The Key To Ending The Cycle Of People Pleasing

I will never forget when I began to say “no” more in my life. I turned down invitations and stopped responding to people that were toxic. Not only was it liberating, it freed up my time and gave me even more time to really think about what exactly I wanted. I simply stopped wasting my time on other people.

It was truly fascinating and kind of scary to start saying ‘no’ to invitations. I would realize that on a Saturday night (when socially, I was meant to be partying and drinking with friends) I actually had no plans except to sit at home and watch my favorite TV shows. It was a shock to my nervous system and I found myself very lonely at times. But being lonely was better than being overwhelmed. Being free on a Saturday night was better than having to go to something I hated.

You may be wondering what this has to do with people pleasing and ending the cycle in your life? The key to ending the cycle of people pleasing starts with relearning to say the first word most of us learn as babies, “no.”

It is such a simple word but it can have so much impact. It can deny, it can stop, it can do a lot of things. It can become your best friend. The reason we often stop using the word “no” is because when we were kids our parents wanted us to agree with them. When we said “no” we were considered rude or rebellious, so those of us who wanted love from our parents or caregivers stopped saying it.

However, as you grow up into adulthood, setting boundaries and saying “no” are foundations to living a happy and fulfilled life. People pleasers are often burnt-out, tired, and angry at the word. Do you feel any of these things?

So how do you set boundaries?


  1. You have to change your mindset. You have to get really clear about why you are a people pleaser. What happened as a child that created this mindset that you have to please everyone in your life? Write it out in a journal and be very clear about the origin of this behavior. This will help you as you begin to say “no” more in your life. You can remind yourself that it is not YOU but the programming from childhood that is occurring when you say yes.

  2. As invitations begin to flood in, always take a full day to decide whether you want to go or not. This is important because it will give you space away from that person plus it's easier to say “Let me think about it” or “Hmm, I will check my calendar and get back to you” rather than a straight “no” to someone's face. You can follow up with a text with a “no” which is much easier for some to handle or take your time to decide if the YES will bring you joy.

  3. For every invitation you say “yes” to, say “no” to two others for no reason. This is a great game to play with yourself when you are starting off. It will help you keep track of your progress and if anyone gets annoyed then you can blame it on me. Challenge yourself to put your mental health at the forefront, not your social life.

  4. Find the why behind your reluctance to say “no”. The #1 reason people don’t want to say “no” is because as children we were taught that if you did, your parents would chastise you for being rude. Because of this, you often are scared people will be angry or annoyed with you if you say “no” — but the truth is that most adults actually do respect each other's boundaries and that most likely this reaction is something you're projecting onto the other person because of programming from your childhood. And if the person is angry then explain to them your ‘why’ and if they don’t get it then it's time to get better friends. This is why finding the reason “why” you have trouble with saying “no” can really help you stay on track.

You may even be thinking, what will I do with my time if I can commit to saying “no.” The answer is: something for YOURSELF.

Finally, you will have time to concentrate on you, your passions, your needs, your own self care. You can only truly embrace your next step in life when you free your time and begin to add in your own passions.

Use this time to start that hobby you are interested in, or that side hustle that you know will make you more money. Perhaps you can adjust to a longer morning or evening routine. You also choose to spend more time with the people you actually care about and love.

The possibilities are endless.

Time is a resource you can never get back. Use it wisely so start saying ‘no’!


This piece was written and contributed by:

Morgan Doman

Life and Clarity Coach

My name is Morgan Doman and I am a Life and Clarity Coach. I help struggling people-pleasers to gain clarity and grow into inspired leaders and entrepreneurs. I have years of experience in the nonprofit sector which has given me a deep-rooted knowledge of how to combine business with values. I am certified by the Human Potential Institute and specialize in embodiment and transformational coaching. I love to coach to find clarity and then support my clients in actually taking action to create their life. I offer a 16-week coaching program to help you gain clarity so you can re-examine and upgrade your life to become an inspired leader and entrepreneur. | @morgan.doman Facebook /Morgan Doman Coaching | YouTube /Morgan Doman


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