5 Traps That People Pleasers Fall Into

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People Pleaser = someone with an underlying urge to make others happy and to be seen in a positive light

When asked where you want to go for dinner, do you find yourself saying “I don’t mind, wherever you want to go” – even though you know you’ll hate the place they will choose? Or do you give up the comfiest seat for someone else, even though you’ve got back pain that day? Do you have such an urge to make others happy and not want anyone to think badly of you? Then you’re probably a people pleaser. Read on for 5 traps people pleasers fall into…

1. Organising your life round others

image of a journal planner laying open with pink background plus a black closed book in the corner

A common trap people pleasers fall into in relationships is they start organising their life around another person in a bid to make them happy. Whilst it’s natural to want to please a new partner, or a new friend, people pleasing can go too far when you’re changing the structure of your life, or even changing yourself around someone else. In a healthy friendship or relationship, you are two separate people with different hobbies, likes and dislikes. It’s is ok to be yourself.

2. Not being able to say no

Image of two hands, one upturned and the other turned down with the work No! in the middle. All on a blue background

If you’re a people pleaser then probably one of the hardest things for you will be saying no to people. So if your boss keeps piling on the work and you can’t say no, or your needy friend keeps calling you at 3am even though they know you have to be up early, you’re liable to burn out.

Value your own time as highly as anyone else’s and set some boundaries. Saying no won’t make people hate you. In fact, putting in boundaries can help make relationships better as you both know where you stand.

Start by saying no to something small, just notice how it feels to do it. It’s likely to be very uncomfortable at first. But, with practice, it will become easier.

If you’d like to read more about this, My article 5 Reasons Why You Can’t Say No may give you some more insight.

3. Keeping the Peace

Image of a person in a rainmac facing away from the camera looking at a grey sky

Sometimes people pleasing can make you stay in relationships that aren’t working. And in order to keep the peace you’ll avoid potentially difficult discussions that maybe ought to be had.

In friendships you may feel like you’re the one who always backs down, in order to not cause an argument. But what do you really want? Listen to yourself for a moment. What do you need?

It’s important to be yourself in any relationship so, if you’re constantly trying to people please, its unlikely you’re bringing your true self to the table.

4. Apologising too often

Image of scrabble tiles spelling out Please Forgive Me on a beige background

The likelihood is that, when you were young, you had it drummed into you to say sorry when you did something wrong. Doing this is a great way of starting to repair arguments. But, do you find yourself apologising all the time? When someone bumps into you? Or when you’re saying no to someone?

People pleasers often fall into the trap of blaming themselves constantly or feel like they have to apologise for their very existence. Is this you? You don’t have to apologise for taking up space, or just being you. Practice your self care to send yourself the message that you’re worth it, and don’t apologise for it!!

See my 5 Self Care Tips for some ideas.

5. Losing yourself

image of yellow fabric with orange, red stripes and the words printed in black read Just do You

People pleasers often fall into the trap of losing themselves in their bid to make others happy. The more you mould yourself to what you think others want to see, the further you get from who you really are. Over time this can get so ingrained that you don’t even know your real self underneath and it can easily lead to codependent relationships. Thinking like this reinforces an irrational belief that you’re not worthy and your needs are not as important.

Try to start asking yourself what you really want or need in a given moment. Start recognising when you minimise your needs to please someone else. Chances are they really wouldn’t mind if you chose the restaurant, or took the comfier seat that day. Practice asking for what you want.

Amy is a counsellor specialising in neurodivergence and the founder of Newglade Counselling. She has created a team of neurodivergent counsellors who work online and face to face around Canterbury, Kent. Amy also provides parent support sessions, clinical supervision and delivers training in therapy and neurodivergence. For more information about our services contact us here

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