In this week’s episode, we are discussing people pleasing, a problem that most of us struggle with. A “people pleaser” can best be defined as someone having a strong desire to please other people even if pleasing others comes at their own expense. What most people do not realize is that when they are saying yes to someone else, sadly, there is a good chance they are saying no to themselves.

In this episode, I offer some tools to help create the self-awareness required to catch yourself out in those moments when you feel that pressure to please other people. These tools are designed to help you overcome that terrible pressure that starts to override your ability to put yourself first. I share ideas that will help you set healthy boundaries and prevent common issues that can be the consequence of people-pleasing. Such as having low self-esteem, constantly needing approval from others, learned helplessness, or the fear of rejection or criticized by others.

I intend to help you understand that it is possible to set healthy boundaries in any form of relationship, personal or professional, without guilt. You can interrupt this default behavior of being a people pleaser and create a different pattern of behavior that allows you to put your goals and needs first. You can change and start making conscious decisions in your day-to-day life that truly empower you. It is time for you to step out of the wings and take center stage in your life.

In this Episode

2:30 – Introduction
4:16 – What is a people pleaser?
6:51 – Negative impacts of being a people pleaser.
9:41 – Healthy balance and setting healthy boundaries.
18:26 – Dealing with the pain of discomfort.
21:40 – The price of being a people pleaser.
23:54 – People around you are not living the same kind of life as you do.
27:01 – Find your people!


Putting yourself first is important because it allows you to prioritize your own needs and well-being, which in turn can help you be more productive, creative, and fulfilled in all areas of your life. By taking care of yourself first, you are better equipped to care for others and contribute positively to the world around you.



Visit the A Voice and Beyond Youtube channel to watch back the video replay of this guest interview or to see my welcome video.

Episode Transcription

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  00:00

Hi. It’s Marisa Lee here. And I’m so excited to be sharing today solo round episode with you. Whether you’re a member of the voice community, or beyond your voice is your unique gift. And my mission, which has been inspired by my own personal and professional journey is to empower you to share your gift with others. Now is the time for you to discover your voice in life, develop a positive mindset, and become the best and most authentic version of yourself to create greater impact. Ultimately, you can take charge, and you can become the director of your own life. It’s time for you to live your best live. It’s time now for a voice and beyond. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  01:11

Today, we are talking about people pleasing. And one of the reasons why I want to talk about this is because it is a concept that is so misunderstood. And we’re going to define what people pleasing truly means. It is something I used to struggle with. And what’s really interesting is when you realize that people pleasing is something that everybody deals with, not just you and me. It’s a struggle for almost all of us. And you know, what really sucks about being a people pleaser is that every time you say yes to everyone else, you’re saying no to yourself. That’s why it’s time right now to quit. So in this episode, I want to try to give you some tools that, at the very least, are going to make you more self aware and are going to help you catch yourself out. In those moments when you feel that pressure to please other people. I want to help you overcome that terrible pressure that starts to override your ability to put yourself first. So let’s just get started with defining the term people pleaser so that you and I are on the same page. Okay, let’s dig into this a little deeper. What is a people pleaser? The term people pleaser refers to a person who simply has a strong desire to please other people, even if pleasing other people comes at their own expense. Wow. That means you would rather hurt yourself. Instead of disappointing someone else. You would rather hurt yourself rather than disappoint others. But don’t be too hard on yourself. Because if you struggle with people pleasing, as I certainly used to, it’s probably because you had parents who were people pleasers, and those parents raised you to be people pleasers to this is absolutely the case for me, as I was definitely raised to be a people pleaser. The Italian community I grew up in as a whole were people pleasers. All they worried about was what other people thought of them. And so every decision was based on what will people think of me from what they wore, to the job they were in the things they said they’re standing in the community. And when I visit my hometown, those people pleasers still exist in that community. I still feel judged, but the only difference now is that I don’t care. I couldn’t care less. And so if you struggle with this, and you often feel like your own wants or needs don’t matter, or you tend to bend yourself into knots around other people or you find yourself having a really hard time just being yourself, or saying what you really want to say? Well, I want to tell you here and now, you’re not alone. But just because you’re not alone doesn’t make it right for you. It can be so detrimental, often without realizing that by saying yes to everything, well, this can have such a negative impact on both your personal life and your career. Not being able to set healthy boundaries for yourself, can lead to common issues like low self-esteem, constantly needing approval from others learned helplessness, or the fear of being rejected or criticized by others, hey, I get it. Saying yes can simply be a way or a coping mechanism that we all engage in, in order to keep the pace or in order to fit in, or in order to simply feel loved. As I said earlier, every human being is instinctively a people pleaser, everybody. That is, unless you’re some kind of narcissist. And I promise you, I know those people too. So if you’re the kind of person that is so focused on other people, and what they think you may not even know who you are anymore, you’ve probably been neglecting your own needs, or silencing your own voice, or you constantly feel like a doormat that everybody walks on, then people pleasing is definitely a problem for you. And I want more for you, you must understand that you can take your power back, you can reclaim your power. And you may say, but there are times when I do need to put other people first. And I have to make other people happy. Yeah, that’s true, too. And a perfect example of this is that you have to please your boss, and you have to put your boss’s needs ahead of yours, if you excuse if you expect to keep your job. And that’s fair enough. It is what it is. In our personal relationships with our spouse, or our significant other, or with our kids or our parents, we may want to put them first most of the time, because we want to please them. And by doing this, we feel that we are showing love. There’s nothing wrong with that either. So some kind of level of people pleasing is necessary in life, because relationships are a give and take. And what we’re going to talk about today is finding the healthy balance, and setting healthy boundaries in these relationships. My mission in this episode is to help you understand that it is possible to set healthy boundaries in all forms of relationships, be it personal or professional. And you can say no, it is possible to interrupt this default behavior of being a people pleaser. And you can create a different pattern. You can change and start making decisions in your day to day life that truly empower you. And you can learn how to consciously choose when you’re going to put other people first and when you are going to put yourself first.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  09:27

