Have you heard of the term ‘people pleaser’?

Perhaps you are one and didn’t realise it. I know I am one, an unintentional one too. I have always put others first, I’ve always gone out of my way to help others. It’s never been to show my knowledge, state my expertise, or to be a hero. It’s just when someone asks, I instantly (without thought) offer to help them. My answer was mostly yes, and rarely no.

People pleasers are defined as “one of the nicest and most helpful people you know. They never say “no.” You can always count on them for a favour. In fact, they spend a great deal of time doing things for other people.”

There is nothing wrong with being a people pleaser, except for the moment you stop caring for yourself, or when those you’ve been pleasing no longer need you. This is the moment you find yourself standing there wondering what you did wrong, why they don’t want to know you anymore, or why their attitude changed towards you.

I so get it. I have been there, time and time again.

It hurts.

It took me a long time to learn why. I found myself constantly replaying relationships, trying to identify what went wrong. Why did they suddenly stop … Inviting me? … Spending time with me? … Hanging out with me?

Why do I refer to myself as an unintentional people pleaser? It’s because I actually never realised that I was being one. It wasn’t until a friend told me. This is when everything made sense.

When my life changed to become a mother, and my family needs became my priority. Those I was constantly pleasing became a lesser priority. I was no longer meeting their needs, and the result was my exclusion. These people no longer needed me, because I wasn’t delivering.

It can be hurtful, because you feel used. It’s not their fault. And, in many ways, it wasn’t mine either. I had no idea I was being the ‘unintentional people pleaser’.

The greatest lesson I took from this was, identifying the role I was unintentionally playing. Learning to establish boundaries and recognise when I must and need to pull back in giving. Not to be mean, but put my focus and energy on my own family needs.

You see, people pleasing doesn’t apply to just one person or a group of people, it’s generally to all. The result when you constantly people please, is you give so much away. You lose yourself in the process, and when all is taken, you’re left with pretty much nothing for yourself and questions, like why?

People pleasers need boundaries. Boundaries aren’t the enemy; boundaries are your greatest resource to protect yourself from giving too much away at the expense of your own important needs.

As a people pleaser, I would often respond to a social media post, offering everything for nothing. Not a great thing if you’re running a business. These days, there have been times where I have found myself typing a response, I then stopped to re-read it and then press delete. Nowadays, I tell myself, to let others handle it. That I have other things I need to focus on. Otherwise, I’m the person there all hours of the night playing catch up, or always rushing my own things because I’ve given too much time to everyone else.

Those moment when I stop myself and pull back are my moments of empowerment, when I know I can give, but choose to hold my boundary, keep my focus on my own priority (not everyone else’s). I can ‘people please’ when I want to, but can mindfully choose when without compromising me.

And remember, establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries takes practice.  We will all trip up at one time or another. It’s okay, main thing is that we are aware of it when it happens, and we use that lesson to have a better go of taking control of what we want to give and not give next time. At the end of the day it’s you you’re compromising, no one else.

It’s lovely to be able to be able to help people, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of your own basic needs and survival.

Do you have any other tips? Share with us below.

We may get commissions for purchases made using links in this post. Learn more.
  • Stressed and at the end of my tether it took my doctor to point out that I was doing this and needed to stop so I could concentrate on me and my family.


  • it can be hard to learn to say no but start practicing with the small things and good luck to you!


  • I don’t have a problem saying no to people. My mum hates upsetting people. Unfortunately, she always has the opposite effect. Just go with what you can and want to do


  • I have to agree with you about neighbours not lingering. I think some of that is due to such high fences. We simply don’t see them in even in front yards. Some neighbours are just very quiet and “stick to themselves”. I love it when my neighbours just wave when the have driven out of their driveway or call out and say hello. You can be friendly speaking briefly about mutual things even if it’s just the weather, or something about an event that’s happening soon – could be school, local Christmas decorations or functions – or it could be traffic, shopping etc.


  • Having a baby helped me to learn better boundaries too! I was so much more aware of equal friendships, when to make the effort and when to say no.


  • Great read !!
    Think indeed there’s nothing wrong with helping each other out when you can, but you have to have your priority’s right and that is first yourself and your family.
    With a healthy self-esteem we can love even more and deeper.
    And yes, this is something we certainly want to teach our children.
    However I also found that there’s a bit of a tendency in society to focus only on yourself. I’ve lived in neighborhoods where people kept for themselves, people were sick or lonely and nobody knew anything about it !

    • It’s amazing how much our neighbours don’t mingle anymore. I grew up in a street where everyone knew and care about everyone else. I barely know any of neighbours, they don’t wave back or say hi when we do. Very strange. Yet all those who do, which are the elderly are the ones we’re always keeping a watchful eyes for, and offering lifts if they’re going to the local shops. This isn’t by any means related to people pleasing, this is just being our caring natural selves!


  • I loved reading this article and it’s my favourite article on this site for the week. I totally agree with you about not being a people pleaser because you will never ever please everybody and it can be such a waste of positive energy. Looking after your own needs and survival should always be your number one priority. The flow on effects to your family and friends when you stop being a people pleaser are numerous. You role model for your children and set boundaries that get respected when you put yourself first.


  • I feel there are times when you must be a people pleaser eg a friend, family member who let say, is going through chemo…you put yourself out there and do all you can but yes pleasing people all the time constantly for what ever the reason is body and soul damaging.

    • There are always exceptions to the rules. I totally agree with you. Last year my family endured a tough year with my brother fight bowel cancer. What you wouldn’t do for them in a heart beat. Happy to say after a year long battle he’s a surviver (although we nearly lost him half way).

      • I went down that same track last year too. After coming so very close to losing him (chemo had to be stopped temporarily) another 10 minutes ambulance ride getting to hospital he may not have still been here. Despite wearing compression stockings it did not prevent (3) clots. Fortuantely he has no little children – they are older. I know exactly how some people feel. How gut wrenching it is.


  • I agree with helping others but you and your family definitely come first!


Post a comment
Like Facebook page

LIKE MoM on Facebook

Please enter your comment below
Would you like to include a photo?
No picture uploaded yet.
Please wait to see your image preview here before hitting the submit button.
Your MoM account

Lost your password?

Enter your email and a password below to post your comment and join MoM:

You May Like


Looks like this may be blocked by your browser or content filtering.

↥ Back to top

Thanks For Your Star Rating!

Would you like to add a written rating or just a star rating?

Write A Rating Just A Star Rating