Some people choose to spend so much time and effort in taking care of others. They do this not because they want to impress other people but because they just want to. People pleasers are probably the nicest and most helpful individuals you’d ever know. They don’t want to upset those around them so they’d do anything just to please them. While this seems a good thing, being a people pleaser may be a symptom of a deeper issue.
What it’s Like to Be a People Pleaser
Most of us might have tried to please people for various reasons at some point in our lives. As social beings, it’s in our nature to get along with others because our success and survival depend on it. However, experts said that there’s a fine line between healthy social behavior and the experience of emotional depletion caused by people-pleasing.
People pleasers never say no. They consistently and willingly spend a great deal of time doing things for other people. They help others with their work and are always there for their family members and friends. Pleasing other people is their way of feeling good about themselves, even it often compromises their choice and happiness. While taking care of others is noble and rewarding, it can also be toxic and unhealthy.
Therapist Erika Myers said that people-pleasing generally goes beyond simple kindness. According to Healthline, an American website and provider of health information, it involves “editing or altering words and behaviors for the sake of another person’s feelings or reactions.” Since people-pleasers extremely want to go things in their favor, they go out of their way to do things for other people based on what they assume they want or need. This is the reason why people-pleasing can cause trouble.
“The urge to please others can be damaging to ourselves and, potentially, to our relationships when we allow other people’s wants to have more importance than our own needs,” Myers said.
Becoming a people pleaser doesn’t happen overnight. Experts said that it likely developed slowly over time. But chances are, pleasing other was a behavior that you were rewarded of—something you want to feel always. Their desire to make others happy is a symptom of a deeper issue, mostly from self-issues. People pleasers hope that by doing others favors and saying yes to everything asked to them will help them feel accepted and liked.
Some may also have a history of maltreatment. Thus, they decided that their best hope for better treatment was to try to people the people around them. Experts said that this behavior is mainly influenced by fear of rejection and abandonment. People pleasers feel that being less than perfect or being difficult and different will cause others to reject them.
Some of the characteristics that define a people pleaser include feeling responsible for other people’s feelings; pretending to agree with everyone; not liking people being angry with you; not being able to say no; apologizing; acting like the people around you; craving praise; avoiding conflict and not admitting when you are hurt. Most of the time, people pleasers neglect themselves and put their needs last.
At the same time, they tend to stay silent even if they are hurt and frustrated. They choose to not voice their opinions, especially if these are different from someone else’s. Instead, people pleasers often say “I don’t know” not only because they don’t want to disagree but also because they are not sure what they want, need, or believe. According to LifeHack, the leading source of practical and adaptable knowledge dedicated to improving Health, happiness, productivity, relationships, and more, it’s not in their nature to cause division by speaking up so they remain silent to avoid conflict.
How to Stop Being a People Pleaser
Trying to earn the regard of others instead of putting yourself first can be tiring and frustrating. Wanting to take care of others is not a bad thing. In fact, if more people had a little bit of what people pleasers have, the world would be a better place. “Part of having relationships with others involves taking their wants, needs, and feelings into account,” Myers said.
However, experts said that they shouldn’t do this at the expense of themselves. According to Psychology Today, an online site that features the latest from the world of psychology: from behavioral research to practical guidance on relationships, mental health and addiction, a balance needed. There would also come a time where other people would take advantage of you. Due to your people-pleasing tendencies, they would assume that you could do anything for them and use this for their own gain.
People pleasers are also at higher risk of being manipulated and abused. It would be a lot harder for them to reach their greatest potential if they are trying to be all things to all people. Here are some ways to break free from being a people pleaser:
1 – Put yourself first
While this may be hard at first, experts said that this is one of the most important things to do. Imagine what it would be like to do what makes you feel good and what pleases you without worrying about taking care of others, fulfilling others’ demands, worrying what others think of you, or feeling guilty. Putting your own needs first doesn’t mean you are selfish; you are just prioritizing yourself.
“It’s OK to be a giving, caring person. It’s also important, however, to honor and tend to our own needs,” Myers said.
2 – Express your thoughts
To start getting out of the people-pleasing habit, voicing out your thoughts and opinions would be a huge help. Not hiding behind your fear of being humiliated or rejected shows that you take a stand for something you believe in. Each step will help you gain more confidence.
3 – Set boundaries
It’s okay to still be kind and help people. However, you should set your own limitations—when or how you should help them and as to what extent. In this way, you are letting other people know that you can’t be manipulated and abused easily.
Experts also said that it would be a lot helpful to seek professional help. A therapist can help you in building the mental strength you need.