What’s the Price of People-pleasing?

A friend phones to ask you for a favour.

You’re already swamped and you don’t have the time or energy to help them out. Plus, this particular friend never seems to return any of the favours you do for them.

They wait expectantly for your answer.

A voice in your head is advising: “don’t agree to this. You have too much on already. Say no”.

Into the phone, you say with a smile:

“Yes, of course, I’ll do it – no problem”.


Did you want to do something nice for them? Did you want to show them how much you care? Did you want them to think well of you?


But I’ll hazard a guess the real reason you said yes when you wanted to say no was guilt.

You said yes because you knew you would have felt guilty if you hadn’t.

If you’d said no, the instant the word spilled out of your mouth your Inner Bully would have popped up to punish you: “You’re so selfish. I can’t believe you did that. They were just asking for a small favour. What harm would it have done you?”

The sense of guilt would have made you so uncomfortable, even if you’d initially declined their request, you may well have ultimately agreed to it.

Sometimes it feels just too hard not to please people.

But have you ever considered the price you pay for people-pleasing?

If you’re too focused on other people’s needs, your needs inevitably get shoved to the bottom of the pile. While it’s perfectly fine to be considerate and help others, it’s no good if your own needs are ignored.

And if you continually ignore your needs, you’ll turn to food – not only as means of compensation for not getting what you really want out of life, but also as a way of filling the tank so you can keep going and carry on providing for others.

The Inner Bully will then give you a hard time about eating too much and gaining weight.

You just can’t win, can you?

Because your Inner Bully doesn’t want you to win.

It doesn’t care about the expense to you of people-pleasing.  It maintains you’re selfish if you don’t comply, don’t give in, don’t give unceasingly of your time and energy to others.

Have you ever noticed how your Inner Bully holds you to exacting high standards but not other people? It doesn’t assess if others are behaving reasonably or considerately. It just beats you up if you don’t instantly concede to their demands.

And that’s not fair.

So, if you’re a chronic people-pleaser, the best thing you can do is learn to deflect your Inner Bully’s guilt attacks.

Dismiss them with a swift – “there’s nothing wrong with saying no” or “meeting my own needs isn’t selfish, it’s self-care”.

Better yet, come up with something in your own words that has real truth in it for you.

Whether we realise it or not, we’re teaching people all the time how we expect to be treated. If you’re used to complying with other people’s wishes, that’s what they’ll always expect. It’s OK to teach them a new way to relate to you.

If they truly care about you, they’ll adapt.

Because life’s about balance, it’s not about pleasing other people at the expense of your health and wellbeing.

I can hear your Inner Bully arguing with that statement. Do you want to tell it where to go or shall I?

Food for Thought: Our Needs Bear Equal Weight

“The wants, needs, feelings, hours, hopes, and dreams of everyone around you bear equal weight to those of your own. Neither mine nor yours are greater. Ingrain that into your understanding”. ― Richelle E. Goodrich

Can you “ingrain that into your understanding”?

For some it’ll be easy, it’ll already be part of your world view. “Of course my needs are as important as anyone else’s. Why wouldn’t they be?”, you think.

Some behave as though their needs are more important than anyone else’s.

For others, it’ll be tough to believe your wants, needs, feelings, time and aspirations are in any way important, let alone just as important as anyone else’s.

Intellectually, you might know that it must be true.

But you just don’t feel it.

Continue reading “Food for Thought: Our Needs Bear Equal Weight”

What’s in the Way?

Be kind to yourself.

Love yourself.

Be yourself.

How often do we see stuff like this on social media? Perhaps we’ve heard words like these from a well-meaning friend when we’re struggling. Maybe we’ve said them ourselves to try to encourage people we care about.

I know I have.

Yes, we should all be kind to ourselves, love ourselves and be ourselves.

It’s good advice.

It’s great advice.

But for many it’s just not that simple.

Continue reading “What’s in the Way?”

Personal Note: Slowing Down

“Let’s loosen up some time and take a break to recalibrate our life. We need no endless overthinking, though. Let’s just connect the dots, set the scene and steam ahead.” – Erik Pevernagie. 

Apologies for the radio silence, folks, I hope you’re all doing OK. I know it’s been a while since I’ve published a post. September has turned out to be an exceptionally busy month for me, in what has been an extraordinarily busy year.

I make the mistake sometimes of thinking I can do it all. Weirdly, I’m often surprised to find out I can’t. I’d assumed I could keep up with my writing schedule this month as well as everything else but it turns out something had to give, and it was my blog that missed out.

Continue reading “Personal Note: Slowing Down”

Summer Rewind: Why Do We Need To Let Other People Own Their Feelings?

This post from 2018 explores why we often take responsibility for other people’s feelings, and the subsequent impact on us and our eating behaviour.


You’re about to send an email and you’re re-reading it for the tenth time to make absolutely sure there’s nothing in it that could be misconstrued and cause offence.   Then you check it another ten times after you’ve sent it – just in case…

You bump into a friend in the street.  As you walk away, you replay the conversation over and over in your head trying to work out if you said anything “wrong”.  You’re still rerunning the conversation in your head as you lie in bed that night…

A work colleague seems a bit off with you.  You instantly rack your brain to recall your most recent interactions with them.  You spend the day desperately trying to work out what you did to upset them so you can apologise and make things right…

Sound familiar?

Continue reading “Summer Rewind: Why Do We Need To Let Other People Own Their Feelings?”

Summer Rewind: What’s The Big Deal About Exercise?


Here’s another post from the archives, this time exploring how it’s possible to find the same autonomy with movement, as it is with food. Hard to believe, I know, but true.


“I’m just one of those people who hates exercise”. That’s what I used to say. And I believed it. Man, did I hate exercise. I felt angry (and guilty and ashamed) at the mention of the word and, I have to confess, I’m worried some of you may stop reading this post for the very same reason, but I hope not.

In the past, if a slim person said to me “I’m just going to the gym” I’d think “why the hell are you doing that? You’re already thin! You don’t need to go to the gym”. It was my assumption you only exercised to lose weight. It didn’t occur to me that people might exercise because they enjoyed it.

After all, what was enjoyable about exercise? Nothing. All that pain and sweating and discomfort. It felt like punishment.

Continue reading “Summer Rewind: What’s The Big Deal About Exercise?”