People pleasers can’t bear to disappoint so they usually end up putting everyone else before themselves. It’s a behavior often generated by a yearning for outside validation and a concern for how others will view them if they say no. They want everyone around them to be happy and they will do whatever it takes to keep it that way.
For many the eagerness to please stems from self-worth issues, but it can also be linked to a myriad of reasons from a fear of rejection or conflict, to an overdeveloped sense of personal responsibility or social anxiety.
While at times it is important to show that you can be agreeable you don’t need to be subservient. You will never reach your full potential if you’re trying to be all things to all people.
It’s vital to distinguish between being polite and people-pleasing. It may to some seem a trivial trait but left unchecked can become quite damaging.
In this day and age, you seem to be expected to be instantly accessible at home or work and this can leave you feeling burnt out. Perhaps you’re being drained by family and friends who lean on you too much – being afraid to say no can be understood as anxiety in action.
There is a benefit in having an attitude that considers the well-being of others, however, it’s important to monitor how your people-pleasing impacts your life.
For example, the people pleaser is often unwilling to have uncomfortable conversations with their employer, like getting a pay rise, even though you may be desperately in need of more money. Many past financial missteps can be rooted in people-pleasing.
Asking for anything takes courage as we don’t like making ourselves vulnerable to rejection, but we can all start to prioritize our own happiness if we learn to communicate more honestly about what we want and need.
Pleasing yourself can mean making a choice that upsets someone else, but keeping the conversation factual rather than emotional help keep expectations clear. The transition then feels more professional rather than personal. Being respectfully assertive is a good attitude to adopt.
To change your behavior, you first need to spot where your boundaries are weak and then start to practice making yourself important. Start getting out of the people-pleasing habit by saying no to something small. Express your opinion about something simple, or take a stand for something you believe in.
Each step you take will help you grow in confidence. Give yourself permission to have an impact on other people and leave the responsibility for this impact with them.
As we give up the hit of praise that we get when we people please, we have to find replacements for others’ revalidation. Kickstart your own cycle of self-pleasing by preparing a list of simple pleasures that will give you the reward you previously earned from other people.
Appreciating small pleasures means trusting our own responses a little more and not seeing them as unnecessary distractions, it’s a way to start valuing your own time and self-worth.
People-pleasing leads to disconnection from others as we constantly worry about what they think. So it’s important to understand the value of being authentic. It might sound like a nice thing, but it doesn’t really do anyone any favors. It’s never too late to live a life that’s finally on your own terms – pleasing yourself isn’t saying ‘me first, it’s simply saying ‘ me too.’