Are You A People Pleaser?
Aspire Learning Space
Aug 15, 2022

A people pleaser is a person who tends to please others even if it’s at the expense of their own
wellbeing. It is usually linked to a personality trait, sociotropy, which according to Toru Sat is
characterized as an “excessive investment in interpersonal relationships”. People pleasing
tends to be unintentionally disguised with a desire to be kind and selfless, when in reality it’s an
attempt to maintain the peace, avoid conflict, and gain the approval of others. This occurs as a
result of low self-esteem because people-pleasers find their worth in how well they are
perceived by others. Overtime, it can be draining and detrimental to a person’s happiness and
mental health.

Signs of people pleasing

● Finding excuses to get out of a commitment rather than directly saying no to it
● Valuing other people’s opinion out of a fear of being judged
● Over apologizing even when they’re not at fault
● Never having free time because it’s always spent helping others
● Staying silent if your opinion is different from that of others

Root cause of people pleasing

People pleasing can serve as a coping mechanism to past maltreatment. If someone was
mistreated in the past, they might think that avoiding upsetting the other party can be the way to
avoid being mistreated again. People pleasing can also have many root causes like a fear of
rejection, low self-worth, or a desire to fit in.


1- Spend time alone
Take the time to do things that make you happy and that you enjoy. People pleasers lack
self-love because they only feel good about themselves when others are happy with them.
Searching for ways to feel good about yourself outside of their opinion is the way to stop living
for others. This means that you must learn how to enjoy your own company without them, only
then will you prioritize your peace of mind over their presence. Discovering what you expect in
relationships, or what you will not tolerate from others comes from understanding and honoring

2- Set boundaries with time
Time you will be spending alone is originally time that went to the needs of others. To honor your
time, be clear with others about how much time you have on your hands. You can answer a
phone call and let the other person know that you will only have ten minutes to chat. If a
meeting with coworkers went over the allotted time, make sure to excuse yourself.

3- Learn how to say no (without excuses)
You can practice saying no by starting small. If you’re asked to go to places you don’t want to be
at, or to take on a project at work that you don’t have time for, practice saying no to such things.
Before you respond to an invitation, ask yourself first if you truly want to be a part of it, or if you
will take it on to make someone else happy. If you realize that you don’t want to be a part of it,
then say no without explaining yourself. Explaining ourselves is a form of self-betrayal, and it
gives the other person a chance to try to convince you to do what they want you to do. Being
upfront and firm gives less room for negotiation.

4- Embrace the change
You have to prepare yourself for the fact that your circle will change. People who truly love you
will root for you and honor your boundaries, whereas people who benefitted from your habit of
pleasing people will not support your growth and will manipulate you into holding on to your old
ways. Remind yourself that you deserve to be surrounded by people who encourage your
development and journey of self-love.

5- Avoid over apologizing
If you aren’t at fault, refrain from giving an apology. People pleasers not only over apologize
when they take the responsibility for other people’s mistakes, but they also apologize when they
ask questions or need something. Sometimes they’re not aware of how much they apologize, so
keeping a “sorry jar” can help. Find someone who will hold you accountable, and put a coin in a
sorry jar every time you apologize for no reason. Another way to change the trajectory of your
words is to show gratitude rather than remorse. If you’re late for an appointment, it can be more
positive to say “thank you for waiting for me”, rather than “i’m sorry”.

Reflection Questions:
1- Do I take part in things because I want to be a part of them or because I’m avoiding upsetting
2- Do I overwork myself and take on more responsibilities than I can handle?
3- Do the people in my life benefit from my lack of boundaries? Or do they root for my growth?

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