top of page

Not Everyone is Going to Like You/5 Ways to Reduce People-Pleasing Anxiety

Take Away:

In a society that values achievement and success, many people may find themselves striving to set high standards for their lives. While setting goal’s for one’s self can be motivating, when you struggle with putting others before yourself, this can be a recipe for disaster. As a therapist who works with high achievers, people-pleasing is a behavior that comes up a lot for many of my clients. People-pleasing tendencies can significantly impact a person’s mental and emotional well-being. If you struggle with balancing what you need with what other people say, then this post is for you. Keep reading to learn about the effects of people-pleasing and how to stop being a pushover.

Table of Contents:
  1. You Can’t Please Everyone: Understanding People-Pleasing

  2. Can't Please Everyone: Common Signs of People-Pleasing

  3. How to Stop Being a Pushover: 5 Strategies for Managing People-Pleasing

You Can't Please Everyone: Understanding People-Pleasing

cup of coffee with a piece of paper that says you don't need everyone to like you
Not Everyone is Going to Like You

Medical News Today describes people-pleasing as the act of prioritizing the needs and desires of others over one’s own needs. People-pleasing can be a learned behavior that follows some adults from childhood and is often seen in individuals who struggle with self-esteem and perfectionism. The impact of people-pleasing can be vast and can be driven by a fear of criticism, disapproval, and or rejection. If you put a lot of importance on what other people say, the danger of being a people-pleaser can include:

  • Anxiety and Depression: When people feel like they are not living up to the expectations of others whether this is real or perceived, this can create anxiety and sadness around disappointing others.

  • Resentment: People-pleasers constantly put the needs and wants of others before their own which can eventually turn into feelings of resentment and even anger especially when the efforts are not matched by others.

  • Diminished Self-Worth: People-pleasers rely on external validation to feel worthy and accepted. When their self-worth is dependent on pleasing others, they may place an enormous burden on themselves which keeps a negative cycle of looking for validation going.


Can't Please Everyone: Common Signs of People-Pleasing

When a person struggles with people-pleasing anxiety, it can feel overwhelming to trust your instincts and not be so caught up in what other people say. Here are some common signs that you may be people-pleasing:

Colored rectangles with the words please stand by
The Danger of Being a People Pleaser

  • Avoiding conflict: People-pleasers often go out of their way to avoid conflict and disagreements of any kind in most cases to their own detriment.

  • Needing constant approval: People-pleasers often rely on praise and feedback from others to feel good about themselves. When approval is not given a people-pleaser may feel anxious or unsure of themselves as a result.

  • Difficulty setting boundaries: People-pleasers can struggle to set healthy boundaries and may often end up saying yes when they want to scream no. This can result in them allowing others to take advantage of their time and resources.

  • Difficulty saying no: People-pleasers can experience feelings of guilt, disappointment, and anxiety around the thought of having to say no. The pressure connected to displeasing someone can automatically result in them saying yes when the answer should be no.


How to Stop Being a Pushover: 5 Strategies for Managing People-Pleasing

computer keyboard with a pink heart and the words stop being a people pleaser
How to Stop Being a Pushover

Pleasing others can be a hard habit to break but it is possible to learn how to set healthy boundaries and assert yourself. Here are five ways to stop putting others before yourself and reduce people pleasing:

  • Challenge negative thoughts: People-pleasers often hold irrational beliefs and negative thoughts about themselves such as “everyone must like me” or “disappointing those around me is bad.” Recognize these distorted thoughts and challenge them with more realistic and compassionate alternatives. It is important to challenge these thoughts by looking for all the evidence that disproves them.

  • Practice assertiveness: Assertiveness is the ability to express your needs, thoughts, and feelings in a respectful and firm manner. Learning assertiveness skills allows you to set clear boundaries and communicate your limits. Starting small by sharing your preferences in low anxiety producing situations is a great place to start.

  • Set realistic goals: People-pleasers often set high standards that can lead to stress and feelings of dissatisfaction with their lives. Learn to set realistic goals that challenge you without overwhelming you. Remember to celebrate your achievements along the way no matter how small they may seem.

  • Practice self-care: People-pleasers need to prioritize their own self-care by doing things they enjoy. This will also need to include being kind and compassionate to themselves and most importantly setting boundaries. Engage in activities that bring you joy, relaxation and help improve your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Taking care of yourself helps build resilience, boosts self-esteem, and decreases the need for external validation.

  • Seek support: Consider reaching out to a licensed therapist who specializes in working with high achievers and perfectionism (link to home page). Talking to a therapist can be helpful. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help people-pleasers identify and challenge negative patterns and develop healthier coping strategies and communication skills.

People-pleasing can be a challenging habit to break, especially for high achievers who have long associated their worth with meeting others' expectations. However, it is possible to regain control over your life. Remember managing people-pleasing is a journey and with self-compassion and patience, you can find balance, fulfillment, and a sense of success.

Woman smiling in blue dress with red spots
Anxiety Therapist in Houston
If you are a recovering people pleaser, please reach out!

If you are in Houston , New York, or California and you would like to explore treatment options for managing your people-pleasing anxiety please contact me and schedule a free consultation today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

26 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page