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How to Break Free from Being a People Pleaser: Live Life on Your Own Terms

Are you tired of constantly saying "yes" to others at the expense of your own needs and happiness? Do you find yourself going out of your way to please others, even if it means sacrificing your time and well-being? If so, you may be a people pleaser.

Don't worry; you are not alone. Being a people pleaser is a common pattern of behaviour that can be difficult to break free from. However, learning how to assert ourselves and set healthy boundaries is essential to lead a more authentic and fulfilling life. This article will explore practical tips and strategies to help you break free from people pleasing behaviour and prioritise your needs and happiness. Let's get started!

Learning how to assert ourselves and set healthy boundaries is essential to lead a more authentic and fulfilling life.

Key Takeaways

  • People pleasing behaviour is harmful and can negatively impact our well-being and relationships.

  • Setting boundaries is a crucial step in breaking free from people pleasing behaviour.

  • Self-care is essential for people pleasers to maintain their emotional well-being.

  • Assertiveness training can help people pleasers learn how to express their needs and desires more effectively.

  • Seeking professional help is valuable for those struggling to overcome people pleasing behaviour.

People Pleaser Meaning

So what is the meaning of being a people pleaser? The concept of being a people pleaser, defining it as a personality trait where individuals prioritise pleasing others over their own needs, often at their own expense. People pleasers tend to seek validation and approval from others while neglecting their own needs and boundaries. It can also impact on close relationships.

The potential consequences of being a people pleaser, include increased stress, anxiety, and difficulty in forming authentic relationships.

Individuals can overcome this behavioral pattern and cultivate healthier boundaries to prioritise their well-being

Understanding People Pleasing Behaviour

Being a people pleaser may seem harmless, but it can harm your well-being. To overcome this behaviour, it's crucial to recognise the signs and understand why you do it. Below are common traits and habits of people pleasers:

  • Always saying “yes” – even when you don't want to do something, you say yes to avoid disappointing others.

  • Avoiding conflict – you'll do anything to keep the peace, including sacrificing your needs.

  • Fear of rejection – you worry they'll reject or abandon you if you don't please others.

  • Putting others first – you prioritise others' needs over your own at the expense of your well-being.

  • Constant apologies – you apologise excessively, even when you haven't done anything wrong.

  • Difficulty saying “no” – you find it almost impossible to refuse requests, even when overwhelmed.

Recognising these traits in yourself is the first step towards overcoming your people pleasing habits. The next section will explore the negative impacts of being a people pleaser.

The Consequences of Being a People Pleaser

As people pleasers, we often prioritise the needs of others above our own, which can harm our emotional and physical well-being. Neglecting our own needs to satisfy others can result in feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.

Furthermore, excessively pleasing people can lead to strained relationships, as we may struggle to communicate our true feelings and desires. Our friends and family may come to expect constant compliance and lack of independence, and the resulting resentment can lead to a breakdown of trust and intimacy.

On a professional level, being a people pleaser can result in a lack of assertiveness, leading to missed opportunities and career stagnation. Those who consistently prioritise the needs of others over their own may fail to assert themselves in the workplace, resulting in missed chances for promotion or recognition.

By prioritising the needs of others, we are often neglecting our own, leading to a life that feels unfulfilled and unsatisfying. By breaking free from people pleasing behaviour, we can regain control of our lives and pursue our goals and desires, leading to a happier and more authentic life.

Setting Boundaries as a People Pleaser

As a people pleaser, you may find it challenging to set boundaries with others, often putting their needs before yours. However, establishing boundaries is essential for maintaining healthy relationships and promoting well-being.

Here are some practical tips and techniques for setting boundaries as a people pleaser:

  1. Define your limits: Take time to identify and communicate them clearly to others. This may involve saying no, setting time boundaries, or declining certain requests or obligations.

  2. Be assertive: Practice being assertive in your communication, expressing your needs and desires in a clear and respectful manner. This will help you avoid overcommitting and feeling resentful towards others.

  3. Stay true to yourself: Don't compromise your values or desires to please others. Prioritising your needs and happiness is essential to live an authentic and fulfilling life.

Remember, setting boundaries as a people pleaser may initially feel uncomfortable or challenging, but it is an important step towards living a healthier and more authentic life.

Tips to Overcome People Pleasing

Are you tired of putting other people's needs before your own and feeling like you can never say no? It's time to break the cycle of people pleasing and start living life on your own terms.

