People Pleasing, The Destructive Behaviour That Should Be Rejected

Most people are taught as children to have good manners, do as you are told and don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Oh and if you can’t hurt anyone’s feelings then you have to accept that your feelings may get hurt, but that is okay because they don’t matter.


What is deemed good manners often involves other people invading your personal boundaries. And if you follow that code, you aren’t allowed to set boundaries. And that is wrong.

The Downside Of People Pleasing

When you people please, not only do you get hurt but you don’t get a chance to do what you want to do because someone else frequently steps over your boundaries and prevents you from being who you want to be.

Sometimes people learn to people please because of the family environment they grow up in. When there is trauma you learn to do whatever keeps you safe. So you people please.

Narcissistic parents cause a lot of harm by making you responsible for making them happy. So you constantly second guess what you need to do to make them happy.

Becoming Addicted To Being Liked Because Your Truth Says You Don’t Matter

People pleasers can also become addicted to being liked by others and may even learn manipulative behaviours as well as people pleasing.

Behind people pleasing is the message that you and your needs don’t matter. That the things you want to do and the person you want to be is unimportant.

People Pleasing And Healthy Boundaries Can’t Co-exist

One of the problems with people pleasing to everyone is that you set boundaries with people that are very small and people don’t necessarily know they are encroaching on your boundaries. Inevitably you reach a point where you explode with frustration and anger. The other person may be shocked and surprised, not having realised they had encroached on a boundary.

Remember, you set boundaries and you only have to gently ask a healthy person not to do that if you want to set a boundary. If you say nothing then you have given permission to that person to breach that boundary.

An Example Of When People Pleasing Became An Issue

A classic example I saw years ago was when I was working in an office. One of the other team members would walk past the desk of another team member and constantly take her pencils and pens to use. The team member said nothing.

Privately she would complain to the rest of us about it. When it was suggested to her that she ask the other person to stop borrowing her pencils and pens she replied she couldn’t possibly. That would mean she wasn’t being a good team member.

One day she needed to write something down and discovered she had no writing implements on her desk. She went to the other person and exploded in anger. The other person was shocked. She had no idea her borrowing of pens/pencils was a problem.

That is the risk of people pleasing.

The Risks of People Pleasing

The team member in my example stayed up at night running over in her mind the way she should have spoken to the other staff member.

She fantasised about telling this team member not to take her pens and pencils. She became irritable and short fused and often snapped at her family and fellow team members. But never to the one she was actually angry with.

Over time she became resentful of this other team member. Far from being a good team member she had become an ineffective team member because she wouldn’t set boundaries. Her hidden anger and resentment, coupled with her irritability, was causing problems in the team. This reflected badly on her, not the other team member.

Over a period of time, it resulted in an outburst at the most unpredictable moment. Her reaction was out of proportion to the issue at the time.

The Cost of Not Valuing Yourself Enough To Set Boundaries

Not valuing yourself will rob you of your self confidence and self worth. It will destroy your sense of who you are. It destroys your relationships with others because you are constantly looking over your shoulder, second guessing people and modifying your behaviour to keep others happy.

How Do I Change From People Pleasing To Setting Healthy Boundaries?

Learn to say no.

Learn it is acceptable to ask someone not to take something of yours, or rearrange your plans to suit themself, and to consider your needs when making a decision.

Learn to understand who you are. Learn your values, boundaries, and worth.

Learn to say no to what you don’t want to do and yes to what you do want to do.

If the fear of speaking up for yourself and setting a boundary becomes too great to overcome then seeking help from a counsellor can be helpful.

Can I Help?

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your people pleasing, please contact me on 0409396608 or

I can guide you through the roots of your people pleasing and help you heal the pain there. Then I can help you learn your values, where you want your boundaries to be and to see yourself as worthwhile.

It takes a lot of courage and strength to learn that you are worthwhile, it is okay to love yourself, you are not responsible for other people’s disappointment and you can say no.

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here:

I Just Want to Vent. Why do people want to give me advice?

I think we have all been there. I certainly have. You just want to vent about something and all you get back is advice. It leads you to feel that you haven’t been heard and makes you feel worse.

Maybe you have found yourself in a position of giving someone advice when they didn’t want it. It is easy to do.

Unfortunately we live in a society where we are encouraged to give advice and not listen.

So how do you change that?

How do you ensure you don’t fall for the giving advice trap?

How do you ensure you will be allowed to vent without getting unwanted advice?

  1. If someone is venting to you listen. If you feel you have a helpful opinion or advice to give then ask if it is okay to share it. If they say no then don’t give the advice. Just listen.

When you listen, pay attention to what they are saying. Don’t try to construct some response you think will be helpful. While you are constructing that response you are not listening.

Just listen. Let them know you are listening. Acknowledge how difficult/ frustrating/ upsetting what they are describing is/was.

  1. If you want to vent to someone, ask them first if they are in a position to listen. If they say no, then don’t vent to them. This ensures you don’t dump all your stress and emotions onto another person who may not be in the right space to hear you.

When you need to talk to someone it can be hard if you can’t find anyone to vent to but keep trying. There will be someone who will listen. Remember it is also hard if you are not in the space to listen if someone vents to you.

Communication is about respect. Respect the other person who is venting to you. Respect the other person who may not be in a position to hear your vent.

When The People You Trust Are Unwilling to Protect You

This blog is about protecting children and young adults and being willing to defend them in difficult situations. The fictional scenario I am going to discuss is about a child being sexually assaulted. The scenario is not real, but it is based on the experiences of many people I have spoken to over the years.

