7 signs you’re too nice for your own wellbeing, according to psychology

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been taught to be nice.

Nod along, smile, say thank you, and most of all, try your best not to be a bother. No one likes a drama queen. There’s no need for hysterics.

As you’ve probably already guessed, these kinds of lessons turned out to be obstacles more than anything. As I grew older, I slowly realized that I was a huge people-pleaser.

And I had no clue how to stop. 

Eventually, though, I knew I had to learn new ways. Being too nice had impacted my mental well-being to the point where my close relationships were deteriorating, I was filled to the brim with resentment, and my social batteries were constantly drained.

What about you? Are you too nice for your own good?

Here are the 7 signs you’re a people-pleaser, too.

1) You feel guilty when you say “no”

Ah, yes.

That good old guilty feeling you get every time you try to establish boundaries or decline an invitation to an event.

It’s terrible, isn’t it?

I’ve been there, my friend. In fact, I used to hate saying “no” so much that back when I worked in a restaurant, I covered everyone’s shifts just because I felt bad.

Every time my managers would ask me to come to work on my day off, I’d feel angry, frustrated, and resentful because I already knew I was going to help them out. “No” wasn’t really an option.

Somehow, it felt wrong. Like I was doing something bad.

This belief couldn’t have been further from the truth, though. Slowly but surely, I learned that saying “no” and setting firm boundaries was not about letting others down – it was about prioritizing my own well-being.

When I said “yes” even though I wanted to say “no”, I was actually letting *myself* down. This was a crucial realization.

Psychology backs me up on this. Sharon Martin, DSW, LCSW, explains:

“Saying no isn’t about rejecting others but prioritizing oneself. Setting boundaries is about acknowledging personal limits and honoring your need for self-care. Keep in mind that everyone needs and deserves self-care. It’s not wrong to consider your needs and take steps to meet them. Self-care is how we maintain good physical and mental health.”

2) You compromise your happiness just to avoid conflict

So, why do people-pleasers hate saying “no” so much?

Really, it all boils down to conflict aversion. According to psychologists, people-pleasers have one main goal: to keep others happy. When this goal isn’t achieved, they feel as if they failed.

I don’t know how about you, but I can totally relate to that.

Having grown up in a household where I often had to navigate and manage other people’s feelings, I learned from an early age that the emotions of others were my responsibility.

If someone got upset, it was somehow my fault. If they were sad, I was the one who had to cheer them up. If they were angry, I’d clearly done something wrong.

Before I knew it, I was measuring my own self-worth based on whether I succeeded or failed in making others as happy as possible.

Of course, this is an extremely unhealthy mindset to have. It took me a long time before I finally integrated the belief that other people’s feelings were none of my business.

3) You hold yourself to impossible expectations

The need to base your sense of self on the fluctuating nature of your relationships with others isn’t just about the fear of conflict or the desire to always be a great person to be around.

No, it goes much deeper than that.

Most of the people-pleasers I know – me included – are extremely harsh on themselves.

They suffer from a huge lack of self-compassion, and it shows: their internal monologues are essentially like getting told off by their parents twenty times a day.

From academic achievements to work performance, relationships, or commitments and responsibilities, people who are too nice to others take out all their anger and harshness on one person only. Themselves.

Ironically, they are the ones who could use all that kindness the most. And yet they hold themselves to such impossibly high standards that they inevitably fail in that department.

The lesson here is clear: learn how to be your friend.

All that love you share with the world? You deserve some of it, too.

4) You rarely have time for yourself

pic2530 7 signs you're too nice for your own wellbeing, according to psychology

“People-pleasers often find themselves falling behind with their own life tasks and responsibilities or putting their lives and goals on hold while they do things for other people,” says psychologist Monica Vermani.

She highlights that this kind of behavior can lead to anxiety, burnout, and low self-esteem.

Again, this is no news to me in any way – I used to spend my days helping others and completing one favor after another, never quite catching a break.

And yes, it caught up with me. These kinds of things always do. There is only so much your body and mind can tolerate before they completely run out of fuel.

Now that I’m a largely recovered people-pleaser, I absolutely love getting time to myself. In fact, I make sure to carve out a bit of space for myself each and every day.

I read fun fantasy books, have a bubble bath, journal, or go on a walk. Whatever it is, I try to be present with myself.

I try to show myself the love and care I spent years pouring into others.

5) You often feel emotionally drained after social interactions

When you make your whole world about other people, you might end up feeling invisible.

From letting others monopolize the conversation to constantly offering advice and consolation or going along with your friends’ plans although you’d prefer something else entirely, a people-pleaser essentially erases their needs from the equation.

And soon, people might notice. They might take advantage (sometimes without even realizing it). They might forget to consider your wishes or boundaries because you don’t put in the effort to highlight them in the first place.

The result?

You only give and give and then give some more, but you receive nothing in return. And over time, you find yourself feeling emotionally drained, bitter, and even physically exhausted.

Remember: your friendships should fulfil and recharge you. If they only ever suck the soul out of you, you may be prioritizing other people’s needs above your own or hanging out with the wrong crowd.

6) You take it upon yourself to “fix” other people’s problems

Psychologists say that people-pleasers are so concerned about other people’s well-being that they might get involved in others’ business a bit too much, trying to fix everything and everyone.

They might even enjoy it. The more problems they can fix externally, the less they’ve got to deal with the troublesome stuff going on the inside.

That’s what they think, anyway. The truth is that you can never outrun your problems and wounds. Sooner or later, you’ll have to confront them.

There’s no point in postponing it. Take the band-aid off.

It’s time to try to fix yourself for once.

7) You’re nice because it’s comfortable in the short-term

The first few times I tried to say “no” and establish firm boundaries were an absolute nightmare.

I felt like I was failing. I was so worried others would react poorly that my anxiety was eating at me. The truth was, I didn’t want to leave my comfort zone.

Because that’s what people-pleasing is. It’s a comfort zone you’ve grown so used to that you don’t know how to function any differently. It’s a safe place where there is very little external conflict.

Your internal world, however…

That’s a different story.

Being too nice for your own well-being might be comfortable in the short term – you’re avoiding conflict and essentially getting along with everyone, after all – but it’s an incredibly unhealthy mindset in the long run.

Choosing to prioritize yourself, set new boundaries, and become more assertive is terrifying.

But it’s also one of the best decisions you could ever make.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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