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Are You a People Pleaser?

If you're known for doing whatever it takes to make others happy, you might be a people-pleaser. While being kind and helpful are generally good traits, overdoing it can leave you feeling emotionally drained, stressed, and anxious.

This post explores the traits, causes, and negative impacts of people-pleasing. It also provides tips on how to stop putting others' needs before your own and take care of yourself.

Understanding People-Pleasing

A people-pleaser prioritises others' needs over their own. They are often seen as agreeable, helpful, and kind, but they can struggle with self-advocacy, leading to self-sacrifice or neglect.

Signs of People-Pleasing

Common characteristics of people-pleasers include:

  • Difficulty saying "no"

  • Worrying about others' opinions

  • Feeling guilty when saying "no"

  • Fear of being seen as mean or selfish

  • Agreeing to things they dislike

  • Low self-esteem

  • Seeking approval through doing things for others

  • Frequently apologising

  • Taking blame for things not their fault

  • Lack of free time due to commitments to others

  • Neglecting their own needs

  • Pretending to agree with others.

People-pleasers are good at tuning into others' feelings and are empathetic, thoughtful, and caring. However, these qualities often come with poor self-image, a need to control, or a tendency to overachieve. While being a giver is admirable, overextending to keep others happy can leave you feeling drained and stressed.

Causes of People-Pleasing

Understanding the root causes can help in overcoming people-pleasing behaviour. Factors may include:

  • Poor self-esteem: Feeling unworthy of their own desires and needing external validation

  • Insecurity: Worrying that others won't like them unless they go above and beyond

  • Perfectionism: Wanting everything, including others' opinions, to be perfect

  • Past experiences: Traumatic experiences may lead to people-pleasing to avoid conflict or abuse.

Sometimes, the desire to help is genuine altruism, while other times, it's a way to feel validated or liked.

Effects of People-Pleasing

People-pleasing can lead to several negative consequences:

  • Anger and Frustration: Helping reluctantly or out of obligation can lead to resentment

  • Anxiety and Stress: Overcommitting can deplete physical and mental resources, causing stress and anxiety

  • Depleted Willpower: Constantly helping others can drain the energy needed for personal goals

  • Lack of Authenticity: Hiding true feelings to accommodate others can make you feel inauthentic

  • Weaker Relationships: Overgiving can lead to resentment and weaker relationships.

Distinguishing Niceness from People-Pleasing

Doing nice things is different from people-pleasing. Niceness is about kindness and reciprocity, while people-pleasing is driven by fear of rejection and a need for approval.

Tips to Stop People-Pleasing

To balance your desire to make others happy without sacrificing your own well-being, consider these steps:

  • Establish Boundaries: Know your limits and communicate them clearly

  • Start Small: Assert yourself in small ways and gradually build confidence

  • Set Goals and Priorities: Focus on what’s important to you and manage your time accordingly

  • Practice Positive Self-Talk: Remind yourself that your needs are important too

  • Stall for Time: Take time to think before committing to requests

  • Assess the Request: Be aware of potential manipulation and decide how to handle requests

  • Avoid Making Excuses: Be direct when declining and avoid unnecessary explanations

  • Value Reciprocity: Ensure your relationships are balanced and mutually beneficial

  • Help When You Want To: Continue being kind, but on your own terms and without expecting approval.

If people-pleasing interferes with your happiness, it's crucial to set boundaries and prioritise your needs. You can’t please everyone.

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