The Antidote to People-Pleasing

Excerpt from Chapter 6 of STEAL HIS HEART, SAVE YOUR LIFE (just not in that order)

Growing up, I was such a chronic people-pleaser that one of my middle-school teachers teased me about it on a regular basis, during class. As an adult, this behavior transitioned into my friendship and dating relationships. The following are some revelations that helped me re-frame the act of people-pleasing as a poor strategy for winning people over so that I could move on to better, more authentic strategies.


• People-pleasing behavior is often a route to unintentionally enabling the needy behavior of others. Chronic givers attract chronic takers and reinforce the reward of taking. People-pleasers often wonder why they feel used: this is why.

• People-pleasing behavior creates relationship conflict that can only be avoided by authentic, respectful communication. When your unexpressed needs or expectations remain unaddressed by your partner, you may begin to resent them. When this resentment inevitably builds to the point of an emotional outburst, your partner will be blind-sided, genuinely surprised, and perhaps even question your sanity.

• People-pleasing behavior sets a poor example for other women, or girls, in your life that may look to you as a role model. It supports a false belief that it’s necessary to put your personal needs aside to win people over.

• When people-pleasing behavior pays off, it only creates short-term likability and often for the wrong reasons.

• Left unchecked, people-pleasing behavior can activate a continuous, subconscious program of the martyr archetype. A martyr is someone who voluntarily suffers for what they believe to be a greater cause. Over-running this subconscious program will make you an expert at creating your own misery. It subconsciously trains people around you to assume that you either don’t want help or you don’t appreciate help and prefer suffering. Then, when you do need someone, there’s no one around.

• Articulating your uniqueness allows you to be visible to others and remembered by them. Consciously avoiding the very self-expression that sets you apart results in increasing your invisibility.

• If you can politely and comfortably say “No” when something isn’t a good fit for you, you will be infinitely more respected by most people. But, if people-pleasing intentions have you saying “Yes” when you really want to say “No” or even “Maybe,” you could earn a reputation for being a doormat and you’ll be treated as such.

Moving beyond people-pleasing behavior and into authentic, respectful communication and actions allows you to be you, allows you to be respected by peers and colleagues, and will allow you to enjoy high-quality romantic relationships.