In a world driven by social interactions and a desire for acceptance, it’s not uncommon for individuals to find themselves trapped in the cycle of people-pleasing.

Whether it’s a conscious effort to avoid conflict or an unconscious desire for approval, people-pleasing can significantly impact one’s well-being and personal growth. In this blog, we’ll delve into the concept of people-pleasing, exploring its definition, signs, causes, risks, and most importantly, how to break free from its grip.


People pleasing, also known as “approval-seeking behavior,” refers to the tendency to prioritize the needs and desires of others over one’s own, often at the expense of personal well-being. It involves an excessive desire to gain approval, avoid rejection, and maintain harmonious relationships with others. People pleasers often go to great lengths to make others happy, neglecting their own needs and sacrificing personal boundaries.

Signs of People Pleasing

Difficulty saying “no”:
People pleasers find it challenging to decline requests or assert their needs, fearing it will upset or disappoint others.

Constant need for validation:
Individuals seeking approval rely heavily on external validation to boost their self-worth and feel accepted.

People pleasers tend to take on more responsibilities than they can handle, often leaving little time for themselves.

Avoidance of conflict:
Conflict is seen as uncomfortable and threatening, leading people pleasers to avoid confrontation and suppress their true opinions or feelings.

Neglecting personal boundaries:
People pleasers often disregard their own limits, tolerating mistreatment or allowing others to take advantage of their kindness.

Causes of People Pleasing

Childhood upbringing:
Growing up in an environment where one’s worth was dependent on meeting others’ expectations can foster a lifelong pattern of people-pleasing.

Fear of rejection:
The fear of being abandoned, disliked, or criticized can drive individuals to prioritize others’ needs to ensure their acceptance and avoid potential rejection.

Low self-esteem:
Individuals with low self-esteem may seek external validation as a means of bolstering their own self-worth.

Cultural and societal influences:
Societal norms, cultural values, and gender roles can place pressure on individuals to conform, leading to people-pleasing tendencies.

Risks of People Pleasing

Burnout and stress:
Constantly putting others’ needs before one’s own can lead to exhaustion, stress, and depletion of personal resources.

Neglected personal growth:
By constantly prioritizing others, people pleasers may neglect their own goals, aspirations, and personal development.

Resentment and dissatisfaction:
Suppressing one’s own needs and desires over time can lead to feelings of resentment, dissatisfaction, and a loss of personal identity.

Unhealthy relationships:
People pleasing can attract individuals who exploit kindness and exploit the pleaser’s willingness to accommodate others.

People pleasers often struggle with being true to themselves, as their actions and decisions are driven by external expectations rather than their own values and desires.

How to Stop People Pleasing

Recognize and acknowledge the patterns of people pleasing in your behavior and its impact on your well-being.

Set boundaries:
Learn to establish clear boundaries by saying “no” when necessary and prioritizing your own needs without guilt.

Build self-esteem:
Cultivate self-worth by practicing self-care, engaging in activities that bring you joy, and celebrating your own achievements.

Practice assertiveness:
Learn to express your thoughts, opinions, and desires respectfully and assertively, even in potentially uncomfortable situations.

Seek support:
Reach out to trusted friends, family, or professionals who can guide and encourage as you work to break free from people-pleasing habits.

When it’s time to seek help

When people-pleasing patterns deeply affect your well-being, seeking help can be highly beneficial. It’s important to understand that people-pleasing is rooted in trauma responses and coping mechanisms. When seeking assistance, it’s crucial to work with a trauma-informed professional. As an accredited trauma-informed coach, I focus on uncovering the underlying causes of adult behaviors and providing targeted processes to address them. I have personally embarked on a transformative journey to overcome people-pleasing, gaining profound insights into the conditioning and fears that hindered my authentic self-expression. My approach is designed to meet you where you are in your people-pleasing journey, offering practical solutions to alleviate immediate symptoms and empowering self-driven exploration into the root causes. If desired and when you’re ready, we can engage in one-on-one sessions to delve into your trauma story and unravel the blocks using my unique dot-joining process. Remember, seeking assistance demonstrates strength and a proactive commitment to reclaiming your autonomy and living a fulfilling life.

People pleasing can be a challenging habit (read coping mechanism) to overcome because it’s intrinsically linked to your relationship with safety. That relationship with safety was created when you were little while your brain was developing, which is why sometimes hearing that people pleasing is a safety valve doesn’t sound rational. With self-awareness, practice, and a commitment to self-care, it is possible to break free from its grip. By valuing your own needs and setting healthy boundaries, you can cultivate a more authentic and fulfilling life, building genuine connections based on mutual respect and understanding. Remember, your own happiness and well-being are just as important as those of others…

And, with all my work and teachings, you are only ONE unorchestrated event or aha away from living your best life.

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