The Problems with People Pleasing

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“People pleasers” are often known as people who are always there, reliable and helpful to a fault.  They are always doing things for others, as though they are “on call” for friends and family.

In some ways, this can seem like a good thing.  But for many people who fall under the description of being a “people pleaser”, it can be stressful, exhausting and depleting.

People pleasers…

  • Have a hard time saying “no”.
  • Find it difficult to express their own opinions. For some people, they might even struggle with knowing what their opinions actually are.
  • They worry excessively about other people and their actions are often based on what other people might think.

For many people pleasers, there is a fear of abandonment, fear of retaliation, and fear of confrontation.

Even though people who people please are doing things and basing their actions on others, many times, the focus is often not about the other person, but worries about themselves.  

Many of these individuals have difficulty engaging in conflict and taking care of themselves.

This may be because there are people who, based on their circumstances, had no choice, but to take care of others. 

It may have started out as a need in an earlier part of life, but could have become a way of being that’s become too excessive and unmanageable over time.

One way to tell if you’re a people pleaser vs a balanced feeling of doing things for others, is how it feels.

If it feels like you have to do something versus doing it because you want to more often than not, then it can be a sign that you have people pleasing tendencies.

While doing things for others is part of what happens in mutually satisfying relationships, there is a difference with people pleasers who often find that they are stressed, frustrated or upset and experience giving as more of a ‘one way street’.

Over time, many people pleasers might find that they can develop more serious difficulties such as anxiety, depression and co-dependency difficulties in relationships.

Three things to think about if you’re a people pleaser…

  1. Realize that’s it’s not important that everyone like you. It’s not even possible. Through no fault of your own, there are also some people who won’t like you or what you do, no matter what you do.
  2. When you say “no,” you’re saying “yes” to something else. When you say “no” to something that you are too tired or too busy to be able to do for someone else, you’re saying “yes” to spending time with your family, or catching up on self care, or something else that’s meaningful for you.
  3. It’s true that if you change the way you are with people, some people may be very upset and you may even lose them.  It can be helpful to look at the quality of those relationships in general and also expect that emotionally working through these changes will be uncomfortable, but just because it’s uncomfortable doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.

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