Payoffs of Being a People Pleaser

I’ve known lots of people pleasers in my life and don’t mind confessing to having been one in my past.

What exactly is a people pleaser?  Someone who does things to make other people happy – to please them. Seems like a nice thing to do – to make others happy.  To please them.

And that’s not a bad thing, unless there’s a cost to you.   If you are doing something you don’t want to do to please others, that’s a problem.  If you aren’t speaking up to please others, that’s a problem.  If you aren’t doing something you want to do to please others, that’s also a problem.  And those problems will come at a cost(s) to you.

What are the five costs of being a people pleaser?  1. Your spirit gets crushed. 2.  Your heart doesn’t get heard.  3. People will expect more and more – it will never be enough.  4. Your needs won’t get met.  5. Your relationships will be imbalanced and unhealthy.

Those are significant costs.  But the pain of those costs is usually not enough to get you to stop being a people pleaser.  You know the costs in the back of your mind, even if you don’t admit them to yourself.

It seems like it would be simple.  Even if you’re not a people pleaser yourself, you think that the pain of the costs would be enough to get people to stop pleasing others.  But it’s not quite that simple.

You see there’s a motive behind it, there’s a payoff for people pleasing behavior.  It’s not as altruistic as it sounds.  I don’t want to make you or anybody else wrong, but until you know the payoff you won’t change the behavior and eliminate the costs.  My goal is always to help you feel great about yourself!

Wayne Dyer in his fabulous new book, “Excuses Begone” looks at 18 of the main excuses people use to limit themselves and not do what they say they want to do.  (See the Resource section for those excuses.)  He also takes it a step further and looks at the hidden payoffs, or perceived rewards, for those excuses.

The hidden payoffs people get are: avoidance, safety, taking the easy way out, manipulation, being right, blame, protection and escaping the present moment.

Let’s take the example of being a people pleaser and look at some of the possible payoffs for this behavior.

A mother might be a people (child) pleaser.  She lets her children walk all over her and then says she doesn’t have a life.  She can’t exercise or take classes because she has to take care of her children.

You and I can look at that and see that she needs to have better boundaries.  She might use the excuse “there will be family drama” if she leaves her children and starts taking better care of herself.

A possible payoff for this excuse is “avoidance” or “the easy way out” or “safety.”  It could be a combination of all three.

She won’t change her behavior and give up her excuse until she replaces her payoff with something healthier or handles the fear of confrontation.

If I were coaching her, I’d start with having her get clarity on her payoffs and then look at what her fears really are as they relate to giving them up.  Then little by little we would replace that payoff with something else.  Like the reward of being stronger and healthier, to be around longer for her children and set a good example for her children.

Let’s look at how a people pleaser might function in a romantic relationship.  I help women every day deal with this issue.  We are taught to be people pleasers and maybe it’s in our genes.

Suppose you’re in a committed relationship.  The person is now living with you.  They don’t want you going out with your friends.  They are jealous and feel threatened and so, little by little, you stop seeing your friends.

When your friends complain that they never see you anymore you give them excuses: “It’s going to be too risky” or “I’m too scared to stand up to him because he might leave me.  And he gets so remote and withdrawn if I do go out with my friends it’s not worth the aggravation when I get home.”

So what might be her payoff?  “Avoidance” or “Safety” or “The easy way out.”  But because I’m a coach, I would also look for a more deeply hidden payoff – “Blame.”

She gets to blame her boyfriend and use him as an excuse to not go out with her friends.  He looks manipulative.  Her friends aren’t going to like him.

Maybe she would rather be with him than with her friends.  Maybe she wants to just be in the love and joy they share.  But what if things don’t work out?  She can then say he was controlling.  And she doesn’t have to be responsible for not standing up to him.  She can blame him for not respecting her feelings.

It can get quite complicated.  But you can be sure that if someone is using an excuse there is a payoff.  And until that payoff is replaced with something healthier and more honest then it will dominate and you will stay in excuse mode.

So if you know you’re a people pleaser look to see what your payoff is. Then replace the payoff with something positive. Start to balance pleasing yourself with pleasing others.  If you put yourself first, then you will ultimately be happier, more loving and giving.  And if others really care about you, that will please them!

  Imagine the possibilities. . .

© Carol Chanel

Q & A

One of my clients called the other day and asked me for some steps to keep her from getting stuck in Yuma. Since she’s been working with me for a while she had the framework that I outlined in the main article. I wanted you all to have the framework so you could put the steps to work in your life.

Happy Dreaming, Happy Achieving


If you want more information about the subject matter in the main article there are two brilliant books and a CD that are insightful and inspiring.

“The Power of Intention” by Dr. Wayne Dyer

“Ask and It’s Given” by Abraham-Hicks

Abraham-Hicks Kansas City 9/14/05 CD – single CD, about $15.
Available on their website:
Or you can call them to order it at 1-830-755-2299

These books and CD’s are uplifting, inspiring and powerful and provide the tools you’ll need to have a life of happiness, love, fulfillment and joy.

Keep believing, allowing and receiving!

Carol's Services

I teach people to overcome the obstacles that keep them stuck yet longing for romantic relationships, more self-confidence and inspiration to accomplish their dreams.

We sometimes forget what it feels like to live from our hearts and souls. We forget the thrill of taking the brakes off and flying. Life is dull if we just live from our minds.

Are you - or someone you know - settling, for less than exciting, either in relationships or a career?

You can visit my website at:

You'll find other articles there and more in-depth information about both my services and me.

Carol Chanel
Certified Life Coach 

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