mental health
BY: Aleks Zavlunova

How to Stop Being a People Pleaser According to a Behaviorist

Here’s how to stop engaging in people-pleasing behavior

If you are someone who is often putting the care and needs of others ahead of your own, giving away too much of yourself for the sake of the comfort of others, and overextending your services to the point of burnout, you might be a people-pleaser.

While not an official diagnosis, this is a behavioral trait seen among many individuals. The good news is that you can break this habit.

But first, let’s examine some contributing factors and hard-hitting truths that keep people pleasing in our repertoire

Here is a list of the most common thoughts and behaviors that perpetuate people-pleasing behaviors and prevent you from acting assertively, setting boundaries, and being your authentic self:

1. You attach your worth and value to validation from others

You do things for others in hopes of recognition, praise, and acknowledgment from others. You might go out of your way to do something that may not have been asked of you in hopes of being given recognition. As a result, your sense of worth and confidence rises and falls based on how others respond to such actions.

2. You don’t practice setting and honoring boundaries

Whether it is to avoid conflict, out of fear of disappointing others, or out of fear of rejection and not being liked, you often go along with what others say or ask you to do.

3. You keep saying “yes” when you really want to say “no”

For many, this is a difficult concept to apply. Often feelings of guilt and shame start to creep in. Every time you say yes to something, knowing that you are spreading yourself thinner, you engage in self-abandonment.

4. You’re seeking reciprocity

You do things for others, hoping they will do the same for you. By overextending yourself, you want others to notice how much you are doing for them, hoping they will reciprocate when you need the same. Even if you’re doing it because you’re genuinely friendly and helpful, a part of you wishes they would do the same for you.

5. You want to be liked and accepted

You try to fit in and be part of the crowd, often out of fear that you will otherwise be alone. You often adjust your personality, behavior, likes, and dislikes to be most similar to or in line with the person you’re with to seem agreeable or to fit in.

A deeply rooted, unloving relationship with the self is at the core of these behaviors. Somewhere along the way, you either have become disconnected from your true self or grew up in an environment where you were not allowed to be your true self. As a result, you have developed a habit of becoming whatever others need or want you to be. Your true self is confident with being and expressing who you are, what your values and beliefs are at the core, and whose words and actions align with those values.

So, how do you start reconciling your relationship with yourself and start building a loving one instead?

Here are five strategies to begin undoing harmful people-pleasing behaviors that’ll help you learn how to live more authentically and speak up for your wants and needs:

1. Remember that you are worthy because you are

Your worth and value as a human being is not tied to the things you do, your accomplishments, or what you bring to the table.

2. Honor your boundaries

Examine what areas of your life you lack boundaries or can strengthen them. Then make sure you follow through in honoring those boundaries, even if/when others will try to overstep and disrespect your boundaries.

3. Stop saying “yes,” when you want to say “no!”

Learn your physical, mental, and energetic limits and capacity. Saying no when you’re at capacity is a way you honor your wellbeing.

4. Up your self-care game!

Do the things you want others to do for you. Take yourself out on a date, create and honor a self-care routine, buy yourself flowers, and so on. It is your job to take care of yourself. When others do it, it’s just a bonus. And when you need it, ask!

5. Accept that you are not meant to be liked by everyone

You can be the most likable person, and still, there will be people who dislike you. That’s OK! Accepting that you are not for everyone and everyone is not for you is an aspect of self-acceptance and self-love.

People-pleasing is a symptom of low self-esteem. Often behaviors associated with people-pleasing reflect your lack of self-love and inability to view your own needs and desires as worthy or valuable. Know that this is part of your conditioning, engrained and rooted deeply in your conditioned belief system. It is not too late to break free from that conditioning and start living a life in which you uphold healthy boundaries, clear communication, self-love, and the confidence to be your most authentic self.

Aleks Zavlunova is a Holistic Behavioral Health and Wellness Coach. Aleks strongly believes that our relationship with food greatly correlates with our relationship with the self, our emotional, physical, and mental well-being, as well as our relationships with others. She combines principles of cognitive behavioral psychology and nutrition psychology along with other philosophies of mental, physical, and spiritual health to help her clients begin healing self-destructive patterns and habits and build self-esteem, confidence, and self-love by systematically improving their relationship with food and body.

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