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November 18, 2022


I get asked this question a lot in my workshops. And it’s no wonder that women are confused whether they are just being a nice person or being a people pleaser.

With all of the societal expectations placed on women to be pleasing and to meet the needs of others, combined with what we were raised to believe about ourselves and about the roles we are expected to play in our relationships, our view on this can get pretty messed up. 

So let’s get some clarity on this.

Let’s begin by acknowledging that all human beings want to feel loved and valued, especially in close relationships. This is because we are social creatures who want to belong and a sense of belonging is integral to our self esteem.  

As a result we will sometimes adapt our behaviour to create stronger social connections, whether it be in the context of our intimate, family, work or community relationships. And we can sometimes get this need met through helping others (aka; being “nice”), which means sacrificing some of our precious resources like; money, time and energy for the good of the other. 

What distinguishes helping others for the greater good (or “being nice”) and people pleasing is that people pleasing is very hard to stop.

A person with a strong urge to please others may believe that in order to be loved and accepted they must be and do whatever others want them to be and do. This means that they may cover up how they really feel and agree to do things they don’t want to do nor have the time for.

While they may feel good for doing something for someone else in the moment, this feeling is usually temporary and is overshadowed by feelings of exhaustion, frustration and resentment as they have fewer and fewer resources (money, time and energy) to take care of their own needs.

Learn some things people pleasers struggle with.

Here are some things that people pleasers struggle with:

  • Fear of rejection or not being liked 
  • Fear of coming across as “mean” 
  • Feeling selfish and guilty for putting our needs ahead of others 
  • Preoccupation with what others think and feel
  • Taking other people’s feelings and actions personally  
  • Neglecting personal needs 
  • Seeking and needing approval  
  • Getting stuck in relationships where you give more than you get 
  • A hyperactive sense of personal responsibility and subsequent overwhelm 

I was a people pleaser most of my life. And I wasn’t even aware of it. 

It wasn’t until I crashed into a dark hole of burnout and began to work on healing my relationship with myself that I was able to gain control over my people

pleasing tendencies (and it is an ongoing journey). 

Before burnout, I had essentially been living my life in a trance with no idea of who I really was and what I really wanted or needed. 

I realized that I defined my self-worth by my ability to make other people happy which meant disconnecting from what I wanted and needed and putting everyone else’s needs ahead of my own. And stuffing down my emotions with vices like television binge-watching, wine, and chocolate.

And if I did try to put myself first by asserting my needs, they would sometimes explode out of me at the most inopportune times due to repressed anger and resentment. 

Or… the whole process of communicating what I needed and wanted felt awkward, clumsy and selfish and I would beat myself up afterwards with feelings of guilt and shame. 

All of this discomfort would then cause me to revert back to my people pleasing behaviours because, as self-destructive as they were, they were what I knew and felt comfortable doing. 

And on and on it went until… BURNOUT! 

Looking back on it all I am grateful for the experience of burnout, because as strange as it sounds my experience with burnout transformed my life and brought me to a place of renewed passion and purpose.

Self-care is not selfish. Loving and honouring yourself is your birthright.

It forced me to and re-examine my life and it granted me the permission I needed to start making myself a priority which set me on a path towards loving and honouring myself in the way I needed to be loved.

Do you recognize any of your own people-pleasing tendencies in this post? 

Showing my beautiful soul sisters, just like you, how to overcome their people pleasing tendencies is what I do!

If you are ready to let go of people-pleasing and are ready for healing, please reach out to me. I offer a free 30 minute consultation and you can book it by hitting the button below.

And please remember Goddess… you deserve to be happy. Self-care is not selfish. Loving and honouring yourself is your birthright! 

About the Author

Shelley Wallace

I am a strengths based, solution focused life coach who has been practicing in the counselling/coaching field for more than 20 years. I have created and pioneered the 3-Step “Renew Your Vitality” Coaching System of live workshops, online courses, individual coaching sessions, and accountability groups which has created breakthrough results in the lives of my clients. I am an expert at empowering heart-centered individuals to transform their stress into greater focus, energy and happiness!

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