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5 Tips to Stop Being a People-Pleaser

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Sep 01, 2019

Question

Salaam Aleikom. I would like to receive some advice. I'm aware that I tend to please people. I try to agree or say things, so people will like me, or I say things to sound interesting. I also tend to play a conversation in my head over and over that already happened and blaming myself for not saying the right stuff. I hope you can give me some tips to handle this.

Counselor

Answer


5 Tips to Stop Being a People-Pleaser

In this counseling service:

• The first step in stepping away from being a people pleaser is to explore why you like to please people.

• The next step then in moving forward is to work on your mentality towards your situation.

• Islamically, the best way to attain this is to remember that the approval of Allah is more important than the approval of any human being in this life.


Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

This is a problem that many people experience, so rest assured you are not alone. Sometimes it might not be a bad thing, but it can have negative consequences. Therefore, it is important that people like yourself try and find alternative ways to manage their desire to continually please everyone.

Why Do You Like to Please People?

The first step in stepping away from being a people pleaser is to explore why you like to please people. Is it that your self-confidence is based on the approval of others and, therefore, you seek to please people as a means of validation? Is it that it makes you feel like a good person? Is it because it makes you feel important and needed? Is it because you don’t want to appear lazy or uncaring? Is it because you fear you won’t be accepted by others in the group? Or is it just a bad habit?

5 Tips to Stop Being a People-Pleaser - About Islam

Once you have identified why you are a people pleaser, you can explore alternative ways to have these needs met. Based on what you have said, it seems that you do it to make people like you. If this is the case, then you can find alternative ways of getting others to like you, and/or find ways to be happy as you are without needing the approval of others.

Seek to please Allah

Islamically, the best way to attain this is to remember that the approval of Allah is more important than the approval of any human being in this life. You can use this thought as a means to motivate your behavior to be that that will please Him as a priority over others.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah() said, “He who does not acquire knowledge with the sole intention of seeking the Pleasure of Allah but for worldly gain, will not smell the fragrance of Jannah on the Day of Resurrection.” [Abu Dawud]. (Riyadh as-saliheen, Book 13, Hadith 1391)

And the example of those who spend their wealth seeking means to the approval of Allah and assuring [reward for] themselves is like a garden on high ground which is hit by a downpour – so it yields its fruits in double. And [even] if it is not hit by a downpour, then a drizzle [is sufficient]. And Allah, of what you do, is Seeing. (Qur’an, 2:265)

So is one who pursues the pleasure of Allah like one who brings upon himself the anger of Allah and whose refuge is Hell? And wretched is the destination. (Qur’an, 3:162)

The benefits of seeking His pleasure far outweigh the benefits of seeking the pleasure of those in this life. It will bring you peace and contentment in both this life and the next on a deeper level than acceptance from fellow humans. It could even serve as an indirect way to please others as they feel pleased that you are so serious about seeking His pleasure.

Consider consequences

Having identified why you are a people pleaser, considering the consequences of the actions of being a people pleaser will help to motivate you to make some changes. Constantly seeking to please others can lead to stress, overload and in the worst case scenario, burnout as you spend too much time tending to the needs of others whilst neglecting your own.

You have a choice

The next step then in moving forward is to work on your mentality towards your situation. As it stands you are used to saying ‘yes’ to any requests made of you. What you need to realize is that you also have the choice to say ‘no’. Don’t limit your responses to only ‘yes’ as an option.

Practically, there are several ways to make changes.

Say ‘no’ with conviction

Starting with smaller requests to make it easier on yourself, say ‘no’ and say it with conviction. Be absolutely sure about it even if you have some niggling doubts inside. Even if you feel you regret it after, it is a stepping stone towards not saying ‘yes’ everyone.

Settings boundaries

Saying ‘no’ with conviction is a way of setting boundaries. As someone who always seeks to please others, you will be easily taken advantage of. Saying no on occasions sets the boundaries with others that you will not comply with all their requests. Constantly seeking to please people can sometimes produce negative feelings towards those you desire to please. So, by setting boundaries this will help to minimize the chances of this occurring.

Find a middle ground

The way forward in this situation is not to say no every time, but to prioritize and identify the things that are worth doing and the people who are really worth pleasing.


Check out this counseling video:


If someone requests something of you, rather than saying yes or no in the moment, say you need time to think. During this time, consider if you have to do it. What will happen if you don’t?  Do you really need to? Or say you can help with such and such, but not the full request. Or on a certain day and time that’s good for you, not them. It also buys some time to build the confidence to say no if necessary.

Don’t give excuses

Of the times you are confident to say no, don’t give excuses as to why you are declining. Making excuses gives them the space to say, for example, ‘you can help when you’ve finished instead’ or,’ it’s not that much hard work’

Benefits

Ultimately, remember the benefits of not always seeking to please others. It will give you time for yourself to focus on your own wellbeing and pleasing yourself, not others.

Summary

Overall, remember you can’t please everyone. Continually seeking to do so will have negative consequences. There are, however, steps you can take to avoid these.

Begin by identifying why you do it in the first place and seek these needs met in healthier ways.

Remember that there is always the option to say no. When you do, do so with conviction and confidence, setting firm boundaries for your own benefit.

Make the process easier on yourself by finding a middle ground and taking time to consider options carefully.

Ultimately, taking these steps will have benefits for both your psychological and social health.

May Allah guide you and make it easier for you to seek His pleasure over that of others. May He help you to find contentment in yourself.

Amen,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Hannah Morris

Hannah Morris is a mum of 4 and she currently works as Counsellor and Instructor of BSc. Psychology at the Islamic Online University (IOU). She obtained her MA degree in Psychology and has over 10 years of experience working in health and social care settings in the UK, USA, and Ireland. Check out her personal Facebook page, ActiveMindCare, that promotes psychological well-being in the Ummah. (www.facebook.com/activemindcare)

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