People pleasing puts you on a hamster wheel of inadequacy, powerlessness and insecurity.
People pleasing goes beyond simple kindness. It’s based off a low opinion of yourself and the need for others to like you. There is a better way, and these 27 tips in this post will help you in various ways to break the patterns of people pleasing that are sabotaging your authentic self-confidence.
What’s So Bad About People Pleasing Anyway?
The cycle of people pleasing becomes toxic because it distracts you from the ability to truly live your own life. People pleasing gives you a false sense of control, giving you the illusion of being able to control what people think about you.
This false sense of control launches you on a mission of performance-based acceptance. It creates a need for approval from others, a never-ending hamster wheel chase that will always leave you feeling lack, uncertainty, and insecurity.
One of the byproducts of people pleasing is that it distracts you from what really matters.
When you spend your time trying to perform or act in a way that others will like you, you end up not doing the things with your life that you want to do, or you show up as a watered-down version of yourself…- If you spend all of your time trying to make others happy then you end up trapped in an impossible of you believing that you control the happiness of others, a heavy burden of responsibility to bear.
The only happiness you can control is your own.
Your happiness is your responsibility, it is not contingent on the happiness of others or on circumstances. The toxic loop of people pleasing is that if our happiness is contingent on someone else’s happiness we will forever be victims to other peoples’ whims and decisions.
People pleasing leaves us in an emotional state of frustration and resentment.
It can make you feel taken advantage of and overlooked, leaving you with a sense of powerlessness, stress, burnout, fear of being left out, and fear of not belonging. The roots of people pleasing are diverse, but ultimately the result is the same: a toxic and compromised experience of yourself in the world in relation to others.
27 Tips that Work to Break the Pattern Of People Pleasing From Your Life
1. Realize you have a choice to stop people pleasing.
People pleasing is a strategy used to manage social relationships. It’s an expression of social anxiety that desires control and guaranteed belonging. It’s a behavior that you've taught yourself to engage in, but you don’t have to continue to do so. You can choose a different way to interact with others. When you realize you have a choice, you have power.
2. Set your priorities: learn to ask yourself what you actually want.
If you find yourself in a people pleasing loop, agreeing to help someone, ask yourself: “Do I really want to help this person?” If you genuinely do, then great, do it. But if you’re doing what you are in order to protect someone's feelings or out of obligation, that’s when it’s time to reconsider.
3. Practice saying no with small “no’s”.
We break the habit of people pleasing by learning to become better with our personal boundaries and our “no’s”. Learning to say “no” and to set boundaries in small ways gives you the confidence to continue to put healthy boundaries in other areas of your life. You can practice small “no’s” by giving yourself permission to use phrases like, No, not today,” “No, not this time,” or “No, I don't think I’m available to help.”
4. Get bold with your “no’s”.
The more you practice small no’s the more comfortable big no’s will be. Continue to set boundaries around what you will and will not do, what you want to do, and what you don’t want to do, and remember you can’t earn love or people's approval through your actions. You are loved because of who you are, not because of what you do…- The big no’s will feel scary to do, and your mind will worry what “they” might be thinking about you, but press in and stand your ground. Establishing healthy boundaries in your life protects yourself and your time.
5. Practice putting yourself first.
Putting yourself first is not selfish. To love others well you have to love yourself first. You must put yourself first in your self care, your morning routine, and your spiritual disciplines. Being able to put yourself first (and your preferences, priorities and needs) teaches your subconscious self that you matter. When you know you matter, you will stand up for yourself more in life and be more capable of giving to the world in a meaningful way.
6. Show kindness when you really mean it — and call yourself out for when you are fake.
People pleasers are notoriously superficial. Yes, they are super nice, but often, too nice, and it creates a small barrier of distrust in your relationships. That’s obviously never your goal or intention, so to help you break the cycle of people pleasing, remember that people are drawn to vulnerability and authenticity. Be genuine and begin calling yourself out when you’re not being genuine. Don’t have this conversation in a self-critical way but instead to bring awareness to your motives. Show kindness and be genuine and authentic in it.
