17 Clues You May Be a People-Pleaser

How can we know if we’re living our life as a people-pleaser? Because quite often, we don’t recognise this syndrome until it’s in our rearview mirror.

I know I didn’t.

And even when I changed my thoughts and behaviour, I didn’t resonate with the label of being a ‘people-pleaser’.

Because to be honest, the label doesn’t accurately describe the feelings.

It manifests itself in so many different ways. Maybe you just feel like you aren’t honoring your own core beliefs.

Or maybe you want to stop seeking external validation.

Most of the time, to me it felt more like self-protection than about trying to please other people.

Or, for example, I used to hand over the responsibility of responding to group decisions by saying ‘I don’t mind’, which is often a disguised way of people-pleasing and one of the ways we give away our personal power.

But that’s not to say you’re the same as me.

Maybe you’ve recognised situations where you behave in certain ways and you’ve identified the lifestyle of a people-pleaser.

If you have, congratulations. It means you’re part of the small minority of empowered people who are aware of their limiting beliefs and behaviours.

In this post, we’ll look at what it really means to resonate with being a people-pleaser, how we can tell whether we are and what we can do about it to create the life of our dreams.

Who is a People-Pleaser and Who is it Not?

You know, the reason I want to include this clarification is because I don’t want you to think that it’s terrible to be a people pleaser.

Wanting to please other people coming from a place of love and kindness is a beautiful thing. It’s only when we start to forget or ignore our own needs that people-pleasing becomes detrimental to our own well-being and spiritual growth.

But it isn’t what lots of people think it is . . .

Here are two definitions of the term people-pleaser:

often a person who has an emotional need to please others often at the expense of his or her own needs or desires


And . . .

someone who cares a lot about whether other people like them, and always wants others to approve of their actions

Cambridge dictionary

The definition sounds simple when in reality, the truth of being a people-pleaser can negatively impact and affect every aspect of our lives because it’s a symptom of how we look out upon the world.

And how we look at one thing is how we look at everything.

I know for me, transforming away from this type of life was probably the most empowering and liberating thing I’ve done in my whole adult life.

But it wasn’t just one thing. It was everything.

What a People-Pleaser Isn’t

So just to clarify, somebody who’s a people-pleaser isn’t necessarily two-faced.

You know, the kind of person who goes around saying different things to different people because they want to be popular?

That isn’t it.

(Though for sure these people also exist and may well be living their life as a people-pleaser too.)

Or someone who runs around with a false smile plastered on their face offering you cookies and cake, or only doing the same as everybody else because they think it looks good?


Well ok, that may be a facet of people pleasing too, but that isn’t what people-pleasing is.

And I never did either of those things.

In fact, I always considered myself to be honest to a fault, loyal and blunt.

Being a people-pleaser is more about trying not to disappoint people. And trying to maintain yourself in your ‘safe’ spot by not rocking the boat too much.

So in what way was I a people-pleaser? And how can you tell if you are living as one too?

And just as there are so many reasons that we end up as a people-pleaser, there are also so many ways it can manifest in our lives.

And ways you can spot whether you tend to be one or not.

17 Clues You May Be a People-Pleaser

In my opinion, the term people-pleasing is misleading. It refers to a myriad of behaviours which we adopt because of fundamental insecurities.

So in actual fact, nobody IS a people-pleaser. Because it isn’t a thing.

We are humans with insecurities which lead to putting others first at the cost of our own needs and that collection of behaviours has been given the title ‘people-pleaser’.

The interesting thing is, if you resonate with these behaviours it’s wonderful. Because with a bit of self-work, you can shift your inner beliefs and create space for transformation.

And boy is that liberating.

If there are so many different types of people-pleasing, how can we know if we’re subconsciously trying to fit in, instead of letting our authentic self shine?

Here are some of the signs we may be trying to please others over and above honouring our own needs.

How many do you resonate with?

  1. Allowing other people to make our decisions
  2. Finding it difficult to say no to others
  3. Not knowing what we want because we never practice choosing
  4. Suffering from extreme indecision
  5. Worrying about what people think of us
  6. Telling a slightly different version of a story to be tactful
  7. Saying what we think the other person wants to hear
  8. Lacking self-esteem and/or self-love
  9. Experiencing fear or anxiety around disappointing others
  10. Putting other people’s needs above our own
  11. Feeling guilty if we assert ourselves or prioritize our needs
  12. Needing praise or validation from other people
  13. Taking on more than we can handle
  14. Having a fear of rejection
  15. Not setting clear boundaries
  16. Avoiding conflict at all costs
  17. Suppressing and ignoring our emotions

I have to confess, I related to all of these signs. I was a people pleaser, big time.

Did I know it? Absolutely not.

Even more than that – I knew of the expression and thought I was the exact opposite.

I thought:

  • I don’t care what people think of me
  • I’m strong
  • I’m an island, I don’t need other people to support me
  • I do what I want

So how was there such a huge disconnect between the truth and what I perceived to be the truth?

I think this might be more common than we like to believe. When we’re low in self-esteem we don’t necessarily recognise it.

So the first step to any transformation is uncovering the layers and discovering what beliefs are driving our behaviour in the first place.

Do the People-Pleaser Check

Read each of the above points individually.

Stop between each one.

Read number one for example: ‘allowing other people to make decisions for us’.

Take the time to imagine the scenarios in your life.

How often and in what situations does this occur for you?

In my case, it used to be often, especially around small things. I made my own decisions around the big life choices but I let other people decide where we would go, when we would go, what we would eat etc. I just used to say, ‘I don’t mind, you choose.’

Pause on every example to see whether it resonates within you and decide how prevalent it is in your life.

How many of the points resonate with you? How strongly do they impact your life?

Being a people pleaser can often come from a lack of self-love or low self-esteem. We take a look at ways to stop wanting everybody to like you in another post.

And if you’re unsure, here are 30 signs that you don’t love yourself as much as you could.

Conclusion on Being a People Pleaser

The biggest step to change is recognising what is.

Once that’s out of the way, we can make huge leaps in the direction we want to go, just by uncovering and exposing our deepest limited beliefs which have been accepted by our minds without blinking until now.

Often, by unlocking one area in our lives we automatically unlock the others too, because everything is intrinsically connected.

So for example, just by learning to love and accept your body, you may find your self-confidence growing, your daily life improving and your overall happiness increasing.

I absolutely love helping people to unlock their dreams by shifting their beliefs and creating new thoughts, new actions and new lives.

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If you want to hop on a free call, contact me and we’ll set up a time to chat.


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