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How to Stop People-Pleasing

For many people there is the innate desire to make others happy, and on the heels of the holidays it is important that the need to be reliable does not turn into toxic people-pleasing. In addition to holiday stress; social and familial holiday obligations, relationship stress, career stress and the general stressors of life certainly do not subside. People-pleasers want others to be happy with them, but just because someone else is happy with “yes,” does not mean the person people-pleasing actually is. Managing time and energy is vital to feeling your best. Here is what you can do to stop people-pleasing this holiday season:

What is the actual reason for saying yes?

It is important to examine why you are conflicted over saying no. At the foundation there may be the strong desire to avoid conflict. Are you worried someone might consider you rude, or decide they do not like you? Identify the thought you are telling yourself, and notice if this is something you have made up in your own mind.

Remember healthy relationships require mutuality, there is nothing healthy about going along to get along. This is unfair behavior and communicating what it is you actually desire, can help to change people-pleasing dynamics. Do not overthink and over index what ifs; remember, “no” is a complete sentence.


Boundaries teach people how to treat you, and when we do not set healthy boundaries for ourselves we can end up feeling spread thin, unsure of Self and overwhelmed. Your boundaries keep you safe and protected. Take note, setting boundaries is not rude, and people will treat you the way you allow them to treat you.

It may be time to take stock of your relationships and note those that could use healthy boundaries. To organize your thoughts, you could make a list of the boundaries that need to be set, create a simple action plan and organize your thoughts into tangible items.

Your Time is Valuable

Time is a commodity. Set time limits for yourself before you start saying “yes” to every last thing you are invited to. Alot yourself a certain amount of time to give to others. When you are going somewhere or if you are setting up a phone call with someone who tends to take up a lot of your time, set your time limit out the gate.

When was the last time your worst case scenario actually happened? Exchanging your happiness for the happiness of someone else is an incredibly unfair trade. It is okay to let people know you are working on yourself and learning how to prioritize your own needs.

Be Unapologetic

When you start to break your people-pleasing habit, the tendency is to start over apologizing. Instead of apologizing, celebrate reclaiming your time and energy. Saying no can help you move closer to personal power you might have lost.

Being overly apologetic may point to your need for external validation. You cannot control other people’s actions, but you can be unapologetically you. It is acceptable and normal to not be loved by everyone. Unapologetically saying no will help you to become more confident than saying yes ever will.

Do What Makes You Feel Good

Doing what makes you feel good is empowering. When people-pleasing sneaks in, it can be disruptive to your peace and limit your enjoyment. When your self-esteem is shaken by other people it is time to reevaluate.

Before you experience holiday burnout, decide if your own peace is worth sacrificing. Base your decisions moving forward on mutual respect and honesty.

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