Here are some practical tips and strategies to help you overcome people pleasing behaviour:

1. Identify Your Priorities

Take a moment to identify what is truly important to you. What are your values and goals? Once you clearly understand your priorities, it will be easier to say no to requests that do not align with them.

2. Practice Saying No

Saying no can be difficult, but it is necessary for establishing healthy boundaries. Start small by saying no to minor requests and gradually work to bigger ones. Remember that saying no is not a personal rejection - it is simply a way to prioritise your needs.

3. Challenge Negative Thoughts

People pleasers often struggle with negative self-talk and feel guilty when they assert themselves. Challenge these negative thoughts by reminding yourself that it is okay to prioritise your well-being and happiness.

4. Set Realistic Expectations

It is important to recognise that you cannot always please everyone. Set realistic expectations for yourself and others, and let go of the need to seek approval constantly.

5. Seek Support

Breaking the patterns of people pleasing can be challenging, so it's important to seek support from friends, family, or a therapist, like iflow Psychology, to help you stay on track with your goals. Surround yourself with people who uplift and encourage you to be your authentic self.

Remember, overcoming people pleasing behaviour is a process that requires patience, practice, and self-compassion. By implementing these tips and strategies, you can regain control of your life and prioritise your needs and happiness.

Practising Self-Care for People Pleasers

As people pleasers, we often prioritise others' needs above our own. However, neglecting self-care can lead to burnout, stress, and physical health issues. That's why it's essential to incorporate self-care techniques into our daily routine that promote emotional well-being.

Here are some self-care practices specifically tailored for people pleasers:

1. Set aside "me time"

It's crucial to carve out time to engage in activities we enjoy. Try scheduling 15-30 minutes each day for "me time," such as reading a book, walking, or doing yoga.

2. Learn to say "no"

Being assertive and setting boundaries is an essential part of self-care for people pleasers. Saying no can be liberating and empowering, allowing us to focus on our needs and priorities.

3. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness can be an effective tool for managing stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions. Try meditating, deep breathing exercises, or taking a few minutes each day to observe your thoughts and feelings.

4. Connect with supportive people

Surrounding ourselves with positive, supportive people can help boost our mood and overall well-being. Seek friends and loved ones who respect your boundaries and encourage you to prioritise self-care.

5. Treat yourself with kindness

Remember to be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion. Avoid harsh self-criticism and negative self-talk, and instead, focus on your strengths, accomplishments, and positive qualities.

Example Self-Care Plan



Reading for pleasure

30 minutes per day


20 mins a day

Chatting with a friend

Once a week

Getting a massage

Once a month

"Self-care is never a selfish act - it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others." - Parker Palmer

By prioritising self-care as people pleasers, we can maintain our emotional well-being, improve our relationships, and ultimately live a more authentic and fulfilling life.

Assertiveness Training for People Pleasers

Sometimes, people pleasers may struggle to acknowledge and express their needs and desires, leading to resentment, frustration, and even burnout. Developing assertiveness can help people pleasers communicate effectively while respecting their own boundaries.

Assertiveness does not mean being aggressive or rude but communicating openly, confidently and respectfully. Through assertiveness training, people pleasers can learn how to express their needs and desires in a clear and assertive manner while promoting positive, mutually beneficial outcomes.

Effective Assertiveness Training Techniques for People Pleasers

There are many effective techniques and exercises that people pleasers can utilise to develop assertiveness:

  • Self-reflection: Reflect on your values, needs, and goals to better understand what is important to you.

  • ‘I’ statements: Incorporating “I” statements when communicating can help convey your feelings or concerns without placing blame or attacking the other person.

  • Role-playing: Practicing assertive conversations with a friend, family member, or therapist in a safe space can help you prepare for real-life situations.

  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices, such as breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga, can help you stay calm and centred when communicating assertively.

Comparing Passive, Aggressive, and Assertive Communication Styles

Communication Style




Avoid expressing needs or opinions, allowing others to overrule their decisions. They often act apologetic and give in to the demands of others.

“It’s okay, I don’t mind. Let’s do what you want.”


Push their own needs and opinions at the expense of others. They often use threats, criticism, and disrespectful language.

“You better do what I say, or I'll ruin your reputation.”


Communicate clearly and respectfully to express their own needs and desires while respecting those of others. They promote mutual respect and understanding.

“I appreciate your suggestion, but I think it would be better if we did it this way instead.”

