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Lesson 6.3 - Tips for dealing with people pleasing


video lesson




Hey you, welcome back!

We ended the previous lesson talking about 3 common limiting beliefs that are at the root of people pleasing behavior. Because that topic is still fresh on your mind, let’s start this lesson off by talking about ways to challenge those beliefs.

Challenging your limiting beliefs around people pleasing

Okay, so a quick refresh. The 3 common limiting beliefs are:

1. There’s a double standard for me and the rest of the world.

2. Pleasing someone means I’m a nice person.

3. Bad stuff will happen when I dare to stand up for myself.

Let’s start with the first one.

1. There’s a double standard for me and the rest of the world.

A helpful strategy to assess if a double standard is lurking is to turn the tables.

When you’re considering expressing a want or need, but it feels unreasonable or selfish, put yourself in the opposite position and see if your hesitation still holds.

“How would I react if my friend asked if we could choose a different restaurant?”

“Would I ever ask someone to work a double shift on his birthday?”

Does it sound reasonable when you turn the tables? The first example sounds like a perfectly reasonable question, so go ahead and ask your friend if it’s alright to choose a different restaurant.

The answer to the question in the second example is no. I mean, for most of us it’s a big fat ‘no’, right? So, it’s very reasonable to tell your manager no, you won’t be working a double shift on your birthday.

If, in the previous lesson, you identified this limiting belief as the one that holds you back the most, I’d like for you to grab this lesson’s worksheet and start practicing what it’s like to turn the tables.

Let’s start off simple, with one specific type of situation.

If you can, identify three moments, recent ones or maybe ones from a while back that’s still impacting you today, where someone asked you a question and your people pleasing self gave in. Write down the question you were asked and then turn the tables. Look at the examples I gave earlier for a way to structure your counter-question.

2. Pleasing someone means I’m a nice person.

On to the next one. Here’s what no one tells you: you can give up your doormat status without giving up your common decency. You can be polite. Gracious. Respectful. You can come away from interactions with respect for others and respect for yourself fully intact.

“Thanks so much for thinking of me! How nice of you. Regretfully, I’m just not the woman to run the preschool auction this year.”

“Hey, how’s it going? Say, would you mind using headphones with that portable DVD player? Thanks man.”

“You’ve done really great work and contributed a lot to the staff this year. One area to work on is punctuality. I need you to be at your station, ready to go, when your shift starts.”

Be casual. Smile. You never have to stop being a nice person.

This may sound suspiciously like assertiveness, which - here’s a secret - IT IS. Assertiveness is the ability to stand up for yourself and express your ideas in a calm, honest, and respectful way.

Now, before you go and think that you just don’t have what it takes to be assertive (that’s a double standard, limiting belief number 1 by the way, because the rest of the world can be assertive but you can’t?), well… hear me out.

Assertiveness isn’t a personality trait. Instead, assertiveness is something you do. Assertiveness is learned, practiced, sometimes failed and tried again, like riding a bike. You’ve never heard someone say “Oh, I can’t ride a bike. It’s not in my personality to ride a bike.” So, it is with assertiveness.

Here’s what I want you to do. On the worksheet, I want you to start building a word bank or a selection of conversational scripts that you can use and return to again and again. Let’s start with the three examples I used earlier, because there are some phrases in there that can be helpful for you.

In the first example there are phrases that you can swipe to use in just about any situation.

“Thanks so much for thinking of me! How nice of you. Regretfully, I’m just not the woman to run the preschool auction this year.”

In the second example, you’re showing both kindness and gratitude and the phrase “Say, would you mind…” is such a respectful way to broach a subject.

“Hey, how’s it going? Say, would you mind using headphones with that portable DVD player? Thanks man.”

This third example shows how important it is to be kind and share a compliment.

“You’ve done really great work and contributed a lot to the staff this year. One area to work on is punctuality. I need you to be at your station, ready to go, when your shift starts.”

Other phrases that you can use are:

  • Thank you for including me, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to politely decline.

  • I appreciate you thinking of me, but I have other obligations that day.

  • I can’t do that, but I’ll tell you what I can do for you…

  • Thank you, but I’m going to have to pass up on this.

  • Let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you.

  • I just don’t have time right now. Let me recommend someone who may be able to help you.

  • Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and support! I’m sorry I’m not able to help.

Let all of these examples inspire you to come up with one or two sentences that work for you, that feel right for you, and that you can use in different situations. And, this is important, memorize these sentences, know them by heart, so that you’re always ready to use them. You could also store them in your phone for a little back up.

3. Bad stuff will happen when I dare to stand up for myself.

The way to go about limiting belief number 3 is to bring other people on board. Consider telling people you love and trust what you’re trying to do, so that they won’t be surprised when they see you standing up for yourself.

These examples give you an idea about what to say:

“I’m trying to speak up more.”

“I know I tend to make everyone guess what I’m thinking, so I’m experimenting with actually saying what I’m thinking.”

“I’m trying to be better about balancing my time.”