The way I was raised in my Italian community, and I know this is the case in many different cultures is that what defines a good woman is what she can do for others, for her children and for her husband. So basically, I was raised to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. My own needs were literally unimportant. My role was to take care of the man in the house, and to clean up after him and the children, my own needs, they were at the back of the queue. I was last in line to eat, to take a shower before we went out. And there was little time left for me to spend doing the things that I truly enjoyed doing things that filled my heart and my soul. And this was the way it was for most of my life, in that culture. And I haven’t always been the person I am now, some of you may be shocked, specially those who have come to know me in the past few years that that was how I spent that part of my life. It is so unlike the person I am now. And my biggest struggle in that transition was learning how to create self-love for myself, and putting my most basic needs first, without feeling guilty, without feeling like I’m less of a mother, or less of a wife, or less of a good friend. Because I am taking care of myself. Even though a part of me was saying, I know, I have to take care of me first, in order for me to take care of others. But how do I do that without feeling guilty? To me, it literally felt like it was impossible to achieve this. I didn’t know how to do that without feeling guilt. And I had to learn that this has nothing to do with guilt. It’s about redefining for myself, what it means to be a good wife, and to be a good mother. And to be a good person in your own eyes first. By me, not putting my needs to the front of the queue. I was disrespecting myself. So how can I expect others to respect me when I didn’t respect me. So it’s okay to set healthy boundaries for your own peace of mind. Otherwise, people, including family will keep dumping more on you, you become that doormat for them. And when that happens, people, including family will be annoyed when you start putting yourself first. It’s true. But that’s too bad. Think about it. People are not going to like it when they’re used to having everything all their own way. It makes total sense. It is so very convenient for them when you put them first. They love that dynamic. But this is not a good way for you to live. It’s not serving you. It’s not good for you. But whether people are annoyed or disappointed or upset when you start putting yourself first, guess what, they’re still going to love you. And furthermore, they are going to respect you as well. And in terms of your guilt, think of it as a good thing. I believe that there are times that guilt is healthy. And all you need to do is reframe the way you think about it. In this case, your guilt shows me that you care. You actually care. That’s why you feel that way. If you’re a narcissist, you wouldn’t feel guilty at all for putting yourself first you’d be loving life. As you start setting healthy boundaries, start seeing your guilt as a good thing. Guilt is a sign that you’re breaking free of this people pleasing habit. You feeling guilty is because you are putting yourself first and it’s just kind of like a new feeling for you. And that’s all it is. There are times when it is a balancing act. It’s balancing your needs and knowing that along with that will be compromised at times in order for you to have the life that you desire. You are going to disappoint those who love you. But know that deep down, they still love you. Despite that disappointment. I’ve made decisions over the years that my family haven’t been happy with. I broke my mother’s heart when I packed myself and my seven year old daughter up, and we moved into state. My mum was devastated. But I had to make the move, I had to start a new life. For my own sanity, it was the right thing for me to do. My first husband had committed suicide, and I couldn’t deal with the grief, and the toll that it took on me living in the same house, the same neighborhood. And being constantly reminded of the trauma of his passing, I had to start afresh, and it broke my family. It didn’t mean that they didn’t love me, but it did hurt them that I was leaving. And they wouldn’t see me as often as they were used to seeing me. I wouldn’t be around in their day to day lives. The people that you love will disappoint you to at times remember that, but you still love them. Remember that life is given take, and you have to take that hurt to allow time and space for others to feel what they need to feel and know that they still love you. And yes, it is okay to feel a little guilty. It just means that you care. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  17:06

