All That People Pleasing is F*ing Up Your Mental Health

how to stop people pleasing
Photo by Philipe Cavalcante

If you people-please, you may be causing damage to your mental health without noticing it.

  • Do you say yes to situations when deep down you mean NO?

  • Do you catch yourself performing or acting out of character in order to fit in?

  • Have you ever promised a friend you would go out when you would rather stay home in bed watching re-runs?

  • Have you ever exaggerated an accomplishment to receive applause?

If you answered yes to any of these, my friend, you are a people-pleaser. Ouch! Don’t worry too much. This happens to the best and worst of us (myself included).

Where It All Starts

People-pleasing is embedded into us as kids. We’ve spent most, if not all, of our childhood pleasing our parents and guardians by seeking to make them happy and proud. A lot of us didn’t even have a choice in what we wanted to do as a career. Obedience was the requirement, even at the expense of your personal views and opinions. Those same tendencies of your inner child could be governing your life today. You’re still doing things out of obligation, loyalty, kindness, respect, or whatever the drive is.

As an adult, you now should make choices based on your spectrum of happiness instead of someone else’s desires for you and your life. Choosing to put yourself first after aiming to please everyone else for so long may feel a little heavy, but when your mental health is at stake you don't really have any other choice. Besides, as we say here at Grace & Grind, self-care is the most selfless thing you can do. If your goal truly is to be of service to others, you have to show up for yourself first.

Here are five ways people-pleasing is bad for your mental health and how to fix them.

1. People-pleasing knows no boundaries

When you constantly do things against your will for the sake of making others happy or comfortable, you are not respecting your self-boundaries.

Boundaries are limits or guidelines you put in place for yourself or others to prevent overstepping or crossing a line. They determine how much you are willing to take and or give within the relationship. Boundaries exist for your happiness and well-being. To honor them is to practice self-respect and self-care.

When you ignore your boundaries, you create a domino effect of distrust, chaos, and stress—and that can open a whole can of mental distress. Learning to say no when you need to and doing the things that feel good to you regardless of what people think is the ultimate way of honoring your own boundaries.

2. People-pleasing disconnects you from your true self

Having the power to live freely on your own terms is truly powerful. Being authentic to who you are is walking in your purpose and cultivating a meaningful life. When you people-please, you place what others expect of you on a higher pedestal than what you expect of yourself. Sometimes, this can cause what feels like a fake persona to exist in which you may feel as if you don't even know who you are anymore.

It's important to take your own needs into consideration and to onl