The second part, of course, is to follow through. With consistency, people will get used to it. Expect some pushback at first. After all, others got comfortable assuming you’d take care of everything. But people don’t push back for long. They adjust.

And oddly, they’ll respect you for it. They’ll feel more secure knowing where your boundaries are.

So, if this is the limiting belief that shows up most for you, use the worksheet to identify one situation where you find yourself in people pleasing mode over and over again and, then, think of someone you can bring on board to help you stay accountable.

Practice disappointing

This is one of those strategies that’s so helpful, although, I’m warning you, it may be a little weird.


Here’s what I want you to do: each day for a week I want you to make a conscious effort to disappoint someone.

It goes without saying, don’t be rude about it, don’t be douche. Again, politeness, kindness, and gratitude is the way forward here.

But yeah... you heard it right, go out there and practice disappointing someone every day. Tell your waiter how you really feel about the food, cancel the vague, half-baked plans you have with a friend because you are actually too busy, or say no to an additional work project because you know it’ll drain your energy instead of fuel your creativity.

People pleasers tend to think that disappointing someone is like the end of the world for them, which causes anxiety for you. But once you get some experience with being the one to disappoint, you’ll see that for most people it’s hardly an end-of-the-world experience. Most people shrug and move on. A friend will gladly reschedule, because guess what, they’re busy too. And some people might actually thank you for your honest feedback.


A special word on boundaries. Setting boundaries and honoring them isn’t just about keeping out the bad and protecting yourself from ‘toxic’ people. Boundaries are just as much about protecting the good. Honoring your boundaries is a loving act.

What can you do to set some boundaries in your life?

The first step is to get clear on what you stand for. What are your values? Use the worksheet to write down 5 areas of your life that are the most important to you. Reflect on that. Does your life reflect these values? What is getting is the way? Where are you giving energy to the value of others over your own?

Next, is to get clear on what living on your terms looks like. I want you to create a concrete plan for the upcoming week. That sounds overwhelming or maybe even intimidating, but trust me it doesn’t have to be that way.

Use my 3-2-1 formula: write down on the worksheet the 3 words that describe how you want to feel this week. What 2 actions can you take to move towards these feelings? What’s the 1 thing that has to go that’s keeping you from feeling the way you want to feel? The 3-2-1 formula is something that you can use every week to help keep you on track.

The final step is to protect and honor the boundaries you’ve set into place. When someone asks you to commit to something, practice saying “I’ll have to get back to you.” Use this time to ask yourself if you want to say yes out of obligation or expectation or if it aligns to your values. And, if necessary, use the tips and exercises from earlier in this lesson to say no with grace and kindness.

More tips for busting through your people pleasing behavior

Here are some more tips to help you move on from people pleasing.

Realize that you can’t please everyone

Some people just can’t be pleased. No matter what you do. Because it’s not about what you do or do not do. It’s about him or her.

About how she’s having a bad month, a sick pet, or the fact that she doesn’t have a good chemistry with you. Or about him being in an unhappy marriage, in too much debt, or having a tooth ache that just won’t stop.

In the end, you can’t get everyone to like you, no matter what you do.

Remind yourself that people don’t really care that much about what you say or do

Holding yourself back in life and trying to act in a way that is pleasing to others can come from a belief that people care a great deal about what you say or do.

But the truth is that while you may be the main character in your own life and head you’re not that in other people’s lives. Because here’s the thing: people have their hands full with thinking and worrying about their own lives.

This realization that you’re really not that big of a deal as you think you are can be really freeing.

Stop apologizing

A big one, if you ask me. People pleasing comes with lots of “so sorry, but’s” especially when you are in the process of taking actions to stop people pleasing. Do not say sorry to anyone unless you truly need to ask for forgiveness.

Show guilt the door

Once you start working on ditching the people pleasing, be prepared for guilt to slink in. It sidles up to you and says “Oooh, you shouldn’t have done that” or “Gee, that wasn’t very nice.”

Guilt will hit you in the stomach with that churning feeling and thoughts of regret and self-doubt that grow and linger.

Tell your guilt “Thank you, I’m in charge now. You’re not wanted here” and watch it go away.

Use affirmations

And the final tip of this lesson, is to use affirmations. These two are my absolute favorites:

“I am worthy of love, affection, and respect without earning it.”

“I can do anything, but not everything at once.”

Keep these affirmations close by, maybe store them on your phone, in case you need a little pick me up and a boost of motivation.


Phew… that’s it for module 6. Time flies when we’re having fun, right? I hope this module was helpful for you in dealing with your people pleasing tendencies.

Remember, as with all of the lessons and strategies in this course, that it’s going to take some time and practice for you to get it right and for things to feel right. If you’ve never said no then it’s going to take some time for you to learn to say no with grace and kindness. If you’ve never stood up to your boss, it’s pretty scary stuff to do so. With practice it will become easier over time to stop your people pleasing habits.

Finally, a loving reminder, with grace and kindness, for you to work through the exercises on the worksheet and finish them before starting the next module.