Personal Development,  Strong Mind

How to Stop People Pleasing and Choose Yourself

If you’re a people pleaser and you keep giving in to do things for other people that you don’t want to be doing. This article is for you! Stop people pleasing and choose yourself!

As a recovering people pleaser, I would like to ask you: Don’t you ever get sick and tired of saying yes to everything and everyone? Of doing things for others that you don’t really want to be doing?

Yes, I know you do. I’ve been there too.

You always try your best to make other people happy and you want to help wherever you can. And although there’s nothing wrong with helping other people, it becomes problematic when it goes at the expense of your own needs and well-being.

When you’re a people pleaser, you worry whether people like you, whether they are happy and if they feel good all the time. The thought of disappointing them, letting them down or being disliked scares you.

You’re constantly looking for approval and validation from others to make you feel good about yourself. Especially as a perfectionist, you don’t want to look like a bad or imperfect person….

In this process of trying to please everyone, I lost the connection with myself. I felt so insecure and I completely abandoned myself and my own needs. I realized that I was making all these other people happy, but that I still felt unhappy.

Sound familiar?

It’s time to take back control over your own life, to stop people pleasing and choose yourself!


1. Self-Awareness

Becoming aware of why you people please, is the first step to break the habit.

So dig deep and try to find out what’s underneath the people pleasing. Be honest with yourself: Why are you saying yes to helping someone if you don’t really feel like doing it?

Do you feel like the other person won’t like you anymore when you say no or that you’ll be rejected by them? Are you afraid to hurt or disappoint the other person by saying no? Or do you feel guilty for letting them down?

When you’re becoming more aware and having a good look at your behavior, try not to be judgmental towards yourself. Don’t get mad or frustrated for people pleasing, but look at it with compassion and an open mind.

2. Learn that Saying No is an Option

As a people pleaser, it can feel like you don’t have a choice when someone asks something of you. It feels like you HAVE to say yes and that saying no is not an option.

Well, I’ve got news for you: you DO have a choice.

You don’t have to do something just because someone asks you to. You can choose to do it or not. It’s not an obligation and you’re allowed to say no. If you don’t feel like doing it, that’s perfectly fine. 

Next time when someone asks you to do something, take some time to think about it. Tell the person you’ll get back to them and ask yourself if you want to help this person or not.

But more importantly, check with yourself if you want to do it for the right reason. If you want to help someone for validation, fear of rejection, fear of not being liked, fear of hurting or disappointing other people or feeling guilty, it’s probably best to say no.

If you find it difficult to say no, I’ve written a separate blogpost about how to say no without feeling guilty that will help you with that!

3. Identify Your Core Values and Wants

As people pleasers, we’re so good at prioritizing other people’s needs over our own needs. We spent a lot of time and energy making sure that other people are happy, and forget to check in with ourselves to mare sure that we’re happy and feel good.

You try to be everything to everyone and you sacrifice your own values and wants in order to please others. It’s in your nature to adapt to whatever that person wants, needs and thinks. You become something (a version of yourself that isn’t you) to someone in order to get the validation you need, to be liked and to not be rejected.

But if you try to be everything to everyone, how can you still be yourself? Slowly, you end up being a version of yourself that isn’t you. That isn’t true to who you are. That’s not authentic.

If you don’t know what your values are and what you truly want, it’s hard to make decisions that put yourself first instead of others. It’s hard to voice your own opinions and feelings. That’s why it’s so important to find out what is important to you. Ask yourself:

  • What are you values?
  • What do you find important?
  • What do you need in order to be happy?
  • What would you like to do more of?

If you can get clear about that, you can start to choose yourself first.


4. Set Clear Boundaries

When you know what your values are and what you find important, it becomes easier to set boundaries. But if you don’t communicate and express your boundaries, people won’t know where you stand and they can easily step over you.

To make sure that you don’t overstep your own boundaries, you need to be vocal about it. Voice your opinion, be clear about your needs and communicate how you feel. Be honest and kind about it.

I know that can be incredibly difficult and uncomfortable, but I promise you it gets easier with practice.

5. Accept that not Everyone Will Like it

When you always say yes and do what is asked of you, people get used to that version of you. People form their expectations of you based on what you’ve done for them in the past. So when you stop people pleasing, choose yourself and start to set boundaries, people will have to adjust to that.

Unfortunately, not everyone will understand it and not everyone will like the new version of you.

People can feel hurt, disappointed or uncomfortable because you are setting boundaries and you’re not meeting the expectations they have of you. They might express those feelings to you to try to make you feel bad about choosing yourself.

For me, that would always trigger me. it made me want to run back to that person immediately to help them out because obviously I hurt them and let them down. I mean: What if they reject me?

Can you relate?

When that happens to you, remind yourself that you are not responsible for other people’s feelings, just for your own. If they can’t accept you for who you are when you’re not people pleasing, that’s something for them to deal with and work on.

You can’t make everyone happy, and that’s okay. And if that means losing people or having to cut people out of your life: so be it.

6. Feel What you Feel

Breaking with the identity of being a people pleaser, can cause a lot of different emotions and feelings to come up.

You might feel selfish for choosing yourself and setting boundaries. You might feel guilty for not helping someone out. Or perhaps you are sad because it feels like you disappointed someone, let them down or hurt them.

These are some of the emotions that came up for me the first few times I set boundaries. It was intense and I felt horrible, but now I know that’s normal and it’s part of the process.

Take some time to feel your emotions and think about it. Try to put things into perspective by asking yourself: Have I done anything wrong by choosing myself and setting boundaries? Is it something I should feel bad for?

NO, of course not! You can actually be really freaking proud of yourself for that.

You don’t have to do things that you don’t want to do. You can (and should!) come up for yourself and your needs. And, most importantly, you don’t need other people’s approval or validation for that. Just your own.


7. Work on Self-Love

In the end, it all comes down to self-love.

When you learn to be loving towards yourself, you slowly eliminate the need to people please. You won’t feel the need anymore to look for outside validation to feel good about yourself. Instead, you know that you are enough and your self-worth doesn’t depend on pleasing other people. 

When you learn to love yourself, you’ll know that it’s not selfish to choose yourself and care about your own needs. Your needs are just as important as other people’s needs and you don’t have to feel bad about choosing yourself.

Over time, it becomes easier to stop people pleasing and choose yourself and to be vocal about what you want and need. You’ll notice that your motivation for helping people shifts. Instead of feeling like you NEED to help people out of a fear of not being liked, you’ll WANT to help people from a place of love.

Just one more thing…

People pleasing is a tough habit to break. It takes practice and sometimes setting boundaries and choosing yourself is easier than other times. However, as with everything: the more you practice, the better it goes. Just don’t beat yourself up when you slide back into people pleasing mode once in a while. It happens.

It’s a journey and you need to be compassionate towards yourself along the way. I’ve come a long way and I hope that with this article I’ve been able to help you move forward on your journey to stop people pleasing and choose yourself too.

Now I want to hear from you: What’s the thing you’re struggling with most when it comes to choosing yourself and setting boundaries?

How to stop people pleasing and choose yourself!

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