"No Problem!"- Memoir of a People-Pleaser
People-pleasing is editing or altering words and behaviors for the sake of another person’s feelings or reactions (Raypole, 2019).
How do we develop it?
We usually learn people pleasing because it’s praised or as a way to help us maintain safety (physically, psychologically, and/or emotionally). What happens is, we grow up in environments where placating folks is praised and, “going against the grain,” is not acceptable. We agree with people, constantly keep the peace, and always do what we’re told and it’s consistently paired with praise, rewards, or safety, we start to fall into a people-pleasing pattern. People-pleasing can also be a trauma-response, also known as, “fawning,” where, to make sure that we aren’t harmed, we start people-pleasing for safety.
Why do folks engage in people-pleasing?
Because we create environments that perpetuate it. We work in organizations where those that people-please are described as reliable, trustworthy, and kind. If we’re not aware that we are people-pleasers, we may find ourselves in situations where we recreate that original relationship. And if we continue to people-please, our own needs and well-being probably won’t be fulfilled. Here are some signs that you may have a tendency towards people-pleasing:
Signs of People-Pleasing:
You have a very hard time saying no to things you don’t want to do.
You feel responsible for other’s feelings and behaviors.
You will put your own needs at the bottom of your priority list in favor of basically everything else.
You have trouble validating yourself because you seek that validation from others.
You may gravitate towards personalities that are more demanding and dominating (Seltzer, 2008).
You apologize a lot.
You take on blame for things that aren’t your fault.
If you said yes to these, you and I have some things in common. So, how do we start moving away from people-pleasing behaviors?
Identify your needs: Sit down and make a list of your unmet needs. Chances are, this will be difficult because your default is to pay attention to the needs of others instead of yourself.
Say, “no,” more often: Sometimes, we can feel like it’s selfish to say, “no,” to people who ask of our time and energy. It’s not so much selfish as it is self-preserving. You can’t keep pouring into people when your own emotional cup is empty. Pick an event, task, or favor that you aren’t interested in and respectfully decline it.
Take a look at your relationships: Spend some time thinking about your current relationships (romantic, friendships, family, co-workers, etc.) and see if your people-pleasing pattern is popping up. Healthy relationships are equitable. If you find that you are lessening yourself for others, re-evaluate this relationship.
Identify your responsibilities: Be careful of making other’s feelings and behaviors your responsibility. For instance, you are not responsible for someone else’s depression or anxiety. You can certainly provide some support and be present, but in the end, it’s not your responsibility to heal other people.
Finch, S.D. (2019). 7 Subtle Signs Your Trauma Response is People-Pleasing
Raypole, C. (2019). How to Stop People-Pleasing (and Still Be Nice).
Seltzer, L.F. (2008). From Parent-Pleasing to People-Pleasing (Part 1 of 3)