7. Learn to set boundaries
Practice setting boundaries in all areas of your life. From your financial budget to your sleeping and office hours, and the amount of time you spend cooking, putting a limit on each specific area of life will give you mastery of boundary-practice. Practicing boundaries in any capacity will improve your boundaries you set on people pleasing.
8. Prioritize self-trust, self-listening and authenticity.
You must prioritize listening to yourself to get to a true level of authenticity. And remember, authenticity is a state in which you feel most alive as yourself and where your confidence soars as a result.
When you find yourself in a people-pleasing loop, one starter question to ask yourself is: “What is it I’m actually feeling right now?” It is often our mismanaged feelings that lead us to the people-pleasing cycle. You can also use journaling to help you manage your emotions and to practice listening to yourself. Journaling creates the space to think and to begin this process of asking important questions, questions like: “what is it that's going on,” what am I really feeling,” “what am I thinking,” and “what is it that I actually want?” Learning to ask and answer these questions will increase the integrity of your relationship you have with yourself, and promotes self-trust. When you live from a place of self-trust, you can more easily say “no” and maintain healthy social boundaries.
9. Practice using your voice.
The courage to use your voice is an essential skill for anyone who wants to live a confident life. When you struggle with people pleasing you likely don’t often use your voice. So, if you find yourself overthinking what you say, the best way to start using your voice is to practice. This can be simple. Begin with what you’re avoiding saying. Do you want your babysitter to feed your child a specific food? State that. Do you want to speak up when a friend is speaking negatively about her body? Tell her she’s too important to you to speak about herself like that. Anytime you find an opportunity to speak up, and you find your internal voice trying to convince you not to say anything, it’s an opportunity to speak up and practice using your voice. The more you’re using your voice, the more you’ll realize how impactful YOUR voice is.
10. Consider the value of conflict.
People pleasers have an aversion to conflict. When framed correctly, conflict doesn’t have to be something you dread, avoid or fear. In fact, conflict serves a valuable purpose in interpersonal relationships. It can give us the gift of open conversation and having to see things from another's point of view. Conversation then leads to communication which then leads to connection. What is connection? Connection is belonging. Belonging makes us feel confident.
11. Consider the value of being disagreeable.
Being disagreeable doesn’t mean that you are directly seeking out confrontation. Rather, it means that you have a conviction and an opinion that you are bold enough to share, whether or not it is universally “agreeable” to others. Being willing to be disagreeable is a willingness to have your own preferences, and the courage to speak up about those preferences. The more you continue to practice speaking up about your opinions, and being willing to have people disagree with them, the more you will break away from the patterns of people pleasing keeping you in a watered-down version of life.
12. Use time limits.
Setting time limits gives you back control of your schedule and gives you a sense of power. You are in charge of your time and you get to tell time where to go and how to work for you. Having specific time limits on your schedule will give you leverage and confidence in the commitments you make to others.
13. Practice expressing your own opinions and preferences.
Speaking your opinions out loud, even if it is just to yourself or your spouse, will increase your confidence. The more you speak up and practice asking for little things at home, the more you will be able to do it in public settings. For example, the next time you go to Starbucks, you can ask for that little extra thing that you do like (hello extra ice or hold the whip, right?). Sometimes we don’t ask for these things we prefer because we’re afraid of inconveniencing the other person. But a little ask is not inconvenient, it allows someone to serve you and help you how you want to be helped. The more you can practice in little ways the more you can do this in the big ways.
14. Intentionally stall / add delay
This tip takes managing your time to the next level. Sometimes we create unnecessary pressure to say “yes,” or to people pleasing because we feel uncomfortable with a pregnant pause or with directly saying “no.” Instead, you can allow yourself to say something like, “You know, let me get back to you on that. I'm not sure if that’s going to fit in my schedule.” This creates delay and the ability for you to really see if it’s something you can do or want to do. It also prevents you from saying that instant “yes” that often comes with a feeling of regret from overcommitting. Allow yourself permission to know that you don’t have to explain everything to everyone.
