RELATIONSHIPS: Are You A Doormat or People Pleaser? | Great Health Guide
RELATIONSHIPS: Are You A Doormat or People Pleaser?

RELATIONSHIPS: Are You A Doormat or People Pleaser?

‘Are You A Doormat or People Pleaser?’ by Lisa Phillips published in Great Health Guide (Dec 2015). Do you feel that people are taking advantage of your good nature? Do you feel resentful of yourself & people around you? Perhaps you feel that you want to “please” others over your own needs? If this is you, read this article to find out how to set yourself free from this cycle.
Read other Relationship articles on Great Health Guide, a hub of expert-inspired resources empowering busy women to embody health beyond image … purpose beyond measure.

Relationships: Are You A Doormat or People Pleaser?

written by Lisa Phillips

I admit it, I was a people pleaser. I suffered the ‘disease to please’ and Doormat Syndrome for years. I didn’t just dip my toe into the occasional people pleasing situation, I was a serial addict. The ‘disease to please’ kept me stuck in a toxic relationshipfor over 5 years and regularly left me feeling ‘disrespected and walked all over’. I felt resentful of myself and of other people. In time, this bad habit nearly cost me my self-respect, personal integrity and emotional wellbeing. It was also seriously exhausting due the time I spent worrying what people thought of me and trying desperately to make sure I was ‘liked’ by everyone I met. 

Fortunately, after collapsing into an emotional heap one day, I finally declared the end to my doormat status and screamed ‘I am not going to take it anymore.’ The moment had finally arrived for me to treat myself with more respect and show people how I expected them to treat me. Yes, it was scary but looking back on my life now I am so happy that I took the plunge. 

So what are some key signs of a people pleaser?

1. Your happiness depends on the approval and appreciation from other people

2. You find it difficult to say ‘no’ to other people’s requests

3. You avoid conflict at all costs

4. You feel you are being taken for granted but you do nothing about it

5. You care too much about being liked and you fear the loss of approval

6. You allow people to put you down or criticize you and you make excuses for their behavior 

Want your own FREE COPY of Great Health Guide

& delivered to your inbox each month?

Look to your right…


7. You may fear what would happen if you did become more assertive

8. You like to be seen as a nice or good person

9. You would hate someone to think that you are selfish or unkind in any way

10. You end up doing all the things other people don’t want to do

Does this sound like you? If so, this year could be the year you set yourself free. Why is the ‘disease to please’ so common and why do we find it so difficult to stop it? Is it just as simple as practicing some new assertiveness skills and learning to speak up? For many people, including myself, it just isn’t that easy. 

One of the main reasons that people find it so difficult to be assertive is they fear the repercussions. They fear what ‘could happen’ and many people are terrified that those around them may see them as a ‘bad person’ or disapprove of them in some way. 

I remember feeling terrified at the thought of saying ‘no’ to my boss after he asked me to stay late one evening. After finally plucking up the courage to do so, I ended up feeling so much guilt and anxiety that I went back to him apologizing and agreeing to do anything he wanted. This was also true for Jane, a recent client of mine. Jane came to see me due to a problem she was having with her mother-in-law. This situation had gone on for over 10 years. During this time my client had been shouted at, ignored, insulted and belittled many times. Jane could not do anything right in her mother-in-law’s eyes, despite trying extremely hard to please her and going out of her way to keep her happy. When I asked Jane why she put up with this poor behavior she responded, ‘Oh I couldn’t be rude to her. I couldn’t ask her to stop – that would just be rude and she wouldn’t like that at all’. Jane is a great example of a people pleaser in that she allowed her mother-in-law to be rude and insensitive towards her, yet refused to speak up and confront her mother-in-law about the behavior. Jane’s fear of being disapproved of was greater than her need to look after her own wellbeing. She was terrified of upsetting her mother-in-law and worried what the repercussions would be. Does this sound familiar? Unfortunately, in failing to speak up, Jane was also unconsciously sending out the message that ‘I am unimportant. My feelings do not matter. What other people want is far more important than what I want’.

