Do you take care of everyone else before yourself? Do you say “yes” when you mean “no” and end up doing things you don’t want to do? If you routinely take care of others’ needs before your own, then you may have people pleasing tendencies.

Codependent behaviour is often disguised as a willingness to adapt to others’ needs. It can also be seen as a selfless desire to help, so it can be tricky to identify. Sooner or later, however, it can lead to relationships that are unfulfilling and dishonest, and you may begin to feel resentful and empty. Take a look at London-based life coaches KlearMinds, they have several useful resources surrounding relationships and self-care.

If you want to curb your people-pleasing tendencies, here are some tips on striking a balance between helping others and finding time to take care of yourself.

1. Importance of self-care

People with codependent tendencies try so hard to please others that their own needs often get pushed to the side. When we focus on trying to meet the needs of others before taking care of ourselves, we can lose our identity and power. It is important to recognize and value your own needs and treat yourself with love and compassion. Being able to balance caring for yourself with caring for others is an essential part of living a healthy, happy life.

2. Set boundaries

People pleasers often allow themselves to be manipulated, shamed or coerced into doing things they don’t want to do because they have difficulty setting boundaries. Having healthy boundaries allows you to determine how you will be treated by others. You can begin to develop healthier boundaries by learning to say, “No” and setting limits with others. Learning to set healthy boundaries takes practice and determination, so set them in your time frame.

3. Other people’s problems are not your responsibility

Everyone needs help sometimes. But when you feel personally responsible for another person’s problems and well-being, you strip them of the opportunity to solve their problems and create their well-being. You can give support by being an empathetic listener and providing encouragement. On the other hand, swooping in and solving problems for other people, when they are capable of solving it themselves, is not your responsibility. The next time you’re asked for help, before you automatically say yes, slow down. Ask yourself if this is your responsibility and how would helping them affect you.

4. Speak your mind

People pleasers are often indirect and don’t say what they mean. They find it hard to get to the point and ask for their rights, as they think they’re undeserving or believe their opinions don’t matter. It takes courage to express your feelings and opinions, and risk contradicting someone else’s viewpoint. But there’s nothing wrong with saying what you think or asking for what you need. Taking responsibility for communicating and speaking your mind (without judging yourself) is an extremely liberating and useful skill, and can benefit your career, relationships, and sense of well-being.

5. Get professional help if needed

If you would like some assistance with overcoming your people-pleasing tendencies, seek the advice of a professional counsellor or psychotherapist. Working with a professional can help you better understand the people pleaser within. They may also help you see things about your relationship dynamics and your own beliefs and thought processes that you would never see on your own. It might be useful to have someone like that in your corner.

Being kind and people pleasing

There’s a difference between being a kind human and people pleasing. By acknowledging your thoughts and needs, setting firmer boundaries, and communicating your wants and needs directly, you may find yourself less likely to bend and fold yourself to accommodate what you think others want. In the end, your relationships can become more honest and, ultimately, far more fulfilling.