Assertiveness training can help people pleasers communicate confidently, respectfully, and authentically. However, developing assertiveness is a process that requires patience, practice, and self-compassion. Seek support from a trusted friend, family member, or therapist, such as iflow Psychology in Sydney, Australia, to help guide you through the journey.

When should I consider seeking professional help as a people pleaser?

If you find yourself consistently struggling to break free from people pleasing behaviour or if it significantly impacts your well-being and relationships, it may be beneficial to seek professional help. Like those at iflow Psychology in Sydney, Australia, a psychologist can provide guidance, support, and tailored strategies to help you overcome this pattern.

Seeking Professional Help

If you find breaking free from people pleasing behaviour daunting, seeking professional help may be beneficial. At iflow Psychology, located in Sydney, Australia, our experienced therapists understand the complexities of people pleasing behaviour and offer personalised guidance and support to empower you towards assertiveness and self-empowerment.

We provide a safe and confidential space to discuss your concerns and work collaboratively to develop practical strategies to overcome people pleasing tendencies. We use evidence-based approaches tailored to your needs to help you achieve positive and long-lasting change.

With the guidance of our experienced therapists, you can learn invaluable skills and insights to break free from being a people pleaser and live a more authentic, fulfilling life. Don't hesitate to reach out for help; we are here to support you on your journey towards greater happiness and self-empowerment.


We hope this article has provided valuable insights and strategies for breaking free from people pleasing behaviour. It's important to understand that overcoming this pattern is a journey; it takes time and effort to make lasting changes.

Remember, prioritising your own needs and happiness doesn't make you selfish. It's essential for your well-being and the health of your relationships. By setting healthy boundaries, practising self-care, and developing assertiveness, you can transform your life and create a more authentic and fulfilling existence.

If you find it challenging to overcome people pleasing behaviour on your own, seeking professional help from therapists, such as iflow Psychology in Sydney, Australia, can provide invaluable support and guidance. You don't have to go through this journey alone.

Together, we can break free from being a people pleaser and embrace a more fulfilling life. Take the first step today towards a happier and healthier tomorrow.


What are some signs of being a people pleaser?

Some signs of being a people pleaser include constantly seeking approval from others, difficulty saying 'no', prioritising others' needs over your own, and feeling a sense of guilt or anxiety when you can't make everyone happy.

What are the consequences of being a people pleaser?

Being a people pleaser can lead to resentment, burnout, and a lack of authenticity in your relationships. It can also prevent you from fully expressing your needs and desires, ultimately impacting your emotional well-being.

How can I set boundaries as a people pleaser?

Setting boundaries as a people pleaser requires learning to prioritise and communicate your needs assertively. Start by identifying your boundaries, practising saying 'no' without feeling guilty, and expressing your needs and limitations clearly to others.

What are some tips to overcome people pleasing?

It's important to develop self-awareness, practice self-compassion, and prioritise self-care to overcome people pleasing. Set realistic expectations, practice saying 'no' and expressing your opinions, and surround yourself with supportive individuals who appreciate and respect your boundaries.

How can I practice self-care as a people pleaser?

Self-care as a people pleaser involves acknowledging your needs and making time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation. This can include engaging in hobbies, practising mindfulness or meditation, setting aside dedicated self-care time, and seeking support from loved ones or professionals when needed.

How can I develop assertiveness as a people pleaser?

Developing assertiveness as a people pleaser involves learning to express your needs, opinions, and desires in a respectful and confident manner. Practice assertive communication, use 'I' statements to express yourself, and remember that your needs are valid and important.

Find a Psychologist

Professional support is available if you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty or you want to optimise your life. Contact iflow Psychology today. Call 02 6061 1144 to schedule an appointment.

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iflow Psychology offers in-person, telehealth, and telephone counselling services.

As registered psychologists, we provide compassionate support tailored to your needs. Take the first step in your journey towards well-being.

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Location Details

Visit iflow Psychology in Leichhardt, Inner West Sydney, NSW, Australia, for in-person consultations. We also provide convenient telehealth services, ensuring accessibility no matter your location.


The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. Before making any decisions, we recommend consulting your treating doctor, health professionals, and legal representatives. This is particularly important if you have health concerns, existing mental health or medical conditions, or if you feel you are not coping.

(c) Dean Harrison 2024

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Mar 15
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great reminder how corrosive it can be to relationships if you say ‘yes’ when you don’t really want to - we need to respect and be true to ourselves before others can respect and know us. Thank you Dean!

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