Take a few minutes to reflect on your own life? Do you allow people to put you down or insult you? Do you allow other people to take advantage of you or allow others to walk all over your boundaries? Do you keep quiet and push down your feelings just to ‘keep the peace’? Do you always try to be behave how other people would like you to behave, try to be what others want you to be, agree with others and always try to fit in and not ‘rock the boat’?

Interestingly, many people pleasers learn from an early age that their needs were not really important and they learn to survive by trying to ensure that everyone else around them was happy. As adults this can easily develop into habits such as avoiding conflict, keeping the peace, always being agreeable and constantly putting other people’s needs and feelings above our own. Even when people pleasers do decide to speak up for themselves or be assertive, it is often followed with a huge wave of anxiety, guilt or ‘uncomfortable feelings’ which may cause the individual to go running back and apologizing for their behavior and trying to make everything OK again. Common fears of being assertive can also include:

  • FEAR that we will hurt someone’s feelings

  • FEAR of what may happen

  • FEAR of ‘not looking good’ or that people won’t like us

  • FEAR that we may not be seen as a nice person

  • FEAR that someone won’t like us

  • FEAR of losing someone’s approval

However, if you are ready to step into a new reality where you are treated with respect and learn to honor your own emotions, then why not try a few of my top tips? Just by starting to work on a few simple things, you will be changing the message you send out to the universe to one of ‘I am valuable and I care about myself and my own needs. I am important’. 

To achieve change you need to:

1. Acknowledge that people pleasing is a problem in your life. Acknowledgement is a great first step.

2. Make a commitment that by going forward you are going to make your own needs a priority.

3. Accept that sometimes in life, you need to show people how they need to treat you. If you have been allowing people to walk all over you for some time, this change will need some courage. Encourage yourself with soothing words and remind yourself of the positives of looking after yourself. 

4. Practice articulating your needs with someone who is non-threatening (a therapist, a friend or an understanding partner).

5. Acknowledge that whenever you practice being assertive or standing up for yourself, that you are going to feel uncomfortable and anxious. At this point many people will simply give in to those ‘uncomfortable’ feelings and return to their more ‘familiar and comfortable’ way of living. To this I declare, ‘Do Not Fear Feeling Uncomfortable’ as it signals positive changes. Hey, I like a peaceful life as much as anyone but please do not fool yourself that being treated like a doormat is a way of reducing stress and anxiety.

6. Value yourself more. If you believe that you deserve to be treated badly then you will be. Write a list of all your talents and start to recognize how valuable you really are.

7. Give up the need to be liked. If people don’t like you, that is their problem. In the words of Wayne Dyer, “It is none of my business what you think of me.”

8. Stop trying to please everyone. It is perfectly OK to do things for others but not at the cost of your own self-esteem. If you start feeling resentful towards someone then that is a sure sign that you have overstepped your own boundaries.

9. Take notice of when you hold back from speaking up and/or swallowing your words. Start to practice by stating how you really feel. Start small at first and set yourself a target of doing this at least twice a week. Praise yourself every time you do it and remember that feeling uncomfortable is a good thing.

10. Accept that people may not like it at first and may get angry with you. This is not your fault. Remind yourself that their reaction does not make you a bad person. Stick to your guns.

In conclusion, despite how scary it may feel, you do have the right to be treated with respect and you do have the innate ability to assert yourself. With a little practice it will be farewell doormat – hello empowerment. 

Author of this article:
Lisa Phillips, is the author of The Confidence Coach (Exisle, 2015). She is one of Australia’s most inspiring confidence and empowerment experts. The founder of Amazing Coaching, Lisa appears regularly on television, shares her advice in many business and lifestyle magazines and has been interviewed on national radio shows. Her popular ‘Spiritual and Irritable’ radio show attracts both national and international self-development guests. Lisa inspires people to trigger lasting change in their lives, while enjoying themselves at the same time. More information about Lisa and her book is available from this website.

To get your FREE MAG each month CLICK HERE.

Love this? Your friends probably will too. 

Why not share the love & forward this article.  

Author Great Health Guide

More posts by Great Health Guide

Leave a Reply