People Pleasing: Time to Refuel

At this time of year, when we are perhaps feeling under pressure to please others, we look at how we can notice and reduce ‘people pleasing’ behaviours, refuel our ‘emotional tanks’ and be more present for others by being kinder and more compassionate to our ‘selves’.

Putting other people’s needs first can seem like a noble thing to do, but when it becomes all we do, this can be problematic, not least because eventually we can run out of ‘fuel’ – physically and emotionally, leaving us unable to do much for anybody, including ourselves.

Focusing all our energy on others can cause emotional and physical exhaustion

What are some of the signs of people pleasing behaviour?

People pleasing behaviours can show up in many ways, including:-

  • difficulty saying no
  • taking on others’ problems as your own, or feeling overly responsible for others
  • avoiding conflict, to ‘keep the peace’


There’s nothing selfish about being ‘self-ish’!


It’s not unusual to feel that it’s selfish, or that you will no longer be a ‘good person’ if you start putting yourself first a little more. In fact, the opposite is true. When we reconnect to our self, listen and respond to our needs, and create healthy boundaries, it often benefits those around us too.

So, how to begin?

Saying no… We can start by practicing saying ‘no’ more often. Saying ‘no’ can be done in many ways, i.e. “I’m afraid that’s not possible right now” or “I’m busy right now, but may be free to help later”. Try saying ‘no’ to something small to start with and remember that boundaries can be flexible if necessary.

Who does this belong to? We can ask ourselves “Is this my responsibility/problem?” If it’s not, throw the ‘hot potato’ back! We are all responsible for, and accountable to, our adult selves. Whilst showing concern and offering to help is okay, if we step in and take on other peoples’ problems as our own, we are denying them the opportunity to learn and grow for themselves.

How would the scenery change if we put things down for a while?

Being authentic… We can agree to disagree. Sharing our opinions may cause conflict, but at least we are being authentic and standing up for what we believe in. We are also giving others the opportunity to get to know us properly, on a deeper level, rather than superficially.

Time taken to refuel benefits everyone

At this time of year, when it’s tempting to try and be all things to all people, to keep everyone happy, it’s important to remind ourselves that we all matter and that it’s ok to stop once in a while and refuel our tanks before returning to being there for others.

About the author

Penni is professionally qualified to practise in the following areas:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (Dip CBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, Solution Focused Brief Therapy, Counselling for Depression, Grief & Bereavement Counselling, and Dream Analysis