Once I left my hometown, I’ve discovered more self love, which in turn has made me evolve and become a different person. I learned to create boundaries. And when that happened, a lot of my family members didn’t like the new version of me. They looked at the new boundaries, I had set as rejection. As you enter a world of more self love and more authenticity, this can often lead to discomfort for those around you. People pleasing often comes from your inability to tolerate that discomfort. So many of us resort to keeping the peace or staying quiet, or not picking up the phone, because we’re terrified of creating more discomfort for others. So we deal with the pain of discomfort instead. And that is what the heart of people pleasing is that you just don’t like to feel that deep rooted tension we feel when we think, oh my gosh, what if they’re upset? What if they think this of me? What if they think that of me. All these what ifs all these blab lab blasts, all this self talk all goes way back to that childhood, to that past. That’s where it all stems from. We would rather feel the discomfort than have others feel it instead. We don’t want to face rejection and hurt from others. And there’s a lot of research around this. We’re actually wired this way because we as human beings were designed to be in groups, and we’re designed to bond with other people. And when we start putting ourselves first, this possibility of upsetting someone else is at odds with our wiring. We avoid confrontation at all cost because of this uncomfortable sensation it causes within us. And that uncomfortable feeling is what makes us cave in and become people pleasers. It’s what turns us into those kinds of people, those kinds of people pleasers, and that’s why it is so hard to break out of this behavior pattern. And ultimately, this is like a huge wake up call because people pleasing is not about other people. It’s about you You and your inability to tolerate confrontation, or discomfort in your own mind and body. And as I said, I used to struggle with this really badly. That’s why self awareness is key. But what’s going to happen is all that discomfort that builds up all that discomfort that you have suppressed by keeping the peace or falling into line, or saying what you think other people want to hear, or just doing what everybody else wants you to do, is going to take its toll on your health and on your happiness, it is going to manifest in some other area of your life, you are going to be angry, resentful, and hurt at the very least. So you will pay the price for being a people pleaser. And I want you to learn to just give people space to be disappointed. Allow people space to feel what they need to feel. Because whenever you change, and you start making decisions that either go against somebody else’s expectations, like me moving into state, mind you that was a huge one, it is going to change the dynamic in a relationship. When I moved into state, my family saw it as rejection. But let’s go back, let’s go back to the bottom line here. I’m allowed to feel how I feel. And so you and others are allowed to feel how they feel. We’re all allowed to make decisions that we need to make for our own good. And if we allow space for each other, to feel what we need to feel in the moment, what comes through is the love, I promise you.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  22:21

