Stop People-Pleasing: A Slew of Tips

People-pleasing is not as positive as it sounds to some. The idea is to stop people-pleasing, at least if it’s your priority in life.

What is a people-pleaser? “A people-pleaser is a person who puts others needs ahead of their own. This type of person is highly attuned to others and often seen as agreeable, helpful, and kind, but people-pleasers can also have trouble advocating for themselves, which can lead to a harmful pattern of self-sacrifice or self-neglect” (Verywellmind.com).

In 2000 psychologist Harriet B. Braiker put a spotlight on the dangers of a certain addiction not commonly addressed as such. Her book The Disease To Please: Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome included a list of “The Ten Commandments of People-Pleasing” (which of course are actually what not to do):

  1. I should always do what others want, expect, or need from me.
  2. I should take care of everyone around me whether they ask for help or not.
  3. I should always listen to everyone’s problems and try my best to solve them.
  4. I should always be nice and never hurt anyone’s feelings.
  5. I should always put other people first, before me.
  6. I should never say “no” to anyone who needs or requests something of me.
  7. I should never disappoint anyone of let others down in any way.
  8. I should always be happy and upbeat and never show any negative feelings to others.
  9. I should always try to please other people and make them happy.
  10. I should try never to burden others with my own needs or problems.

Social psychologist Susan Newman‘s The Book of No (2017) is also about this approval-seeking syndrome and ways to stop it. Psychologist Melanie Greenberg: “In this updated edition…Newman offers research and immensely practical tools to help us set boundaries and stop people-pleasing…Along with each scenario are specific dialogues that demonstrate exactly what to say. The ‘no’ responses are right on target―assertive and clear, yet respectful. So many of us struggle to skillfully set boundaries without hurting our relationships. This book is just what we need!”

Margaret Tartakovsky’s article on this topic lists 21 ways you can stop people-pleasing. These include such actions as stalling for time before you say yes or no to a request, setting a time limit on your commitments, use a mantra to help curb your impulses to help, refrain from offering excuses and apologies, take baby steps, recognize the rewards of saying no, keep track of your changes, and “realize that you can’t be everything to everyone.”

But let’s not end there. Dr. Susan Biali has more advice, per a relatively recent Psychology Today post. Her seven tips on how to stop people-pleasing include cultivating awareness of your patterns, knowing the difference between goodwill and pleasing, understanding the roots of your behavior, recognizing the bad feelings that come with your actions, not viewing people-pleasing as the opposite of being selfish, paying attention to your posture, and getting professional help.

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