People pleasing occurs when a person puts his or her wants and needs aside to please another person. An example of people pleasing includes saying, “I don’t care, whatever you want” when someone asks what restaurant you’d like to have lunch at, even though you really do have a preference about where you’d like to eat. Another example would be allowing a friend to borrow some money when doing so is going to create a financial hardship for you.

People pleasing tendencies are often associated with low self-esteem and passive or passive-aggressive communication styles. They can lead to hurt feelings and resentments that negatively affect a person’s relationships. In reality, people pleasing can have serious, negative consequences.

So how does someone who struggles with people pleasing begin to overcome this issue? People pleasing tendencies are best addressed through setting boundaries, advocating for your needs, and addressing underlying issues that contribute to these behaviors. More detailed information on these techniques and how to use them to stop people pleasing is outlined below.

Set Healthy Boundaries

Setting healthy boundaries is a helpful way to ensure that you no longer do things you don’t want to do. In short, setting healthy boundaries is saying “no” when you don’t want to do something. Those who engage in people pleasing tendencies often have a hard time saying no because of irrational beliefs about what setting boundaries will mean for their relationships.

For example, someone may be fearful of saying no when a friend asks to borrow money because of an assumption that the friend will abandon them. Challenge irrational fears by using logic and evidence in order to develop a rational and realistic idea of a more likely outcome of saying no.

Advocate for Your Needs

Whereas setting healthy boundaries helps you say “no” when you don’t want to do something, advocating for your needs allows you to ask for what you do need or want. Maybe you’re not feeling well and need to take the day off of work, but you’re approaching a big deadline and therefore feel bad staying home. Advocating for your needs encourages you to put your needs first and ask for the time off because it is what’s best for you. If you notice yourself feeling bad or guilty when you advocate for your needs, identify how your meeting your needs can also benefits others. For example, calling out of work when you’re sick prevents coworkers from getting sick. It is what is best for you AND them.

Address Underlying Issues

Low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression all contribute to people pleasing tendencies. If these underlying issues are not addressed, people pleasing tendencies will continue to be a problem in your life. You can address low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression through therapy. Therapists are able to suggest coping skills you can implement in your day-to-day life to address and overcome these issues. Therapists can also help you practice ways of overcoming people pleasing tendencies and help you problem solve any issues that come up as you work to overcome these tendencies.

If you struggle with people pleasing behavior, therapy may be beneficial for you. It can help you learn how to establish boundaries and maintain healthy relationships. Find a therapist near you at one of Pyramid Healthcare’s outpatient locations.

Author's Bio: 

Desiree Patton is a Media Correspondent for Pyramid Healthcare, a provider of treatment for adults and teens suffering from addiction or substance abuse, as well as individuals with mental health disorders.