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What is people pleasing and how to start drawing boundaries

People-pleasing, or the inability to draw boundaries, seems like an easy way to be liked. However, in the long term, it makes you stressed and unhappy and damages your health and relationships. In this blog, we tell you how to spot and fix your inability to draw boundaries. 


What is a people pleaser? People pleasing is a compulsion to do what pleases others even at a personal expense. People who have a people-pleaser personality often forego their own needs and wants. They might have different personalities around different people. They might give off the impression of being very agreeable, but might not experience real happiness or a real sense of connection because they are afraid to show up as their true selves. 

Sound familiar? If you’re wondering, “Why am I a people pleaser,” or trying to figure out where people-pleasing comes from, and what causes people-pleasing, here’s what you need to know: People-pleasing might start in childhood, because of demanding parents or a volatile home environment. As a teen or adult, this might manifest as you doing more than you should, when your underlying sentiment is, “I just want to be liked.” 

 It can also be a trauma response, where the habit develops as perceived “means of survival”. It is linked to low self-esteem and is a pillar of a conflict-avoidant personality. A people-pleaser personality can also be a simple enculturation thing, where you’re trying to be a “good kid” or a “good mother” and therefore can’t say no to giving people what they want. 

Signs Of People-Pleasing: Are You A People-Pleaser? 

The top signs of being a people pleaser are: 

  • Have a hard time saying no: You might not be able to draw boundaries at work, and you might even struggle to say no to social commitments, or even unwanted sexual advances, in some cases. 

  • Afraid to “take up place”: You might go through extreme inconvenience to avoid causing others even the slightest discomfort. 

  • You’re a yes-man/ woman: Are you afraid to disagree and voice your honest opinion for fear that it might not be popular? That’s a sign of being a people pleaser. 

Is there a test that can tell you if you are a people-pleaser, or uncover people-pleasing psychology? Well, there is no specific people-pleaser test, but that’s not to say that you cannot find out: You can use genetic testing to identify all your personality traits and find out if you have people-pleasing traits, in addition to finding out all your personality traits. 

Dangers Of People-Pleasing 

Being a people-pleaser sounds like a good thing. After all, you’re keeping the peace, you’re the “nice guy/ girl” and everybody is pleased with you. But here’s who isn’t getting a chance to be pleased. You. 

Besides, in the long run, your people-pleasing behaviour can impact you negatively. It results in people-pleasing anxiety. You might feel stressed, tired, frustrated, and alienated (because you feel like everyone is taking advantage of you). 

In the long run, people-pleasing results in immense stress and burnout (in school, college and eventually at the workplace). Additionally, resentment builds because you feel like people are using you, and this can cripple your social relationships. 

You might also attract people who use other people – in this case, you, and people who only care about themselves, and therefore thrive on your bending backward to keep them happy. This is perhaps the biggest danger of being a people-pleaser. 

How To Stop Being A People-pleaser? 

Learn self-value 

Understand that your opinions, wants, and needs matter to people who actually care about you. You are actually doing your loved ones, peers, and superiors a disservice (in addition to doing yourself the greatest disservice) but not being upfront about what you think and desire. 

Understand your boundaries 

This is easier said than done for a people pleaser. It might help start small. Choose a movie when you’re going out with friends or family instead of saying, “I’m cool with anything.” Come out and say what you would like for dinner. Say “I don’t like this one” when helping your friend choose from several outfits or gadgets. 

Note your feelings 

The first time you say no, or draw a boundary, you might feel anxious. But there’s often an accompanying sense of relief and exhilaration. Note those feelings so that you do not associate being yourself only with anxiety. 

Also, note your feelings when you say yes to something you don’t actually want to do or agree to. You might feel small, unseen, and uncared for.  By doing this, you build a negative association with your people-pleasing behaviour, making it easier to spot and shake off. 

Choose your crew wisely

Friends who bite your head off for voicing your opinions, wants and needs aren’t exactly your friends. They enjoy the benefits of your people-pleasing but don’t really care about you. Alternatively, they just need time to get used to your new-found sense of self. 

Put your values in the driver’s seat

One way to get started with eliminating your people-pleasing tendencies is to be guided by your values. You won’t do X because you’re a law-abiding person. You won’t agree to Y because it would mean lying, and you don’t do that, and so on. 

Find out who you are

If you’ve been a people-pleaser for a long time, chances are that you don’t even know yourself. Invest in finding out who you truly are. DNA-based personality tests by Genleap can help you uncover personality traits, talents, and aptitudes so that you discover you are beneath all that people-pleasing and lack of boundaries. 

Stop People-pleasing Today! 

People pleasing is exhausting and becomes harder to shake off as you grow older. Today you’re going to a movie you don’t like because you’re a people-pleaser, but 10 years from now you could end up making less money than you should or having more work than is fair because you don’t know how to stand up for yourself. Break the habit of being a people-pleaser now. Your needs, wants and opinions count, and everyone deserves to know the real you. People who truly care for you will not want you to suppress your feelings. 

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