By now we all realize that being a people pleaser has its downside. Putting other people’s needs before your own can lead to exhaustion, frustration and an unfulfilling life. You can’t say yes to what’s most important to you without saying no to distractions. But, of course, staying too focused on yourself makes for a lonely life. So where do you draw the line? When do you stop trying to please everyone? How do you know whether the support you give to others comes at too high a price?

Of course, only you can answer those questions. But I thought you might like a few points to consider. The first place to look is how you make decisions. Do you base them on what feels right to you, or on the reactions you expect from others?

We all want people to respond to us with approval and acceptance. We run away from reactions like these:

  • hurt feelings,
  • rejection or disapproval,
  • guilt trips,
  • conflict, or even
  • simple disagreement

You can tell how intense your need to please other people is by looking at what you’re willing to do to avoid these reactions (and any others that make you feel uncomfortable). What will you go along with in order to avoid hurting someone’s feelings? Will you lie in order to avoid certain people’s disapproval? Do guilt trips work on you – even when you know that there’s no reason to feel guilty? How much are you willing to tolerate in order to avoid an argument? Do you edit your opinions in order to avoid disagreement?

If you suspect you’re putting too much energy into pleasing others and not enough into meeting your own needs, ask yourself these questions. Take a good, hard look at how you make your decisions. If you find you’re giving up too much in exchange for the approval of others, know that you’re not alone.

Stay tuned for two more signs and a post on how to deal with it all. And if you’re looking for some guidelines to help you with those important decisions, check out the second book in the Set Your Boundaries Your Way series: 7 Keys to Better Boundaries.


Part Two of this series: Making Excuses: The Second Sign of People Pleasing


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