Are you a people pleaser? Here's how to know & what to do about it

We all want our loved ones to be happy, and most of us will do whatever is in our power to ensure this happens.

But what if ensuring the happiness of others overtakes your need to fulfil your own wellbeing?

A people pleaser is someone who consistently seeks to gain the approval, validation, or acceptance of others, often to the detriment of their own needs, values, and boundaries.

People pleasers are characterised by their tendency to prioritise the desires and preferences of others over their own, frequently going to great lengths to make others happy, avoid conflict, or gain external validation.

While it is completely normal to have an element of "people pleasing" in your relationships, if this behaviour becomes excessive, you may struggle to assert yourself and set boundaries, which can negatively impact relationships with those around you, and yourself.


How do I know if I'm a "people pleaser"?

Determining whether or no you're a people pleaser takes a certain level of self-awareness. In practical terms, this self-awareness requires both awareness of your  own emotions (and their triggers), as well as awareness of how this impacts your relationships with others.

We all have certain roles we play in a variety of relationships. Mother, sister, daughter, friend, neighbour - the list is endless.

Each of the relationships roles you play will have different requirements and different levels of intimacy. Therefore, recognising the triggers for certain emotions may be easier or more difficult depending on the circumstances.

For example, if your neighbour complains about young kids being too loud in the street, but you have young kids yourself, it would be easy to make the connection between their passive aggressive comment and your annoyance.

However, on the other hand, if your partner makes a passing comment that triggers a deep-seated emotional response within you, it may be more difficult to pinpoint what specifically about their comment triggered you.


15 Questions to Determine If You're A People Pleaser

  1. Do I often say yes to requests or favours, even when I'd rather decline?

  2. Am I afraid of disappointing or upsetting others, even at the expense of my own needs?

  3. Do I find it challenging to assert my own opinions, desires, or boundaries in conversations or decisions?

  4. Do I frequently prioritise the needs and wants of others over my own, sometimes to the point of neglecting my own well-being?

  5. Is my self-esteem closely tied to the approval and validation I receive from others?

  6. Do I feel anxious, guilty, or fearful when I think I might have disappointed someone?

  7. Have I tolerated mistreatment, disrespect, or unfair treatment from others without addressing it directly?

  8. Do I go out of my way to avoid conflict, even when it means suppressing my own feelings or needs?

  9. Am I often the one who takes on extra work or responsibilities in group settings or relationships?

  10. Have I noticed a pattern of feeling overwhelmed or drained because I consistently prioritise others over myself?

  11. Do I frequently seek external validation or reassurance from others to feel secure or worthy?

  12. Is it challenging for me to express my true thoughts, feelings, or preferences without fear of rejection or criticism?

  13. Have friends or family members ever commented on my tendency to be a people pleaser or to put others' needs ahead of my own?

  14. Do I feel like I have lost touch with my own wants and desires because I am constantly focused on meeting the expectations of others?

  15. Have I ever felt resentful or frustrated because I did something solely to please someone else and it did not align with my own values or desires?


What to do next

If you answered "yes" to most of the questions above, then it sounds like you have people-pleasing tendencies.

But don't worry!

Just because you have people pleasing tendencies, it does not mean you cannot change your behaviours to align a little bit more with what your needs are.

Using the list below, begin to consider the underlying causes and potential triggers of your people pleasing.

With this understood, you can begin to view yourself (and your tendencies) in a more compassionate light, while also making a detailed plan that fits with your specific experiences, to tackle the people pleasing tendencies.


  1. Reflect on your motivations:

    • Ask yourself: Why you do certain things or make specific choices? Are they primarily driven by a desire to make others happy or to avoid their disapproval?

  2. Evaluate your boundaries:

    • Think about whether you have set clear and healthy boundaries in your relationships. If not, what boundaries could you set in order to address and support your own needs?

  3. Examine your emotional responses:

    • Reflect on whether your self-esteem is closely tied to the approval and validation you receive from others.
    • Ask yourself: Do I experience extreme anxiety, guilt, or fear at the idea of receiving criticism or facing the possibility of disappointing others?

  4. Analyze your decision-making:

    • Consider whether you often make decisions based on what you think others expect from you, rather than what you genuinely want or believe is right.

  5. Assess your relationships:

    • Evaluate your relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. 
    • Consider whether you have difficulty expressing your true thoughts, feelings, or preferences in these relationships.

  6. Seek feedback:

    • Ask close friends or family members for their perspective on your behaviour. They may provide valuable insights into when you tend to people-please, and what situations may trigger that response.
    • Be open to constructive criticism and feedback, as it can help you gain a clearer understanding of your behaviour.


Breaking the habit of people pleasing can be a gradual process. Just think - you're asking your brain to rewire a natural response that has likely been ingrained for years!

It takes time, practice, and patience to create new, healthier patterns of behaviour and thinking, but it is never too late to start!

Be patient with yourself and acknowledge that everyday (even days with mistakes or setbacks) are a positive step in your progress.

If you find it challenging to make these changes on your own, consider adding a guided journal into your routine. Our guided journals are backed by therapists and mental health professionals, and have been designed according to positive psychology and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to tackle a variety of mental health concerns - from anxiety to low self-esteem


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