15. You are not responsible to solve everyone’s problems / don’t enable others.
This tip is one to take to heart. You are not responsible for fixing other people's problems. The effort we make to fix everything for others doesn’t actually help them, it enables them to continue abdicating themselves from their own personal responsibility. It’s truly a lose-lose so let’s kick that to the curb. Allowing other people rise up is is a gift you give them, and using your energy to focus on what is within your control is a gift you give to yourself.
16. Pay attention to manipulation. (Consider if you’re being manipulated).
A lot of people might come to you for help. It’s a wonderful feeling to feel so needed, but this often launches us into a cycle of people-pleasing and resentment. One thing to ask yourself is: “Is this something they can do on their own?” or “Are they doing this over and over again?” Getting curious about why people come to you so often will increase your awareness of what is actually happening. It’s your job to protect yourself and to stand up for yourself; make sure you are doing the things that are necessary in your life (like self-care and your own responsibilities) before you stretch yourself thin over-helping others.
17. Say no with conviction.
“No” is not a bad word. The more you use it with confidence, the more respect you will create for yourself, and others will have for you. Saying “no” with conviction means it’s a firm “no.” Make your “no” a “no”. You don’t even have to explain why you are saying “no.” Too often we overthink the story that we think other people are thinking about us and we over-explain and try to justify why we said “no” in the first place. It’s okay to just say “no.”
18. There’s always a cost.
There’s always a cost for each decision you make. This is great to know. When you find yourself people pleasing because you don’t want to hurt someone's feelings, there's a cost to yourself and your schedule as a result. For every “yes” you say, there is a “no” you are saying to something else. Know what you are saying “yes” to and what you are really saying “no” to in every decision you make.
19. You don’t need to explain.
We’ve already talked about this briefly in tip #17, but it warrants its own number. You don’t have to explain yourself, your time schedule, your goals, or your preferences to anyone else, other than those closest to you, like your spouse and your family. When you are breaking the cycle of people pleasing, the temptation to tell people why your behavior is changing, or why you’re asking for help with carpool instead of always being the parent willing to do all the driving, doesn’t need to be explained. Practice not over-explaining yourself whenever possible and you’ll increase your skill in this area.
20. Create a mantra.
Write out an affirmation, or a meditation that reminds you of who you are and what matters to you. Take just 3-minutes right now, with a pen and paper, and decide what one phrase you want to guide you for the day. Make this affirmation something that encourages you, helps you remember what matters, and reminds you that by showing up as your fullest, most alive self, you are ultimately helping more people than you would.
What you speak and say over yourself matters. Some examples of affirmations for people-pleasers are “I belong and I love others well,” “I’m allowed to say no. I belong and I’m loved,” and “ I will use my energy to focus on what I can control and release what I can’t.” I have an entire YouTube video of Christian Affirmations for Positive Thinking you can watch that by clicking here. Create a mantra and go back to it and remind yourself when you start feeling shaky, scared or self-doubt.
21. Don’t list out excuses or explanations.
One of the most frequent, ineffective behaviors of people-pleasers who are trying to create healthy boundaries is to list out all the reasons why they are unable to do something anymore. There is no reason or need to feel guilt when you say “no.” Make a decision that you will no longer use this strategy to help you feel better saying “no.” Your reasons, even if they are just a gut reaction or a personal preference, are enough reason.
22. Remember: people are responsible for their own happiness.
We’ve mentioned this concept in the above tips already, but it is a concept that merits a pause. People are responsible for their own happiness. It is impossible to “make” someone happy. Someone else’s happiness is entirely dependent on their mindset, their thought choice and their own emotional state, all of which they have full control over.
It’s natural that we desire to make others happy, but it’s a flawed thought pattern that gives us an illusion of control over something we cannot control at all. Allow people to choose happiness for themselves and give them the space to do just that. You’ll find that you have more emotional energy to invest in your own happiness and they’ll rise up to take responsibility for their own thoughts when they are ready to.
