Please yourself

How does one stop being a ‘people pleaser’—but do it pleasantly?

Pleasers are thought to have developed their characteristics in childhood, probably influenced by stringent parental expectation and a deficit of attention or support. I don’t think that fairly describes my own upbringing as a child; my folks weren’t “bad” parents. It is true, though, they were pretty laissez-faire in their child-rearing approach, and, as a tendency, concerned with their own wants over ours.

I have spent my teen and adult years being a people pleaser (at least beyond the limits of my immediate family, as I am sure they’d attest) and worrying terribly about what others thought, whether I had upset them, about not being liked.

An article in Psychology Today gave a list of signs of the people please, summarised below, of which I tick (or hopefully ticked, past tense) eight. These are that you…

  1. pretend to agree with everyone.
  2. feel responsibility for how others feel.
  3. apologise a lot
  4. feel burdened by the things you have to do.
  5. can’t say no.
  6. feel uncomfortable when someone is angry with you.
  7. act like the people around you.
  8. need praise in order to feel good.
  9. go to great lengths to avoid conflict.
  10. fail to admit when your feelings are hurt.

Whilst tending to be empathetic, pleasers also are more likely to feel crushed by criticism and have low self-worth. It is draining.

Recent experiences at work have presented a choice: sit nicely and quietly (but seethe inwardly with hurt and resentment), or kick back, and risk being ‘disliked’ or labelled a trouble-maker as a result. I chose to do the latter, winning no friends and influencing no one, but I am not sorry. I have stood up for myself, refused to accept the unacceptable—or at least not without a fight, and been honest about feeling hurt. And I am now less afraid of disagreement with others. There is a particular person at work who now likes me a lot less, which is not ideal, but frankly I don’t care that much.

I have not quite managed the right balance yet of assertive yet calm and reasonable, true, but let’s hope it’s the start of a better, more self-confident future.

Don’t get me wrong, I do accept that at work my time is not my own. If we’re lucky, we will have jobs that we mostly enjoy (and I have been pretty lucky), but rarely in every single aspect, be it the admin, the unpaid overtime, the commute, petty irritations with colleagues, or something else that can stress us.

All the more important, therefore, to please ourselves in our down time.

I don’t think the importance of leisure time needs to be sold, even though amidst over-scheduled work hours, family responsibilities, and the bombardment of media via various digital devices it feels increasingly precious. Leisure isn’t wasted time, and isn’t necessarily about having ‘nothing to do’ (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing either). No, of course it is important for de-stressing and recharging.

For me, different non-working activities suit different needs, such as country walks to clear my head; gardening, cooking or baking to feel back in control; reading to escape a while. And more recently writing as an escape, too.

I have blogged before about the pressure to ‘write for the market’ in self-publishing, i.e. first analysing what is currently saleable in terms of market trends, then creating a publication to meet that. I am not suggesting that calculated approach is ‘wrong’—commercially, no doubt it’s very realistic. Just for me personally, I want to spend my precious free time and energy on something I enjoy, have an interest in, and do not have to ‘force’.

Guess I’ll never be rich then!

Now I have some notes to make, and I think I’ll take them out into the garden on such a lovely day.

Amy Morin, 10 Signs You’re a People-Pleaser in Psychology Today, retrieved 27 April 2019.
Sharon McCutcheon
Vincenzo Malagoli










28 thoughts on “Please yourself

  1. I enjoyed reading this. It’s incredible how easy it can be to slip into a people-pleasing mode without even realizing we’re doing it. I sometimes find it necessary to reorient myself. To shut out the noise for a bit and focus on what I really want, so that becomes my dominant vision. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point, the ‘truth bias’ that makes it easier to agree and avoid any risk of conflict. Good idea to reorient – the weekends make a big difference at the end of a working week., Thank you for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think for most of us, writing for the market is unsustainable. How can you hang on to the excitement needed to finish a novel when writing about something that doesn’t interest you? I’m with you…I choose not to force.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also comfort myself with the thought that once a novel is produced, the most recent market trend may be declining.
      But in short, there are so many chances and variables, I think we may as well write what we want.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m a step short of being a people pleasure. I’m non-confrontational. I really don’t care that much whether those around me are happy-that comes from inside–but I push back on being the cause of that. Even for irrational reasons. I’m trying to deal with that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like a good balance – there are times when, increasingly, I am thinking ‘anything left over I am not responsible for is therefore your problem.’


  4. 🤔I ticked 8 as well, 7&1 are just not me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Think we had the same ones we didn’t tick! I guess a tendency to people please isn’t the same as conformist.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I suppose the opposite of being a people pleaser are the bullies, in and out of vehicles, at work and elsewhere who barge through life without a worry about anyone else. Meanwhile some of us are busy apologising to the person on their phone who just knocked us off the pavement in front of a bus…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True too. Hence trying to get the balance I guess, like the difference between assertive and aggressive – not there yet, sometimes the ‘rottweiler’ comes out – needlessly!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A good one, Libre. Yes, by all means: do please yourself. Bullies from the schoolyard to the White House, have always thrived on Pleasers. While is great to be nice, and sometimes let some things slide (choose your battles), stand up for yourself. 🙂
    (We haven’t heard a word of Theresa May-be in the last fortnight since she got a new delay. Is she all right?)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I think people-respecter rather than people-pleaser is the balance to aim for, in addition to, as you say, choosing one’s battles (progress to be made).
      Not sure about our Dear Leader. She was on holiday (!), then still trying to get buy-in to her Brexit plan (!!), now perhaps planning for Mr Trump’s state visit. We all have our priorities…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like the idea of people-respecter. (Which is a two way street).
        as for the poor thing, she did deserve a holiday. Three years’ work for nothing warrants a rest, I daresay…
        As for the TrAmp, hadn’t he been to the UK once already? Better not make that a habit.


        1. Ah but Mr. T. wasn’t invited by the Queen that time… At least I think that’s the difference. ..

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Oh no? Do you mean he’s coming back? What is the police doing? Goodness gracious.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. London bought a large orange balloon to float – that’ll sort him.

              Liked by 1 person

  7. Exceptionally penned- definitely food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I was a people pleaser too and in the process of saying yes to all I kept saying no to my interests. And then one day I decided otherwise. And learned to say no. I love your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so kind, thank you for reading. Yes, saying no (again with assertiveness not aggression) is a huge step.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely. It is always a pleasure

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I tick some of those boxes, but thankfully, not all. I’m half a people pleaser?
    As for leisure…. what’s that?
    On the marketing approach, I don’t think I agree one should research before writing. what’s trending today may change next year – when the book is finally ready to be published. I’d say write the story you have and hope for the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you’re a well-balanced personally internally but could use more time for work/life balance externally!
      I agree on not ‘chasing the market’ – books can take a while to get to market, and the trend may have passed. Plus life’s too short to write something one doesn’t really want to, especially if you already have a day job.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. happy gardening!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Well stated!

    My mantra – “Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.”
    ― Anna Taylor

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brilliant quote, thank for sharing it.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close