Are You Too Nice?

CLEO (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

Are you the one ev­ery­one turns to when they need help? Do you make all the plans for your friends and fam­ily? Well un­for­tu­nately, all this peo­ple-pleas­ing might ac­tu­ally be bad for you.

There’s noth­ing wrong with want­ing to lend oth­ers a help­ing hand, un­less it’s to the detri­ment of your own men­tal health – that’s when it crosses the line from “gen­er­ous” to “peo­ple pleas­ing”. In an ar­ti­cle for

Psy­chol­ogy To­day, Dr Sherry Pagoto de­scribes peo­ple pleasers as those with “an in­tense need to please and care for oth­ers… deeply rooted in ei­ther a fear of re­jec­tion and/or fear of fail­ure.” In short, it takes help­ing oth­ers to a de­cid­edly un­healthy level.

Not only can want­ing to please oth­ers all the time put a lot of ex­tra stress and pres­sure on your­self, but in the worst case sce­nario, “you’ll wake up and find your­self de­pressed be­cause you’re [over­loaded and] can’t do it all,” says Su­san New­man, a so­cial psy­chol­o­gist and au­thor of The Book of No: 250 Ways to Say It – And Mean it And Stop Peo­ple-pleas­ing For­ever.

Have trou­ble say­ing “no”? Here are some ways to break the peo­ple pleaser syn­drome.

Set your bound­aries

We all have our lim­its and bound­aries – they’re ac­tu­ally very healthy to have. It’s best to know what makes you un­com­fort­able or overly stressed be­fore you say “yes” to a favour. With­out bound­aries, you let peo­ple take ad­van­tage of you, and ul­ti­mately, that does noth­ing for your self-es­teem.

Learn to say “no”

This might be harder than it sounds – es­pe­cially if you’re used to say­ing “yes” all the time! To help you ease into the habit of say­ing “no”, prac­tise it in low-risk sit­u­a­tions. Say “no” when the re­tail as­sis­tant asks if you’d like any help. Say “no” when the waiter asks if you’d like to or­der dessert. You can also try re­hears­ing a go-to re­sponse when you don’t want to do some­thing, such as “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that right now.” As with all things, the more you do it, the eas­ier it’ll get.

Don’t feel bad about say­ing “no”

Of course, if you’re not used to say­ing “no”, you might feel guilty when you ac­tu­ally DO say it! Curb­ing the in­stinct to apol­o­gise needs prac­tice as well, but it’s help­ful to ask your­self “Am I re­spon­si­ble for this sit­u­a­tion?” If you’re not, you can stop feel­ing bad about say­ing “no”.


If you’re knee-deep in obli­ga­tions, iden­tify just one thing that you can ex­pel from your to-do list. This is a good start to break­ing what could be a stress­ful and de­press­ing cy­cle. Free up some time for your­self and share this with one trusted per­son who can help hold you to the com­mit­ment.

Be re­spon­si­ble for your own hap­pi­ness

The need to con­stantly please oth­ers can be ex­haust­ing, and does no favours for your men­tal health or self-es­teem. As much as you might want to be liked by ev­ery­one, there’s no re­al­is­tic way that’s ever go­ing to hap­pen.

Ul­ti­mately, the prob­lem with spend­ing so much time mak­ing sure ev­ery­one else is happy, is that you aren’t nec­es­sar­ily mak­ing your­self happy in the process and that can be bad for you in the long run. So the next time a re­quest comes your way, take a step back and ask your­self if you can af­ford the time and en­ergy to take it on; if you can’t, po­litely turn them down and don’t feel bad about it. In the wise words of Ari­ana Grande, “Don’t ever doubt your­selves or waste a sec­ond of your life. It’s too short, and you’re too spe­cial.”

“You aren’ t nec­es­sar­ily mak­ing your­self happy in the process and that can be bad for you in the long run .”

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