Defined by Merriam-Webster, “a people-pleaser is a person who has an emotional need to please others often at the expense of his or her own needs or desires.”
Doesn’t sound too good, does it? But, it’s so common. If not with everyone, we do become people-pleasers for some, and it’s deeply taxing to our wellbeing.

But saying “no” can be really hard — I hate making people feel bad for even asking. It takes practice to say no in a way that doesn’t offend people, much less to say it in a way that makes folks feel happy they asked. Giving no that good takes practice. It’s just two letters, and yet saying no can feel really hard — even complicated. For many of us, saying no doesn’t just feel awkward. It feels wrong.

Here’s the good news: Saying no and stopping people from pleasing is a skill you can sharpen. The more you say no, the more you will focus on yourself and not on pleasing others.

Here are some reminders for you to stop people-pleasing:

  • Recognize your reasons
  • Validate yourself
  • Protect your peace
  • Say “No” kindly
  • Remove toxic relationships
  • Introspect on what matters to you
  • Respect your time
  • Stop apologizing unnecessarily
  • Accept the truth

The main foundation piece to train yourself top stop people pleasing is practicing the art of saying your NO’s.
Here are several ways to build the skill of saying no in different situations — even if it feels like you’re doing it from the ground up.

The art of saying the word NO:
Sometimes, we say yes because we don’t know what we want. Other times, we simply need to gather ourselves enough to speak up. Either way, here’s your permission slip to start thinking about when it’s best for you to decline.
To kick-start the discovery process, ask yourself these questions anytime you’re not positive about how to proceed:

  • Will saying yes prevent me from focusing on something that’s more important?
  • Does this potential project, opportunity, or activity align with my values, beliefs, and goals?
  • What are my core values, beliefs, and current goals?
  • Will saying yes make me even more tired or burnt out?
  • Will saying yes be good for my mental health? Or will it worsen my symptoms?
  • In the past, when have I said yes and then ended up regretting it?
  • When am I more likely to accept a request I’d rather decline? How can I reduce these challenges? 

3 Steps to start practicing your No’s:

  1. Rehearse saying no. When we are stressed and tired, we tend to act habitually. …
  2. Be clear about your priorities and truthful in your refusal. Saying no is easier when we’re clear about our priorities; it’s even harder to decline a request when our reasons for doing so seem unimportant. …
  3. Make your decision final.

Examples to say your No’s:

  • Just No: “Thanks, I’ll have to pass on that.” (Say it, then shut up.)
  • Gracious: “I really appreciate you asking me, but my time is already committed.”
  • I’m Sorry: “I wish I could, but it’s just not going to work right now.”
  • It’s Someone Else’s Decision: “I promised my coach (therapist, husband, etc.) I wouldn’t take on any more projects right now. I’m working on creating more balance in my life.”
  • My Family is the Reason: “Thanks so much for the invite, that’s the day of my son’s soccer game, and I never miss those.”
  • I Know Someone Else: “I just don’t have time right now. Let me recommend someone who may be able to help you.”
  • I’m Already Booked: “I appreciate you thinking of me, but I’m afraid I’m already booked that day.”
  • Setting Boundaries: “Let me tell you what I can do…” Then limit the commitment to what will be comfortable for you.

To release your people-pleasing habit; start practicing saying your No’s.
When you are saying no authentically, you can also say yes authentically. You are doing things that are really in integrity with who you are, your values and how you want to feel instead of doing them out of obligation or for some hidden agenda.
Let’s be true to ourselves. Let’s focus within.

Love and light to you.