The discussion is brief and does not cover everything, but hopefully it covers the most important aspects of the scenario.


Jamie is 7 and lives with her parents. Her father’s best friend comes around often and stays over. The last time he stayed over he touched Jamie inappropriately by putting his hand under her dress and into her undies. Jamie is upset and tells her mother and father.

What happens next can be very different depending on the reaction of Jamie’s parents.

Response 1

Jamie’s parents are upset at the friend. They support Jamie. They listen to her, reassure her and get her counselling help. They also report the matter to the police. The friend is never allowed to see the family ever again.

Response 2

Jamie’s parents are horrified and tell the friend he is not to visit any more. Nothing more is said about it. When Jamie tries to talk about it she is shut down and told there is no need to talk about that anymore.

Response 3

Jamie’s parents are horrified and the father contacts his friend and tells him to not visit any more. He meets up with the friend, who tells him he didn’t do anything and he is appalled at the way they have believed their daughter’s lies. Her father comes home and tells her she is to apologise to his friend and that he will continue coming to the house.

Response 4

Jamie’s parents tell her to stop making something out of nothing. She obviously encouraged him and she has to stop this behaviour. Her mother tells her she must avoid the friend and shut her bedroom door at night when he is there.

Different Responses

4 very different responses to a sexual assault, a violation of her boundaries, and being placed in a very unsafe situation.

All these have happened to people time and again.

The message these reactions give Jamie have long lasting impacts on her life.

Impacts on Jamie’s life

There are many ways this event can impact on Jamie. Below is a summary of what may happen.

Response 1

Jamie feels safe, supported and heard. She learns she is not to blame. She feels her parents are willing to step up to support her and protect her from events in the world. She also learns that she can set healthy boundaries and she has worth because her parent’s have put her needs first.

Response 2

Jamie feels believed and heard. She is okay, but there are lingering issues around processing the abuse.

Response 3

Jamie feels betrayed and confused. She can’t understand why she has to apologise to the friend for the thing he did that made her uncomfortable. Her boundaries have been violated but she is given the message that she has no right to set boundaries. She realises her father will put others first before her. She learns from his actions that she has no value.

Jamie may disengage from life over the coming years. Her engagement with school may be impacted. She may also start exhibiting acting out behaviours.

Response 4

Jamie feels unsafe and unprotected. She learns she has no value and that she is always wrong. Her boundaries have been violated and she learns that her boundaries are non existent. That she has not right to say no. She learns she has no worth to others.

Jamie may also disengage from family life and engagement with school. She may misbehave, become defiant, get involved with petty crime, car thefts, dangerous driving and other “antisocial” behaviours.

When might Jamie present for counselling?

In each response I may see Jamie. But it will be at different life stages and the issues Jamie presents with will be different.

Response 1

I may see Jamie to help her process the incident with the father’s friend. She will have a chance to understand and process what happened. If nothing else happens in Jamie’s life, it is unlikely I will ever see her again.

Response 2

I may see Jamie later in life. She may have some PTSD around the events. There may be feelings of shame around what happened. She may find engaging in social contact with males difficult. She may require a number of counselling sessions to process this and rewire the neural pathways in her brain that are connected with the event. It is possible Jamie may not even know what the source of her difficulties is. She may only identify this in therapy.

How could Jamie’s parents have helped at the time of the original incident? By listening to her and helping her to understand she did nothing wrong. By allowing her to express herself and being open to her continuing need to process this.

Response 3

Jamie will usually come to see me later in life. She will likely present with difficulty setting boundaries, even to the point of not realising she has the right to set boundaries. She may report finding it hard to say no to people. She may have put on weight to stop men noticing her (there is a lot of research around this well recognised issue).

Jamie will most likely have very low self worth. She will also feel a lot of shame. She may have difficulties in her relationships. Either getting involved in partners who don’t respect her boundaries, or ending relationships because she feels she is not respected.

Jamie may also find she is constantly trying to gain her father’s approval, or she may have a difficult relationship with her father.
In time she may tell me about the assault.

Response 4

Jamie may come to see me later in life. She may tell me she has difficulties with relationships. She may well be anxious and constantly trying to meet the needs of the people in her life. She may have put on weight to stop men noticing her.

She will most likely have low self worth. She will also feel shame.

Summing Up

These descriptions are very brief descriptions of what may happen to Jamie as a result of sexual assault when 7. The long term impacts of sexual assault are many and complicated.

The message I am sending is that any form of touching in no go areas is sexual assault. It will leave the victim feeling uncomfortable and violated. It is up to those they turn to for help to protect them and take a stand against the perpetrator. If you are one who feels unable to protect those in your care from perpetrators then it is important you seek counselling support to heal your own difficulties.

Jamie may well have been 15 or 25, or older. Instead of parents, she may have been seeking support from friends. There will still be impacts of any non consensual sexual contact.

When someone reports a sexual assault they need to know that those people in their life who can protect them, are willing to protect them. This is particularly so when the person is a child or young.

Sadly, many parents do not support their children in these situations. I have heard so many stories of children forced to go to the abuser’s home because their story was not believed and the parents were unwilling to protect their child.

Parents are supposed to protect us from harm. The betrayal when they won’t is horrendous.

Can I Help?

If anything in this blog has struck a chord with you, or has left you feeling you need to resolve a difficulty in your life, I can help you.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: