Confessions of a reforming people pleaser

Confessions of a reforming people pleaser


So we all know one (or we are one): someone who will bend over backwards, forwards and any which way to keep the peace, avoid conflict and in many cases be a bit of a doormat.

Hi my name is Emma and I am a People Pleaser.

It’s something I’ve admitted about myself only recently, but it has always been present. My dirty little secret. Something to hide. To convince others I am just this nice, accommodating, friendly woman by accident … not by design.

It has always been like this though. I was a pleasant child, well behaved and always kept the peace. An only child who sought approval from everyone and used any means possible to get it. To be clear, it wasn’t a deliberate manipulation, simply a search to fit in, to be a part of something and to ensure that everyone in my life was happy, and that I somehow contributed to that.

I wanted to be liked. 

The funny thing about wanting something so bad, is so often you don’t get it.

High school, while a blast, was also a time of incessant torture. Attempting to please everyone, generally meant that I pleased no-one, especially not myself. ‘Friendly banter’ (when, let’s be honest, really it was bullying, plain and simple) was a part of life for me. The people I aimed to please, used it against me like a weapon, like they could see that little chink in my armor and took pleasure in making their way deep into my skin, where they continued to live for a long time, some still to this day reside there.

The difference now is I let them. Back then it didn’t feel like a choice.

I married young, I was a teen bride, only just, still but a babe to a beautiful man who I am lucky to still call a friend, but not a husband. Early in our relationship I was still all about the people pleasing. I was certainly not submissive, but I still put my own opinions and thoughts to one side, following his lead. I thought I was being a dutiful wife. I spent many nights alone, while he was working late, accepting that it was just the way life was.

Until it wasn’t.

Until the voice inside quietly said “no more”.

Until I started to get a glimpse of my worth, something that had always alluded me.

And then it started.

Rebellion. Or so I thought.

The funny thing about people pleasing is that it comes in and out of your life, it can be person dependent or it can be the whole kit and caboodle and so often you don’t realise you are doing it until you are right in the thick of it again.

What I have most recently discovered is that the more I people please, the more inauthentic I become. Because that person truly isn’t me. I am a friendly, accommodating woman but not all the time. I am not always black and white, I am sometimes shades of bitchy grey and truth be told, I really love that. The complexity of being a woman, for so long was drowning in a sea of other peoples needs, that I never truly met anyway. (Funny that).

In people pleasing we not only deny ourselves, but we deny others from seeing our messy brilliance.

Before I go any further, a quick little disclaimer, people pleasing and helping others are two completely different things, one is done out of a genuine want to help, the other comes from a need for approval. Vastly different. You can still be kind, but not to the detriment of your health, sanity or self-worth. Remember that.

So beautiful, are you a people pleaser?

Do you find yourself afraid to rock the boat, avoid speaking your mind, find it almost impossible to say no, feel responsible for other peoples happiness, over analyse everything and my favourite; care whether someone likes you, before ascertaining whether you like them? (Really, how hilarious are we.)

Answered yes to some or all of these? You have a little people pleaser in you and baby, that’s OK. Knowledge is power. So what can we do about it?

Know your worth

Easier said than done right? Totally. But it is a battle worth sticking out.

You beautiful, are so worthy of an amazing life, you are lovable but you need to love yourself first. So start building that self worth, start owning the good things in your life and know that you aren’t just lucky to have them but that you are totally worthy of them!

Get really clear, write it out. What are the gifts you have to offer the world, big or small they are all important and in the word’s of the beautiful Melissa Ambrosini help you “dial up your worthy-o-meter”.

So start writing. When you feel yourself slipping a little, refer back and read your worthiness words, it’s like a muscle, it needs repetition and work to get it nice and strong.

Just say no

Even now, this one is hard for me. I hate saying no, especially to those I love.

One of my favourite things to remember is if it isn’t a F$*k yes, it should be a no. No-one wants half your heart and the most respectful thing for yourself and to others is to honor how you are feeling. If you are going to be stretching yourself beyond belief, say no upfront, don’t say yes, bitch and moan and then feel like crap for bitching and moaning.

People will generally understand and in a lot of cases will respect you more for speaking your truth (and if they don’t, well they aren’t your people). The key here is to be honest and respectful.

Ask for what you want

Oh this one is a corker! For so long, I just thought my mother, friend, lover should just know what I need and if they didn’t, well they didn’t know me very well, and that was just super disappointing.

Newsflash, it is no-one else’s responsibility to read your mind (that and it is physically impossible!) If you need support, ask for it. Funnily enough, your relationships thrive when you drop expectations and speak your truth. Mind blowing!

Set boundaries

Notice how you feel when you are around certain people, do you feel uplifted or drained? The more you take notice of the people around you and how they affect your energy, the quicker you can identify and set your boundaries.

Do you have a day, half hour, ten minutes that are just for you? How important is that to you? If your friend asked you to do something that meant you couldn’t have that ten minutes would you say yes?

List out your non-negotiables, it may be in relation to relationships, love or just life in general and do your best to realistically achieve them. Sometimes life happens and you won’t quite get there, but if you have established beautiful boundaries, you will find more often than not you will honor yourself by keeping them.

The dirty truth about people pleasing is that so often we are pushing so hard to meet our own need for approval, that we miss what the other person actually wants, that or we lose their respect anyway for being a doormat.

The most beautiful thing you can do for others is to be yourself, not what you THINK they need/want you to be. That’s how you find your tribe. That’s where the gold is.


For more enlightenment and self-care, don’t forget to check out our Truth or Dare Self-Discovery + Happiness Game!



Emma Newby

Emma Newby

Emma is a life coach, photographer and creative soul. Through her blog Some Wild Darling ( she shines a light on the importance of joy and creativity, the real moments in life and creating space to live them. When she isn’t writing or working with fabulous women to spark joy in their lives you will find her by the ocean or capturing the world through her camera lens, one frame at a time.
Emma Newby

Latest posts by Emma Newby (see all)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *