People Pleasing: How my first word became the last word I’ll say

By Lauren Anthony


Helping friends out with tasks ranging from moving, relationship advice, and even sending notes or texts when one’s sick is a great act of kindness. Yet helping a friend out one-time may turn into many times. Saying yes to others is all fine and well, but what happens when it is all we can say? I am guilty of saying yes and being a people pleaser. I am afraid of saying no and having the person be upset; so saying yes seems like the best response. Just last week I fell into the trap of people pleasing and saying yes.

Last Wednesday evening I helped a friend handle a family situation, it ended up making me feel great to help, but also hard to take care of myself as well. I felt as though to make everyone around me stay happy, I had to repress my feelings and try to push away it all and be happy. It was not easy; the very act of trying to be okay brought me to tears. I felt everything that I was doing, getting good grades, always being around even when I am not able and so on, I was doing for others. Being a people pleaser is emotionally, mentally, and physically a challenge and I did not realize this until all the stress of people pleasing and saying yes hit me in one go.

You may wonder whether it is as easy to say no as it is to say yes for people pleasers and that is far from true. I am overwhelmed by guilt when I say no, especially if I normally would say yes. gives “21 Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser” including evaluating what is being asked before making the default decision of saying yes to someone’s request. Yet, sometimes I feel it is better to just say no and move away from the request quickly. Saying no is not easy, coming from me, my first word was no and now it is the one word I have no idea how to get out at times.

No one wants to say no to someone and end up having it come off as harsh or aggravating. Yet, it is important for us to say no to requests from others in any situation where we are not comfortable. “Why You Need to Say No! More Often” is a fantastic article that breaks down how saying no helps the body, mind, and soul. Learning how to say no is going to help, but what if you are the type to feel really guilty about saying no to someone or something?

10 Guilt-Free Strategies for Saying No” gives multiple scenarios on how to say no. I personally love the tips on saying no in regards to lending money and a proactive way to say no to whomever is asking. This is important because sometimes we may need to say no to our boss who called and asked if you can come into work or our significant other asking if we can come hang out when we are already busy. Whatever our reasons may be for needing to say no, by having the perfect tools and knowing the benefits, we can turn our “no’s” from a guilt trip into a relaxing and empowering action.

Step away and see how you are feeling and take a moment to engage in mindfulness. Sometimes as people pleasers and by saying yes all the time, we barley have time to stop and slow down for ourselves and check in on how we are doing, how we are feeling, etc. Taking time to be mindful and aware is going to help.

I want to say that it is totally okay to say yes to helping out people and to volunteering your time at other events. I do it a lot. Yet, we need to prioritize self-care and be mindful of what is going on and what emotions we are feeling. Our feelings are as valid as everyone else’s and we do not have to bend over for everyone to make them happy. Take care of yourself and when you need to step back and self-care, do it. We all need a break now and then, it is not shameful or something we should ever feel guilty about.

It is 100% okay to say yes, but it is also 100% okay to say no.


Further Reading

mindfulness-731846_960_720 is a great site to check out that can help you in beginning to find yourself and to see what it means to be mindful, but all the benefits. Not only being able to take care of yourself in physically slowing down, but you will also be helping your mental and emotional states of mind.

One other page that shares some great information about mindfulness is “Benefits to Mindfulness“. I really challenge anyone reading this article to check out all these sites when you have time and look into what would be best for you. No one is the same, so maybe one site will be better for you and others not as much.

University of Buffalo has shared “Our Self-Care Starter Kit.” The site has ways to set up your own kit of self-care and activities to help as well. This is great for anyone who wants to make something more personal and tailored to what they are dealing with when it comes to being a people pleaser and saying yes. Whether it is simply saying no, using mindfulness, using this starter kit, or your own method, whatever helps.



One thought on “People Pleasing: How my first word became the last word I’ll say

  1. Thanks for the article! I’ve always struggled with people pleasing–thinking I needed to take care of everyone. It’s only been the last year or so that I’ve started making myself a priority. This gives me a lot of tips I can use as I work on being mindful and engaging in self-care. 🙂


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