People pleasing is something I am guilty of, and I am sure many others are as well. It’s a hard habit to break and tricky to know when to set boundaries. Here are some warning signs to look for that can signal to you that it is okay to say no.


1. Physical Feelings

  • Do you feel nervous to see someone? Do you constantly worry about what you are saying and doing with them?
  • If you feel like you’re walking on eggshells or doubting yourself to an unhealthy point, this is a sign that this person might not be your type of person
  • Friends and loved ones should relax you and make you feel comfortable
  • Always listen to your gut and your body when your mind is confused--if you feel physically unwell around a person, there must be a reason

2. First, Second, Third, Fourth Chances…

  • If there has been something that someone did that bothered you and you bring it up, there must be a show of effort to correct it
  • If you constantly feel undervalued and unacknowledged, something needs to be changed
  • If you address these concerns and no change is ever made, this can become a problem.
  • The best indicator of this is when you feel that giving another chance to someone will ultimately be futile. It is important to know when to set that boundary and stop the people pleasing habit. 

3. Priorities

  • If you are unsure if you cannot carry out a favor, make sure you look at everything going on in your life and see if anything can be moved. If it is not possible to reorder things, don’t hesitate to explain this! People pleasing can make it so that you feel hesitant to explain things, but if you go about it in a kind way, that will go a long way. 
  • Also make sure to look at your own health to make sure you are even able to do something, if it will impact your health negatively, it is okay to say no as long as you so politely.
  • Address the concern if there are multiple people reaching out. If you have to balance responsibilities between people, assess every aspect of the situation rationally. Reach out to both people and express your concerns! 

4. (Do something more possible)

  • If there is absolutely no way you can carry out a favor, find other ways to support someone!
  • Any little bit can help, give what you can even while saying no. 
  • It is alright to refuse a task, but even something as simple as moral support can go a long way. People pleasers tend to go above and beyond, but sometimes it is not always feasible and that is okay. 
  • I know if I am unable to do something for my friends, I will always follow up and provide as much support as physically able.

5. Helpful Frameworks to Combat People Pleasing

  • “Hey, I am very sorry, but I will not be able to help you with -task-because I have -other responsibility-. If there is any other way I can support you, let me know! Wish you the best.”
  • “I care about you deeply, which is why I want open communication between us about any and all concerns. -List Concerns-”

People pleasing can be dangerous, especially when it affects your health. The important thing is to remember that your real loved ones will be understanding and the knowledge that you are doing everything for them while also taking care of yourself!


Riya Mital

Riya Mital is an avid writer based in Santa Barbara, CA, loves books, working out, and being creative in any way, shape or form. 

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