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  • Writer's pictureConnie Leach

The Perils of People Pleasing

Being a people-pleaser refers to a tendency or characteristic of an individual who consistently prioritizes the needs, desires, and expectations of others over their own. It tends to go beyond simple kindness.

People-pleasers have a strong desire to gain approval, avoid conflict, and maintain harmonious relationships with others.

Are You a People-Pleaser?

Look at the list below and see if any of the descriptions ring true for you:

1) Overextending: Do you tend to go out of your way to do things for people in your life based on what you assume they want or need?

2) Difficulty Saying "No": Do you find it hard to refuse requests or decline invitations?

3) Accepting Fault: Do you apologize or accept fault when you aren't to blame?

4) Avoiding Conflict: Do you avoid expressing your true opinions, feelings, or needs?

5) Neglecting Personal Boundaries: Do you disregard your own needs by prioritizing the demands and desires of others? Do you feel guilty or selfish?

6) Difficulty Making Decisions: Do you struggle with decision-making as you constantly worry about making the "wrong" choice or disappointing someone?

7) High Levels of Stress and Burnout: Constantly striving to please others can lead to chronic stress, exhaustion, and burnout. It can take a toll both emotionally and physically.

"If you spend your life pleasing others, you spend your life."

-Cheryl Richardson

What Are the Causes?

According to therapist, Erika Myers, people-pleasing behaviors tend to develop from a combination of factors, including:

1) Past trauma from childhood or partner abuse. You may have learned that it is safer to do what others want or to take care of their needs first.

2) Self-esteem issues derived from negative messages about your identity from early relationships with caregivers.

3) Fear of rejection derived from childhood criticism and punishment.

"Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner."

-Lao Tzu

What Can You Do?

According to Erika Myers, some of the things that you can do, include:

1) Learn to Set Healthy Boundaries. Check in with yourself to see if you have the time and how you will feel, before you agree to do something.

2) Wait Until You're Asked for Help: Don't jump in ahead of being asked. You don't want to take away others' ability to do things for themselves.

3) Practice Putting Yourself First. It's okay to be a giving, caring person and also to honor and tend to your own needs.

4) Show kindness only when you truly mean it.

"It's not your job to like me - it's mine."

-Byron Katie

"When you say 'yes' to others, make sure you are not saying 'no' to yourself."

-Paulo Coelho

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