How to stop being a people-pleaser (but stay loving)

Are you a people-pleaser?

Sometimes my clients have a long-standing pattern of people-pleasing. It can be as clear as overt fawning (one of the four Fs of survival) or as subtle as quietly trying to be “all things to all people all the time”. People-pleasers mould themselves according to the expectations of others. This habit is often learned in childhood as a way to stay ‘safe’ and feel okay about oneself via the approval and validation of the adult caregivers.

A key distinction that differentiates genuine care and empathy from people-pleasing proclivities is that care and empathy for others means you don’t hold yourself responsible for their feelings and needs. Holding yourself responsible for them only leads to guilt, which blocks true empathy.

In this short video, NBP Director Dr Rachel Hannam explains how to tell whether you are being genuinely compassionate or slipping into people-pleasing mode. Once you can see the difference between your genuine empathy and your people-pleasing drives (fuelled by anxiety, fear and shame), you have more choice about how to authentically interact with others and also set healthy boundaries.