Is People Pleasing Holding You Back?

You love people and you like to make them happy as much as you can. You don’t want to let them down.

All good, right?


Hate to break it to you, but it’s REALLY not.

You see, just like perfectionism, which by all means appears to be great…
People pleasing does more harm than good.

Let me explain…


First off, let’s break it down…

What exactly IS people pleasing (and why is it so bad?)

There’s a super thin “line” between doing things to make other people happy, and feeling awesome about it.
And then there’s doing things (or not doing things) that totally go against your heart.

Why do we people please, then?

Simple: to keep the peace, avoid a scene or not disappoint anyone.

And that’s where resentment, frustration, anger and stress comes in.
Which is really scary.

Because depression can stem from all of these.

Let’s look at three common people-pleasing scenarios, quick…

1)  You let others STEAL your hard work

Say you’re in a job where you feel boxed in, like you could be doing more.

So you do… You come up with all these cool ideas for a big project the team is busy working on.

You present it to your boss. Not much happens, until a few days later when she totally steals your idea and takes credit for your hard work. But, because you don’t want to upset her (in case she picks on you) – or cause a scene, you say nothing.

Hello frustration.

You stop bothering with ideas and now you dread going to work.

2)  You put your big DREAMS ON HOLD

Let’s say you have this great idea to start your very own food blog…

Because you LOVE baking.

So does your friend – it’s actually something you both enjoy doing together.

So, over the last year, she’s been harping on about starting a blog, but she’s never done anything about.
You REALLY want to start your own food blog, but you know she won’t be happy about it.

For one simple reason: She’s a little jealous and can’t handle when others succeed.

So you put your foodie blog dreams on hold.

Because you don’t want to start a fight or lose this friendship.

Hello resentment.

3)  Always saying YES to things you don’t want to do

Say you’re an introvert and you really can’t deal with big social events.

Only, your friends insist on having a big monthly braai to catch up with everyone all at once.

You get so anxious before this event because you feel like you have to become a different person once you’re there.
If you could have your way, you’d MUCH rather just have a one-on-one coffee chat with your friend every month.

But you go anyway, because you don’t want to hurt your friend’s feelings.

You dread going, you don’t really have fun, and you feel disconnected.

Hello anxiety.

It’s not being true to who you are. It’s saying no to things that you really want, and it’s saying yes to things that you really don’t want. Basically, it’s…

  • Not asking for help when you need it, because you don’t want to appear weak.
  • Not communicating what you want or don’t want, because you’re scared.
  • Trying to make everyone happy all the time and thinking that’s a good thing.
  • Putting yourself LAST.
  • Crossing over the selfless “line” – going against who you are and what you want.
  • Not taking care of yourself and your well-being.


Listen, I’m learning this one too…

Because I grew up my whole life thinking people pleasing was a GOOD thing. And let me tell you, this isn’t an overnight fix (sorry to burst your bubble), but, I swear, it’s doable.

It really is, I promise.

I’ll be honest though, it SUCKS.

It’s really not fun letting other people down or hurting their feelings unintentionally.

But you know?

It’s about communication, being totally honest, and doing what’s best for YOU.

Yes, I know this sounds selfish. IT IS.  Self care and being authentic usually is. It’s a GOOD thing. Know that if you’re a people pleaser and want to break the cycle, it’s going to be a little tough at times.

And it won’t be perfect… It’s going to take time.

It’s a daily habit. Tiny steps…

Start Breaking The Habit…


Listen, we ALL have dreams.

It doesn’t matter if you’re creative or not. It’s what keeps us going and it’s what gives us hope.

Maybe you want to travel or start a family.
Or, maybe you want to get a new job or buy a house.
Maybe you want to start a non-profit or your own food blog.

Without dreams or hope, life’s pretty miserable or boring.

We all have our own dreams and we all have our own BOUNDARIES…
And these just depend on your priorities and your personality.

For example, as an introvert, making “me time” and limiting social events is a biggie.

Not 100% sure what your dreams and boundaries are?

Let’s simplify it a bit…

Here’s what you can do:

Block off an hour or two over a weekend and get real with your WHY in life.


  • What inspires you?
  • What upsets you?
  • When do you feel frustrated?

What’s holding you back from living the kind of life you imagined?

Write it out in a notebook or on a Word Doc.

Get totally honest (you’re not showing this to anyone – this is for you).

Next, choose one people-pleasing habit you want to break RIGHT NOW. Something that’s been niggling at you. Something that you feel is holding you back.

For instance..

Let’s look at those 3 people-pleasing examples from earlier on…

1) Boss stealing your ideas and preventing career growth.
BREAK IT: Talk to your boss about it one on one. If that doesn’t work, at least you tried and stood up for yourself. If it becomes an issue, you can always look for another job.

2) Friend who resents others’ success.
BREAK IT: Have an honest heart-to-heart with your friend. Explain your dreams.

Maybe she could feature a recipe a month on your blog?
Or, maybe she’s too scared to do it alone and needs some help.
Maybe you two will create this amazing food blog with a YouTube channel. Imagine…

3) Going to big socials on a regular basis that you don’t want to.
BREAK IT. Chat to your friends and tell them it makes you uncomfortable. Book the coffee dates!


There’s a common theme going on here…


Why are we always so scared of what others will think of us? Or of letting them down?

Because, truth? In most cases, it’s really not as bad as we make it out to be.

Quick recap…

If you’re a people pleaser and tired of letting other people dictate your life, talk it out first.

Here are a few other things you can try:


  1. Ask for help when you need it.
  2. Say no to things you don’t want to do.
  3. Delegate.
  4. Express your feelings to those who matter most.
  5. Say yes to opportunities that set your soul on fire.
  6. Speak up about things that matter to you.
  7. Be honest about your boundaries – with yourself and others.
  8. Limit things that stress you out (like big socials, for example).
  9. Make daily time for YOU aka self care.
  10. Stop apologising for being who you are.

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2 Replies to “Is People Pleasing Holding You Back?”

  1. Hey Bill! It’s crazy how much time we spend trying to please everyone else, hey? I wish they taught this kind of thing at school. Maybe they do now, but in any case – I’m glad we’ve got to the point of switching it around. Have a great weekend my friend 🙂

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