How to stop being a people-pleaser

Do you want to learn how to stop being a people pleaser, but aren’t sure where to start? Do you find yourself, despite all your professional success and beautiful home you’ve created for yourself, afraid to step on anybody’s toes? 

Are you the kind of woman who, despite wanting to take Saturday afternoon for yourself to run errands and get ready for the week ahead, and maybe even grab a latte from your favorite cafe and check out the art fair, regretfully saying “yes” when your grown daughter asks you to watch your grandson at the last minute? 

Sure, you were excited about that delicious latte and enjoying the fall weather, but now those plans are cancelled because you didn’t want to disappoint your daughter. 

Or how about when you’re day one of your vacation, a margarita in your hand as you sun yourself by the hotel pool, and a text comes in from your co-worker that says, “I know you’re on vacation, but can I call you really quick?” 

Next thing you know, your day of relaxation is hijacked. Only for you to be stressed about some BS work thing you can’t even control. And then you kick yourself for not just ignoring the text message, but then you’re also afraid to let your co-workers down. 

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Many divorced women–despite their professional success and their being an awesome friend, sister, mom, aunt, you name it—struggle with people-pleasing.

You *know* you do it, you tell yourself to knock it off, you continue to do it, and then you punish yourself for continuing to do it without knowing the exact steps to step back from it. 

It’s a vicious freakin’ cycle, this people-pleasing pattern. 

But we’re breaking it today with these 3 steps. 

Step 1 for How to Stop Being a People Pleaser: Understand the source of your people-pleasing. 

None of us were born being people-pleasers. 

But as we started to grow up, we most likely learned that keeping our room clean, not getting into fights with our siblings, making sure we didn’t tear or stain our clothes, and getting straight A’s would get positive attention from our parents. So even at a young age, we started to associate making other people happy with praise. And a lot of that making your parents happy was probably a survival mechanism, especially if you grew up in a volatile home. 

That people-pleasing behavior snowballed as we got older, too. The good grades. The attempts to come off as “the good girl” and not get into trouble (while the “bad girls” alway seemed to be having more fun). The perfect grades at school and college that turned into a good job which you excel at, and are justifiably proud of. 

But excelling at all those things instilled in us the belief that we could only feel worthy if we had the validation from others—including spouses. As part of your marriage, you probably attached a lot of your self-esteem onto how healthy your marriage was, and what your husband thought of you. 

It’s no wonder why you feel like shit after divorce. 

It’s no surprise that even after the divorce, you were a people-pleaser, turning your attention to not wanting to let anybody at work down or your family down or your family group down.

Because doing so made you feel some level of worth and value, since the external value of your marriage that you on suddenly disappeared.

But what is the real cost of people-pleasing after divorce? To your own mental health? And post-divorce recovery?

I’ve been coaching divorced women like you for years. And despite your outward success, there’s still this need to not let people down, to bend over backwards for people, even if it doesn’t serve you. 

But it’s not your fault. Women are conditioned at an early age to not rock the boat, to be the perfect daughter, the perfect sister and friend and wife and co-worker and mother and aunt, so much that we aren’t even aware of the fact that we can say no and not feel guilty.

Your need to people-please was a survival mechanism that helped you navigate your life until this point. But it’s no longer serving you. It’s time to let go. 

Step 2 for how to stop being a people pleaser: Recognize the danger people-pleasing

Like most women, you may be kicking yourself, using negative self-talk such as “Agggggh why do I do this?” 

You get mad. 

You know you need to stop. 

But then you take no serious action to change the behavior. 

So what happens is you acknowledge that people-pleasing helped you up until this point, but you then stay stuck, unable to move on after your divorce. 

That’s a dangerous position to put yourself in. Because the more you sacrifice your own happiness, your own convenience, and let your boundaries get intruded on, the more you tell yourself the following: 

That you don’t matter.

That your time is not valuable.

That your needs aren’t a priority.

That you don’t deserve to be happy.

You would *never* tell somebody you cared about those terrible things. But every time you people-please, that is exactly what you’re telling yourself. 

It’s no wonder that you are stuck right now. 

Not a surprise that you still feel frustrated.

And it’s because you’ve let people run all over you without taking into consideration that you need. 

And if you continue this path, the following will happen. 

You won’t build the self-esteem and internal value you absolutely need and deserve.

You’ll continue to let people intrude on your boundaries and put their needs above your own. 

You’ll remain stuck, missing out on the incredible post-divorce life of your dreams that you deserve. 

I don’t want that for you. You deserve better. 

Step 3 for how to stop being a people pleaser: Start putting yourself first. 

It’s time for you to: 

Say “no” to things that no longer give you joy, even if…

  • You’ve said yes before (such as staying late at work or watching your grandchild when you really didn’t want to) 
  • You’re afraid people will be “mad” at you if you do
  • You’re afraid of judgement
  • The messages in your head are saying how selfish you are
  • You feel guilty for doing so. 

Remember—it no longer matters if somebody doesn’t like you saying no. That person would never bend over backwards for you, so quit doing it for everybody else. And every time you say now, remember that you are deriving a whisper of internal value and worth, because you put yourself first. Those whispers will one day become the roar that you use to resonate your own self-love, boundaries, and worth—things that nobody can take away from  you because you build them internally and didn’t rely on others to give to you.

Say “yes” to things that…

Fill your cup and make you feel energized

Let you see your internal value and worth, instead of causing you to question it

Make you feel confident, beautiful, and powerful

I get that it can be easier said than done, especially if you grew up with the mindset that you should be happy just with what you have. But that messaging was created to make you doubt yourself, and pull you into the people-pleasing mindset that takes and takes but never gives back. 

It’s time for you to kick that old messaging to the curb. 

Now is the time for you to let go of people-pleasing. It no longer serves you and is keeping you stuck. 

The time to put yourself first after divorce is now. 

It’s time to learn how to stop being a people pleaser.

Here is your golden opportunity to cast aside those old mindsets. 

You are a new woman with boundaries and strength. 

It’s your turn. 

Do you struggle with people-pleasing after divorce? 

What one small step will you take today to let go of people-pleasing?