23. Allow yourself to be yourself.
Of all the people that have ever existed or ever will exist there is only one you. Yeah, maybe you have quirks, we all do. But the God who has a perfect plan created you as you are and how you are for a reason, quirks and all. It’s time to stop minimizing the fact that you are a masterpiece and start allowing yourself to be yourself. This will free you from others' opinions and the desire for their approval that you can’t control, and you don’t ultimately need. You have nothing to prove and nothing to lose. Just be yourself. The world needs you to be you. Truly you.
24. Practice the pillars of confidence: journaling, affirmation, gratitude, action.
The pillars of habit that create a confident mind are simple daily practices that anyone can do: journaling, affirmations and gratitude. We practice all of this over in the College of Confidence, where we teach you the most effective way to implement them successfully in your life. These may seem simple and ordinary, but remember, extraordinary things happen by doing the ordinary things with extraordinary commitment Click here to find out more about the College of Confidence and how it can transform your confidence and self-worth
25. Get in the habit of self-coaching conversations.
Self-coaching conversations are the conversations that you have with yourself. They are your intentional self-reflective active thought-work and they can change your entire experience of life when done consistently and effectively. Don’t worry, I teach my students in the College of Confidence how to do this. In the College of Confidence I’ll teach you how to self-coach, how to talk back to your thoughts, how to talk yourself through situations.
26. Let go of the guilt.
Guilt doesn’t serve you. Living in a place of guilt and shame is a decision, one that keeps you stuck and indebted to others. Learning how to receive help from others frees you from the burden of equal reciprocity that might be driving your people-pleasing behaviors.
Sometimes letting go of whatever emotion you’re holding onto can be done with a simple statement and decision that says, “I’m going to let this go.” Once you say it once, you have to keep saying it over and over again to create new neuropathways in your brain for this new thought pattern. There is an anxiety technique I teach my students that can also be used with feelings of guilt and feelings of burden. See this very practical and effective Scoop and Push Method here. You can do this multiple times a day. This is an action that helps you take into action how to release these feelings of guilt.
27. Take ownership of your bigger purpose.
You were made for more. When you know that you have great purpose, you are more likely to be resistant to the distraction of people-pleasing that keeps you off course from your purpose. You don’t have to know exactly what your purpose is yet, you just need to know that you are significant. Take ownership of this; accept it. Seek the Lord's guidance, ask mentors to speak life into you, get coaching, get direction, get purpose to your life. Don’t fight against yourself just start today with saying “I know I was made for more and I’m excited to be on the adventure of finding out what that is.” That statement in and of itself is a bridge thought that will help you take the first steps of growth towards your larger purpose.
Want Expert Help?
Having a coach helps you reframe your thought patterns effectively and efficiently.
So if you want accelerated change in your life, working with a coach is the fastest and most successful way to create true, sustainable change. This is the type of coaching we go deep on in the College of Confidence, so click here to join! This is where you’ll get my in-depth coaching along with the support of an entire community as you tackle people pleasing once and for all. If you’re interested in getting on my waiting list for private coaching, click here to apply.
Wherever you are in your confidence journey, and your detox of people-pleasing from your life, I’m cheering you on.
Take these tips and put them into practice. Remember, it’s the implementation of the knowledge that makes all the difference. You can do this by carving out 15-minutes/day of quiet reflection and journaling time and you will be amazed at the changes you see happen from the inside out. For more encouragement, check out my other resources on people-pleasing below.
Cheering you on,
The Confidence Podcast Episode #324 How to Be Free From People Pleasing
The Confidence Podcast Episode #436 How Not to Care: Detaching from People’s Opinions of You
The Confidence Podcast Episode #446 How to Find Yourself and Your Confidence
People Pleaser Syndrome is Keeping You Stuck, YouTube Video
Galatians 1:10: For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?
If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Colossians 3:23: Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.