6 Serious Reasons To Stop ‘People Pleasing’


Updated: May 2, 2017


Do you please others, to feel okay about yourself?

Are you a ‘fixer?’ 

I was once an accomplished people pleaser. Quite content with the role. I had no idea that it was a diversionary tactic, that is was denying me my own needs, that it was an addictive behaviour. 

This is because when you ‘people please,’ you genuinely believe that you’re offering a kindness to others, by helping others with their problems, offering solutions, listening to troubles until you want to drop from exhaustion.

The problem is that it becomes your whole identity. You even become adept at saying “YES” to everything; you don’t want to upset anyone.

An easy way to be liked.

Aren’t you nice.

But You Are Lost

Were you trained to please others instead of yourself?

Was pleasing how you received love or approval? Did you adopt this behaviour as a coping mechanism for unresolved hurt or trauma?

“What a great listener you are!” you will be told.

Not a compliment in this case. A red flag.


People Pleasing: Called A ‘Disease’ For A Reason

It’s a wild-eyed need to heal everybody but yourself. An opportunity to run from your own struggles. A cockeyed way to build self-esteem.

And, a rote response. When others around me were unhappy or sad, I stored their sadness. Their pain became my pain. A heavy burden.

But dammit, I would fix that pain, ease those struggles. Nobody will suffer on my watch!

When I succeeded in making someone else feel better, I got my people pleasing ‘fix.’

I was needed. Important. I had the power to change lives!



Why Anyone Would Choose This Behaviour?

People pleasing is likely to start early in life. It’s not a choice. Children learn how to receive love and attention from adults or persons in authority in any way they can.

Parents with narcissistic personality disorders, for example, groom their more vulnerable children into puppets who learn not to cross lines and who want to ‘please’ at any cost.

Others who are highly sensitive may see strife and discord around them from an early age and feel it is their responsibility to heal the damage.

People pleasers sacrifice for others.

Their identity exists outside of themselves.


Are You Affected?

I saw myself in Melody Beattie’s acclaimed book “Codependent No More.” You may see yourself in that book too.

The very behaviour you once considered kind and unselfish is bad for you. You will see that, too.

This is not easy to accept. This is who you have become.

So who are you without people pleasing?

One step at a time. And time for your identity crisis to cease.


6 Solid Reasons To Abandon People Pleasing

You can’t change or fix other people. You never could. They have to do the work. You get a payoff from trying to help, but it’s not a healthy one.

Those who expect you to fix them are lost. They need to help themselves. Their burden is not yours to bear.

When you rush in to fix others, you deny them their own chance at competence. 

When you rush in to please others, you deny critical compassion and attention to yourself. 

You are not a therapist. You are not qualified to be a therapist. You have no time to be a therapist. You have your own issues.

To survive and cope in this life, your own needs often must come first. Yes, first. Not last.


Becoming Your Own Person

I still feel my chest constrict when someone is suffering.

Fix it!


Now I do the following:

I breathe deeply.

I remind myself that self-compassion is not a luxury, but a necessity.

I remind myself that other people must find their own solutions and that this takes time.

I remind myself that people pleasing is not healthy for me or anyone else.

Because this much is true: the inclination ‘to please’ is very hard to break. But break it you must. Your own needs and issues are important.

They always were.


Recommended Extra Reading
Melody Beattie,  Codependent No More.
Colleen Long Psy.D.When You’re Afflicted With the Disease to Please.”
 Sherry Pagoto Ph.D. “Are you a People Pleaser?”



This entry was posted on Friday, January 31st, 2014 at 2:09 pm and is filed under Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.



While I don't publish all comments, I welcome and appreciate your feedback and participation. If you'd prefer to keep your comment 'private,' please use my contact form (located on my website menu) and indicate this. I will happily respond to all comments and questions.

  1. February 1st, 2014 | A. Reist says:

    This post is so useful and it has helped me out so much. Great job.

  2. February 2nd, 2014 | Wendy Kay says:

    “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin

    To your blossoming, Abby! (smile) Your courage to share is wonderful in that you’ve now given the choice of freedom to others in this “new” perspective. I honor your journey of self-care and acknowledgement of your own worthiness. Beautiful!

    Much love to you, and to all those who read your words of pain and liberation.

  3. February 12th, 2014 | abby says:

    Thank you Wendy, I really hope this post helps other people. xo

  4. February 2nd, 2014 | H. Fasco says:

    This blog post was suggested to me by a family member. I’m not sure whether this post was written by him as no one else knows, in such detail, about my own problem. You are amazing! Thanks!

  5. February 13th, 2014 | Agueda says:

    Hello There. I found your blog using msn. That is an extremely well written article.
    Thank you for the post. I will definitely come back.

  6. October 17th, 2014 | Anna says:

    Great post! I am currently in codependency recovery. I am an ACOA, was sexually abused as a child and as a adult. I have worked VERY hard the last year & 1/2 in therapy and sexual abuse recovery group. Guess what? My family doesn’t necessarily like the changes (esp. husband). It’s hard to go against the grain and get healthy. Everyone liked that I was the fixer and rescued everyone. Now that I’ve laid that role down, I’m getting new labels – cold, uncaring, thoughtless, selfish. I have to work so hard to combat those messages. I still second-guess myself. Your post gives me hope…thank you.

  7. November 4th, 2014 | abby says:

    Anna, thanks for your comment, I so hear you, and I understand. And I’m very sorry about your challenges, I get it. We become people pleasers – don’t we – because that is how we (wrongly) assumed we would receive love. Then only way… we would receive love. And then when we decide to (rightly) reform ourselves, and stop the nonsense, we’re told coldly: “You’ve changed.” YES I HAVE CHANGED! For the better, right? Would they want you to continue to be passive and not be a whole person? They may want the status quo, but you deserve better. Period. Never forget that.

  8. December 25th, 2014 | C. Ruckman says:

    Your blog posts are very helpful, I appreciate it.

  9. December 26th, 2014 | E.V. says:

    Wonderful blog! Thanks

  10. January 3rd, 2015 | Linda says:

    I’ve read many of your blog articles on your website, and I really like your way of blogging. 🙂

  11. January 6th, 2015 | abby says:

    Thanks Linda, I appreciate that!

  12. January 6th, 2015 | abby says:

    Thank you Linda.

  13. January 9th, 2015 | B. Vega says:

    A fantastic read!! I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post…

  14. March 14th, 2015 | Ian Boggs says:

    When I think back over my 53 years, there are just a few people who really stood or stand out as being good beyond the ‘normal’. Some of them, I remember from early childhood days; others I know today. If I ask myself what it is with these people that makes me say, “Wow!”, I see that it is just four things:

    1/ They are as hard as nails.

    2/ They are as kind as Mother Theresa.

    3/ They are as generous as Santa Claus (this can refer to generosity with their time rather than material things).

    4/ They are fairer than Snow white. (play on words)

    These people were never unfair or unkind to me. Equally, they would not tolerate any unfairness or unkindness from me. And why would I want to be unfair or unkind to them?

    These people helped me a lot.

    I want to be like that.

    If I were like that, I wouldn’t have to worry what other people think of me.

    I am a man but a woman could be like that and still be a lady.

    My ‘Hard as nails’ needs some work.

    I AM working on my hard as nails.

    Boundaries, dear reader; BOUNDARIES!

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While I don't publish all comments, I welcome and appreciate your feedback and participation. If you'd prefer to keep your comment 'private,' please use my contact form (located on my website menu) and indicate this. I will happily respond to all comments and questions.

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