Why do we become people pleasers?

We all have reasons for doing things. It might be because we’re sticklers for following rules, or perhaps we avoid difficult situations and emotions by constantly focusing on the positives. Maybe our motivations come from a restless spirit or a drive to keep control and order – but for some of us, we become people pleasers.

It may not be in every area of our life, but in certain situations, we may find ourselves defaulting to keeping everyone around us happy, often at the cost of our own happiness. It’s nice to be accommodating, but auto-accommodating can be exhausting.

If we’re trying to change habits and experience a more fulfilling life, we need to be able to notice behaviours that are causing us to cut back on self-care. If we want more energy and freedom to have me-time, we must learn to say no.

But – saying no is really difficult for people pleasers. The desire to avoid conflict can cause us to put off tough conversations about healthy boundaries. However, the thing about boundaries is that the people who genuinely love us will respect them, and the people who don’t will be the ones who get frustrated. This helps us distinguish between our healthy and unhealthy relationships. We want less engagement with people who exploit us and more engagement with those who encourage and respect our personal space.

For some, being a people pleaser is a coping mechanism learned in childhood, and their self-worth is now heavily tied up in helping people and receiving praise for being so helpful. Being helpful is not bad at all, just as it’s not wrong to want to follow the rules, keep a sense of control, acknowledge individuality or look for the positives in a situation. But, when we become fixated on one motivation, we can become frustrated and feel stuck in life.

In extreme cases, people pleasers will be so fixated on helping others that they won’t feel comfortable accepting help from others. This is why it can be so exhausting, and bad habits form, affecting everything from how we spend our time and energy to how we spend our money.

Ultimately, people pleasers have not figured out their boundaries, and this is okay because we can choose to start setting new boundaries today. If you feel like you need to set some limits or notice someone in your life who might need some encouragement to set their own boundaries, don’t wait another day to put them in place. The best day to make a healthy change in your life is today, not tomorrow.