Ugh, Why Am I Such A People Pleaser?

People Pleasing 101

Dear Katie,
I am not sure how to stop over committing, doing things for others, trying to make everyone happy all of the time.  I feel like I will hurt someone’s feelings if I say no, or they won’t like me if I don’t say yes.  I also find myself having a hard time standing up for myself, I walk on eggshells and tend to agree with someone, just to not have any kind of drama.  I am feeling so overwhelmed, anxious and just want to crawl into a hole!  What can I do?  — Jennifer

Dear Jennifer,
Girrrrl, I feel you!  Before I go into anything else, I want you to know that being a people pleaser does have some advantages. For example, people pleasers are extraordinary amateur counselors. They are excellent listeners who open themselves up to hearing what others have to say. They are the easy-going beings of any group who help infuse a bit of balance during times of chaos. You generally won’t catch these folks bucking the trend or instigating arguments.

With that being said, we can also have a fear of rejection, a fear of failure, or a fear of being alone.  People pleasers are not the greatest at prioritizing their needs ahead of others. This quest for approval from others often triggers them to sacrifice themselves and potentially their family members. They will sacrifice their time and space as a result of their people-pleasing behaviors –meaning, they will miss out a good night’s rest, skip meals and family time to meet the needs of others.

Let’s try a SHIFT in our thoughts and actions. when you find yourself in a people-pleasing act, ask yourself the following questions?

  • How did I get here?
  • Why am I allowing this to take place?
  • What is triggering this event?
  • What do I need to say to stop this from occurring in the future?

One of the biggest goals should center around making more time for you. You have to become your greatest advocate. You must always remind yourself that making yourself a priority will not necessarily classify you as being selfish.  Rather, you are looking out for your own best interests, and that’s ok!

To breathe a bit of life into this goal, purposefully schedule 15 to 30 minutes of time you give to yourself. This time might be used to take a walk, meditate, go to a store, turn off your phone, or merely lie on the couch and do absolutely nothing.

Next, consider your own self-worth. Your approval should not come from others but will need to come from deep within yourself. Let go of the fear of what others will think. Let go of the need to please others, and start pleasing yourself.

People pleasing behaviors are not a bad thing but do become dangerous when you allow them to disrupt your emotional, mental and physical wellness.

People pleasing is a behavior that can be changed. It only takes a willingness to try and a deeper understanding of what drives it.

If you are a people pleaser, now is the time to begin to break the cycle. Start by setting small, measurable and attainable goals that begin to allow you to change those bad behaviors. Start noting when you people please and identify your specific patterns.

If necessary, seek professional help if you are experiencing depression or anxiety.

Warm wishes,

Disclaimer: The above advice is not meant to be construed as medical or legal advice. If you need professional medical, psychological, or legal advice, please contact a doctor, lawyer, or medical center.

Katie Donovan is a family, life, and relationship coach; keynote speaker; and writer with a passion for empowering women. She has been interviewed on ABC, NBC, and Fox Sports and featured in cover stories in Time and Money magazines. Katie’s award-winning blog,, reached over a million views and was seen in 146 countries within thirty days of its inception and has been syndicated in over thirty publications, including USA Today and Disney’s blog Babble.

Are you struggling to get your inner sparkle back? Have the relationships with your partner, family, or friends been affected? Ask me anything! You can send a confidential email to with Shift Happens in the subject line.

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