Being A People-Pleaser Was Ruining My Life—Here’s How I’ve Started Putting Myself First

For many years, I was giving everyone what they wanted at the expense of my own desires and needs. I was constantly worried about what everyone thought of me and not focused on what I thought of me. Eventually, I got fed up with being a people-pleaser and I vowed to stop. Now I’m putting myself first because I deserve it and I’m the best person I can be when I do this.

  1. I was doing too many things that made me unhappy. I was showing up for events that I didn’t want to be at because I felt obliged to be there for someone. Sometimes this is OK to do—we all do things we don’t want to sometimes when we know they’re important to someone else. However, when I’m continually making the decision in order to make someone else happy because I’m terrified of letting them down, I end up unhappy.
  2. I wasn’t doing enough of the things that made me happy. I felt ashamed of some of the things that made me feel happy and whole. For example, I’ve learned I need a whole lot of rest and some serious alone time. I never made peace with this fact and I was forcing myself to do social things when I didn’t want to because of it. No longer! Now I lean into what brings me joy.
  3. I deserve to put me first. I deserve my attention and care more than anyone else. I need it. When I’m consumed with being a people pleaser, I’m constantly putting others first, thinking of their needs before my own. Sure, I can help other people, but it’s not my job to save everyone else at the expense of myself. I’m moving myself to the top of my to-do list.
  4. It’s not selfish, actually. I know there’s a misconception that self-care and putting oneself first can be selfish. This is just that—a misconception. In reality, self-care isn’t selfish at all. It’s really just taking care of myself, which is crucial for my health and well-being. If I don’t take care of myself then I have a hard time being in this world. It’s important to just take the time to look inward.
  5. I’m a better person for others when I’m put first. I know it’s cheesy, but you’ve heard the oxygen mask metaphor. I have to put the oxygen mask on myself first before I can put it on someone else. When I’ve done that, I’m in a better place to be useful to other people. I’m showing up as a whole person. Ironically, it’s selfless to better myself because then others get a healthier, more sane version of me.
  6. More importantly, I’m better for me. Sure, it’s super important to show up for other people, but it’s of the utmost importance that I show up for myself. I’m the only one who can truly nourish me. When I do so, I’m much happier in the physical, mental, and spiritual realms. I become a more rounded person, being able to engage with life more fully. What’s a better way to honor me?
  7. It’s just not my primary job to make everyone happy. Again, it’s very important to support others and contribute to their happiness. I care about that deeply. That’s just not my full-time job. I need to build the foundation of an OK self in order to do that. To beat a dead horse, I come first then everyone else comes second.
  8. I learned that I can’t control other people. Part of what I used to do was try to control other people through people-pleasing. I’d attempt to make sure they were happy and that they liked me. In recent years, I’ve learned how little control I have over other people. Really, I almost have none. I’m happiest when I acknowledge this fact and drop the people-pleasing act.
  9. My self-care is way improved. Now that my people-pleasing tendencies have gone way down, I’ve seriously leveled up on my self-care game. I say frequently say no to activities I don’t want to do and try not to be apologetic for it. I’m allowed to say no. I now say yes to a whole bunch of things that make my heart sing.
  10. I’m still not perfect. Even though I’ve amped up my self-care and I’ve stopped trying to make everyone else happy all of the time, I’m still a human. Sometimes I have a huge desire for someone to like me, so that drives my action. Most of the time, though, I make good decisions that contribute to my well-being.
Ginelle has been writing professionally for more than six years and has a bachelor’s degree in digital marketing & design. Her writing has appeared on Birdie, Thought Catalog, Tiny Buddha and more. You can follow her on Instagram @ginelletesta, via her Facebook page, or through her website at