Are You a People Pleaser?

By Dr. Patricia Adson

Do you feel insecure? Do you have trouble making decisions until you find out what everyone else wants? Do you have an out of control schedule that accommodates everyone but you? Is it hard for you to say “no”? Are you exhausted trying to make everyone happy? If so you might be suffering from the People Pleasing Syndrome.

Of course you want to please, youíre a nice person after all. It gives you pleasure when people approve of what you do and say and that makes you to want to please them even more. The desire to please is human, built in to the hard wiring in our social species. To make matters worse, we are rewarded handsomely all of our lives for pleasing parents, teachers, partners, friends and bosses. Why wouldnít you want to please?

There comes a time, however, when this useful social skill and coping strategy turns into a handicap and you realize how much effort it takes to focus outward all the time and please everyone but yourself. †If you find yourself in this situation itís time to turn your attention inward, take seriously your responsibility for self-care, and put yourself into the equation. Fortunately, this is something you can usually do without professional help by looking at people pleasing not as a syndrome needing professional help, but as an essential part of growing up.

  1. Examine your behavior. Become conscious of what you do automatically. Note how often your default response is geared to whether or not others will like you. This doesnít mean you have to stop being polite and considerate of other people. Doing something nice for the sake of doing it, without expecting anything in return isnít people pleasing, but always polling the delegation before you speak keeps you stuck and wears you out.
  2. Determine what you really want. While this is a difficult issue to tackle all at once you can start small by asking yourself what you like or dislike. Take time for self-reflection. Formulate opinions. Make this a daily practice.
  3. Commit yourself to making this change. Look at the consequences of not changing. Are you willing to live with chronic exhaustion and end up pleasing no one?
  4. Look at the potential rewards. Imagine the freedom of a schedule under control. Think of how much more energy youíll have when you donít have to check with everyone else to figure out where you stand.

Giving up being a people pleaser doesnít mean you have to turn into a people “dis-pleaser.” Saying “yes” to yourself doesnít mean saying “no” to everyone else, nor is it being selfish. Saying “yes” to yourself is being responsible and no matter how much you try to please them one else can do it for you!


Dr. Patricia Adson is a psychologist and coach specializing in personal balance, women in transition, and life purpose, and the author of A Princess and Her Garden (December 2011). Learn more at


Ely Q.
Ely Q6 years ago

I would like to be all the opposite!! I'll work on that this year ;)

Barbara DeFratis
Barbara DeFratis6 years ago

Yes, I am a people pleaser, but I am learning to be myself, which for a while I could not do, since I was married to a controller. The way that I tried to keep the peace was by do what I was told as I was told, since when he was drunk; he would get very angry.

sandra m.
Past Member 6 years ago

I like to help out other people when I can,but I do say no. Other family members have a hard time saying no and that can make for sticky situations....
However,it's always in the way you say something that can make a world of difference.

Lois Edwards
Lois E6 years ago

I find real pleasure in helping, or doing for others, but I do know where to draw the line.

Brook J.
Brook J6 years ago

I feel I aim to please people as I derive pleasure from that, but I am not insecure and I am good at drawing boundaries. Being a nurturing person also leaves you in this category and the main takehome may to remember that if you do not take care of yourself first and foremost (needs, happiness, alone time) than you are not really good for anyone else.

Enjoy yourself so that others may enjoy your light as well -- without taking it from ya!

diane c.

I am definitely a people pleaser but I am learning to love myself more!

Naomi M.
Naomi Miskimins6 years ago

Thanks. I'd have to say I'm a people pleaser.

Chad A.
Chad Anderson6 years ago

It is important to get along with others, but it is too easy to go too far. Americans value independence to a fault, but we should remember that we have to think of others around us, too.

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B6 years ago


Chelsea M.
Chelsea M6 years ago

I almost never consider what people will think of me to do things. I get made fun of at school for teaching pottery sometimes. People can be so stupid.