When you constantly give more than you receive, your internal compass is often pulled towards external magnets such as needing validation or reassurance and focusing on pleasing others. Consistently putting other people first can be emotionally depleting and lead to a need to make others happy in order to avoid discomfort or pain.

You are not responsible for taking away or rescuing people from their feelings and pain nor is it possible for anyone to have that power. Each person has their own relationship with their emotions and each is responsible for their own healing. Engaging in behaviors that avoid or dismiss your own emotions (such as people pleasing) can have a great negative impact on your mental health.  

People pleasing is different from supporting others because support requires help, contribution and an equal relationship. Support is not the same as continuous sacrifice where your needs and self- worth feel unimportant and less deserving than that of another. When the driving force is a need to please, making others feel happy creates an internal battle. We become focused on gaining approval, love and validation from another person that, in the process, we neglect and abandon ourselves. 

Do you often find yourself saying “yes” to things you really want to say “no” to? or saying “yes” to things that you haven’t even thought about in order to decide if you want to say “yes” or “no”?

When you are focused on pleasing others, you may be fearful of

  • Not being liked
  • Being left out
  • Not being needed 
  • Not being worthy 
  • Being judged or criticized
  • Disappointing others 

If pleasing others comes naturally or automatically, you may be:

  • Overly critical of yourself
  • Having feelings of resentment and anger
  • Unsure of what you want and need
  • Having unhealthy boundaries with others 
  • Feeling alone and used 
  • Internalizing your stress
  • Tying your sense of self- worth to how others perceive you  

To change these patterns, you may want to reflect on why you are saying “yes” and/or  feel the need to say “yes”. Give some thought to the following: 

  • Identify the fear behind your behavior (What do you believe might happen if you say “no”?) 
  • What emotion or feeling are you avoiding by saying “yes”?
  • How can you cope with the discomfort of saying “no”?
  • What is the emotional cost of saying “yes”?

If you are not ready to share your feelings and thoughts with others, you can start by journaling your responses and what you would like to say when you honor your thoughts and feelings. Practice writing out how you can acknowledge your needs and wants on a daily basis. 

Examples of scripts: 

I would like to _______ . This is important to me because________________ 
I value ____________, therefore I have to say no to ____________________ 
I am happy to help, I can offer ________________________ but not ______________
I have committed myself to _________________, maybe next time.