to practice loving yourself and knowing that you are enough and loved without having to please someone else.
Practice saying “no”

You can still be a nice and kind person and still say “no.” Do you have to give a drawn out reason as to why you are saying no and putting up a boundary, absolutely not! You can simply say, “thank you for the invite, but I’m going to pass today” or “I get why you are turning to me and I would love to help; however, today, I am unable to, I can help brainstorm some ideas

  • Set clear boundaries for yourself:

Understand that people who take advantage of you will not like your boundaries at first, that’s okay. Remember to continue your self-care practices and remind yourself that every time you set boundaries, you are making space for you and your well-being.

There are definitely multiple phases to overcoming being a people pleaser and I would love the opportunity to help you through this. If you would like help, feel free to contact our office at (210) 706-0392 to learn healthy ways of getting out of the people pleaser role while also increasing your self-esteem and confidence. You deserve it!


By Priscilla Rodriguez, M.S., LMFT, Owner of Modern Wellness Counseling

Priscilla specializes in working with couples and individuals who have experienced issues with communication and who are looking to find healthy ways to reconnect with their partner. Priscilla utilizes research based techniques to help clients implement healthy coping skills and communication skills. Learn more on how you can enhance your relationship today.
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Priscilla Rodriguez, M.S., LMFT (she/her/hers)

Priscilla is the owner and founder of Modern Wellness Counseling and is passionate about helping people learn how to implement healthy relationship skills and learn how to take care of their mental wellbeing.

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