4 Ways for People Pleasers to Live Authentically

People Pleasers often struggle with their authenticity. The primary pattern for People Pleasers is to put their own needs aside for others. Believe me, as a recovering People Pleaser, I know this truth all too well.  When you focus on meeting the needs of others over meeting your own, it is simply a matter of time before you lose sight of what you DO need. It usually takes a significant life event to shake things up for a People Pleaser. Maybe they get burned one time too many, or their marriage falls apart, they lose their job, or they lose a loved one. It is during this time that they start to consider their wants and needs – quite possibly for the first time in years.

So how does a People Pleaser move closer to living authentically? Here are 4 ways to transition from pleasing others to living your truth:

  1. Get Comfortable With “No” – You are one person. You are NEVER going to make everyone happy and there are times you are going to have to say, “I’m so sorry, I wish I could help, but I can’t.” You can always offer an alternative that works for you, like: “I can’t attend the benefit, but I promise to spread the word and promote it to others who I think would love to go.”
  2. Be Understanding – It doesn’t make you a bad person for expressing your needs and stepping into an authentic version of yourself. Likewise, it doesn’t make other people bad for not understanding why you’ve changed. They may need time to get used to the “new” you or you may discover you no longer fit in each other’s lives. Either way, be kind and try to understand where they’re coming from.
  3. Seek Satisfaction from Within – People Pleasers get a lot of encouragement and positive feedback from others for all the good they do. However, when living authentically, you have to validate yourself. People Pleasers need external validation; Authentics don’t.
  4. Baby Steps – One of the biggest challenges for those watching someone switch from a People Pleaser to an authentic is the extreme change that happens over a short period of time. For some, this is the only way for them – they have to dive right into their new persona. For the rest of us, I recommend baby steps for two reasons. First, baby steps make it easier for others to adjust to our changes. Second, they make it easier for us to “try things on.” When you are seeking authenticity, you may not even know what you want or like. So you may need to try ideas on and see if they fit. For example, since my teens, I’ve always been some shade of blonde, but a few years ago I decided to “try on” what I believed to be a more authentic color for me – my natural color when I was 3 years old, which was more of an auburn. I tried the look for many months before realizing, it wasn’t me.
  5. True to You, First – You can still take care of people and try to make them happy, but when living authentically, that’s secondary. I don’t mean this in a selfish, hedonistic way. I mean you have to stay true to your core beliefs and values first. Then, if helping someone out doesn’t conflict with that, then have at it.

Living authentically, particularly for People Pleasers is HARD. As you can see from above, you can’t really be both. However, when you step into your true YOU, you will start surrounding yourself with people who love this version of you. These people won’t ask you to sacrifice who you are or what’s important to you. When these people ask you for something, you will be more likely to give it from a place of joy rather than from a place of obligation, guilt, or expectation.

Some days you will take two steps forward, and other days you will take three steps back. Living authentically is a process, not a destination. Be kind to yourself.

Does this resonate with you? What has been or is the most difficult aspect of being authentic for you? Share in the comments section.

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email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 


  1. I’m watching my 12-year-old granddaughter who is an INTENSE people pleaser, wondering how I can help her. Yet, however evolved I think I am -I still catch myself wanting people to love me. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    • It’s a battle every day for me to stay true and not cave into “pleaser mode.” Being 12 is so hard anyway. You try so hard to fit in and be liked, while trying to figure out who the heck you are. It’s a delicate time of self-discovery and external validation. I think at that age, the best path is being taught how to say no in a kind, but strong way and being praised any time she self-advocates. You are so right though, Cathy – the desire to be loved and accepted by others never goes away. Thanks for commenting and sharing your story. <3

  2. What a great post! I was just writing something about authenticity today so much of this is timely for me. I knew I started to get it when I no longer felt so much guilt about being authentic to myself. And realizing what I was saying no to was usually nothing to get so worked up about. Wonderful post.

    • That’s such a great example of how it feels to get more comfortable being authentic. It certainly doesn’t happen overnight, but when you start to realize you don’t feel the usual guilt, it feels SO GOOD!! Thanks for sharing your experience, Pam!!

  3. I just read an article titled “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**” by Mark Manson the other day and a lot of things mentioned in that article resonate with this post. It is true that everyone wants to be liked. It is hard to say no and being authentic to ourselves. It takes time but it so worth it.

    • So true, Erin. It IS hard, but like you said, worth it! I recently read that book…I put it on my “Must Read” list a few weeks ago. Thanks for commenting, Erin!

  4. Brilliant post April! I adore that you said being authentic rather than a people pleaser isn’t selfish, it’s being true to your core beliefs and values first. So much goodness in this post. Thanks for sharing!

  5. NO – that’s my current lesson! Two letters but such a difficult word… I like your advice, I will start to practice that. I am sure it is going to make me feel better when I have to say “no” and put myself first. Great advice!

    • Marta, I couldn’t have said it better myself! Two letters N-O that can cause so much anxiety and guilt. I’m glad that you will start practicing it. Practicing small steps is the single-most beneficial act I’ve done in becoming more authentic. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  6. I’m one of those baby steppers…as I work on becoming a recovering people pleaser. I so agree that the internal barometer of self-approval is about authentic living and the “Your only as good as your last performance,” when one is looking for external approval is what I am learning to aim for. Great advice and post!

    • Ah, Jul’s, you are so right about external approval being measured by our last performance. What a stressful way to live! Thank you for sharing and commenting!! 🙂

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