top of page

The Issue With People Pleasing

As a psychotherapist, I see so many individuals who struggle with the pervasive tendency to prioritise the needs and desires of others at the expense of their own well-being and I've been there myself! This people-pleasing, often stems from deep-rooted psychological and interpersonal factors. In this blog, we will explore why people become people-pleasers and delve into the detrimental effects it has on self-care.

Understanding the Origins of People-Pleasing:

1. Childhood Conditioning:

Early experiences play a crucial role in shaping our behaviours and beliefs. Often as children we grow up in environments where our needs are consistently overlooked or devalued and we develop people-pleasing tendencies as a means of seeking love, acceptance, and validation. It isn't a conscious thing, it's our inner child replaying the need for unconditional love from our parents.

Conditioning in childhood can lead to people pleasing tendencies

The conditioning may have happened via abuse, psychological or physical but it may also have happened just from seeing a look of disappointing on our parent figures face. Or perhaps hearing comments such as 'why can't you be more like...?' or 'I'm not cross, just disappointed'. It builds a belief that our worth is contingent upon meeting the expectations and demands of others.

2. Fear of Rejection:

Fear of rejection can also be a powerful motivator for continuing people pleasing behaviour. We might worry that asserting our own needs or setting boundaries will result in disapproval, abandonment, or conflict. This fear drives us to prioritise the comfort and happiness of others, seeking to avoid any form of rejection or criticism. It might be that as children we were put in 'time out' when we asserted our needs or said no to something and that time out, to our child self, felt like rejection or abandonment at a time we had big emotions. So we make ourselves quiet when we disagree, we keep it to ourselves and go along with what others say.

3. Low Self-Esteem and Approval Seeking:

As people pleasers we might struggle with low self-esteem, seeking external validation as a means of bolstering our self-worth. We might derive a sense of value and identity from the approval and praise they receive, leading them to constantly strive to please others in hopes of gaining acceptance and affirmation. This is only natural if this is how and when you received approval and love as a child. It's a learnt behaviour through socialisation and conditioning.

The Impact on Self-Care:

People pleasing can have a huge impact on self care.

1. Neglecting Personal Needs:

As a result of all this we tend to neglect our own needs and desires in favour of fulfilling the expectations and demands of others. We prioritise the well-being of others at the expense of our own physical, emotional, and mental health. Over time, this chronic self-neglect can lead to exhaustion, burnout, and a diminished sense of self.

2. Emotional Exhaustion:

Constantly striving to meet the needs and expectations of others takes a toll on our emotional well-being. We might find ourselves emotionally drained and overwhelmed as we suppress our own emotions and prioritise the feelings of others. It appear that this overwhelm is seemingly for no reason, as often we don't realise we're doing it. This emotional exhaustion can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and a diminished capacity to engage in self-care.

3. Resentment and Disconnection:

The unbalanced focus on pleasing others can breed feelings of resentment and dissatisfaction. If people-pleasing we may start to feel disconnected from our own desires and passions, leading to a sense of emptiness or a loss of identity. The inability to prioritise self-care can strain relationships, as we may become unable to express our authentic selves or establish healthy boundaries.

You can break free!

break free from people pleasing

You can break free from people pleasing by;

1. Cultivating Self-Awareness:

Developing self-awareness is a crucial step in overcoming people-pleasing tendencies. By recognising the patterns and triggers that lead to sacrificing personal needs, we can begin to understand our motivations and make conscious choices to prioritise self-care.

2. Building Self-Esteem:

Working on improving self-esteem and self-worth is vital for breaking free from people-pleasing. By developing a stronger sense of self and recognising our intrinsic value, we can reduce their reliance on external validation and start prioritising our own needs and well-being.

3. Practicing Assertiveness:

Learning to assertively communicate one's needs, desires, and boundaries is essential for breaking the cycle of people-pleasing. We can practice expressing ourselves authentically while respecting the rights and boundaries of others. Assertiveness empowers us to prioritise our self-care without guilt or fear of rejection.

4. Embracing Self-Care:

Engaging in regular self-care practices is crucial for seeking to overcome people-pleasing tendencies. By consciously dedicating time and energy to nurture our own physical, emotional, and mental well-being, we can establish healthier habits and reinforce the importance of self-care in our lives.

It's not easy. remember that people pleasing tendencies are learnt over a long period of time and are ingrained in us from a young age.

If you feel overwhelmed in motherhood, lost, tired or numb and you want this to change, get in touch. It doesn't have to be like this. Working with a counsellor can give you space and time to explore what is going on, make changes and lead to a more fulfilled life where you have the energy and time to be yourself as well as the mum you want to be.


Claire Judd is a counsellor in Harrogate and online. Specialising in overwhelmed mums who feel lost.

Claire Judd offers counselling in Harrogate and online for overwhelmed mums who want to break free.

Get in touch at or for a free 15 minute call to find out how we can work together.

12 views0 comments


bottom of page