I consider myself a very independent, actually a fiercely independent person. And I’m definitely very disciplined in whatever I do. But that leads me to living a life that is very different from most of the people I surround myself with. And I spend a lot of time on my own because people don’t get it. They have no idea what my day to day life looks like, especially moving forward, because they’re not living the same kind of life as I am. This is a really hard one. And I had to learn that when you start to make very deliberate changes, whether it’s in your health, or maybe you’ve launched a new business, or you start studying or embarking on a new career path. And now you’re seeking deeper meaning of what life is for you and your life’s path. You don’t have to ditch those people just because they don’t get it. They can continue to be in your life. And they may always be a part of the rest of your life. But you need to come to terms with the fact that they’re never going to understand what you’re going through. Because they don’t live the day to day life that you’re living. In my life. There are very few people in my circle, including family members who actually understand what I do, and why I do it. I can count them on one hand. Even my husband struggles to understand at times when it comes to me speaking on international stages, or posting my podcast or creating content for a new coaching program. Most of the people in my life scratch their heads because they’re not in my world. They’re in their own world. And I’ve had to learn that that is okay. And this can go two ways. If you’re someone who was super self disciplined in in a particular area in your life, or trying to build a new business and being super focused and others don’t understand, and they don’t share any interest in learning about what it is that you do and and some of them may even pretend it’s not happening, which is often what happens with me, then perhaps, instead of being a people pleaser, and changing your behaviors, you may need to rethink those relationships. If you want to move forward in that part of your life, maybe you have to get super intentional about seeking out more like minded people in your life, either through mastermind groups, or attending online classes, or going to different personal or professional development events. You’ve got to find those people who are up to what you’re up to, because they will understand and support you. I have those people who support me and I speak to one of them at least once every week. And usually, I do this via zoom call. Because most of those people are overseas, I had to learn the lesson to stop seeking validation from some of the people who are already around me. You need to validate yourself by making decisions that work for you. For me, to move forward with my future goals. I had to stop being a people pleaser. I had to stop caring what others think of me. If you’re putting yourself first and this sounds like you, then why on earth would you seek validation or advice from those people, especially those who are unqualified to validate your happiness, your life and your choices, it’s time to start looking to people who have made the changes that you want to make, who had the values that you want to have, not only will they understand what it takes to make this change, but they also have the confidence and the track record and the experience to cheer you on.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  27:29

I think you’re starting to realize by now. Well, I hope you have that. Wow, this people pleasing thing isn’t really about saying no. It’s about self awareness. It’s about setting boundaries. And it’s your ability to catch those moments where those uncomfortable feelings rise up and learn to tolerate them. It’s about your ability to know that there are going to be times in your life, where you’re going to make decisions that people that you love deeply, are going to be disappointed by you. And you have to make space for them to feel that disappointment and hurt. There are also going to be times in your life where you’re pursuing a change in your life that nobody around you understand, and they don’t get it. You have to stop this default behavior of being a people pleaser of seeking validation and advice from the people who don’t understand what you’re doing. And when you learn how to do that, and start making decisions that really empower you, in the long run, your life is going to change and it’s going to be more meaningful. It’s going to be richer, and you’re going to feel more agency and control in your life. Remember, when you say yes to someone else, you may be saying no to you. You’re probably thinking though, I don’t know where to start because I have never, ever, ever put myself first and I get it. Remember, self awareness comes first. And you have to get deliberate about defining the person you want to become. It can make you so much stronger. My friend people pleasing is not about other people. It’s about you find the strength to say no. Tell yourself. I’m not going to sit here in this discomfort. I’m not going to do something that does doesn’t serve me build self awareness and have the ability to say no. Take charge of your life. No strengthens your self discipline. No keeps your goals. No keeps your happiness front and center in your life. This is so powerful. Every time you say yes to you, you are proving to yourself that you deserve to be happy. So learn to say no. Start tolerating the discomfort that comes with that and put yourself back in charge, step out of the wings and take center stage in your life. I know you can do it, do it because you are worthy of the best. You deserve the best. You are worth the effort. Always have been and always will be.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  31:07

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of a voice and beyond. I hope you enjoyed it as now is an important time for you to invest in your own self care, personal growth and education. Use every day as an opportunity to learn and to grow so you can show up feeling empowered and ready to live your best life. If you know someone who will also be inspired by this episode, please be sure to copy and paste the link and share it with them. Or share it on social media and use the hashtag a voice and beyond. I promise you I am committed to bringing you more inspiration and conversations just like this one every week. And if you would like to help me please rate and review this podcast and cheer me on by clicking the subscribe button on Apple podcast right now. I would also love to know what it is that you most enjoyed about this episode and what was your biggest takeaway? Please take care and I look forward to your company next time on the next episode have a voice and beyond.