People-pleasing might not look like something bad. What’s wrong with being nice to others, trying to help them out, and make them happy? However, people-pleasing goes beyond simply being nice and kind to others. It involves editing your behavior for the sake of other people’s feelings or reactions. In this article, I will share with you what people-pleasing is, how you can identify a people pleaser, how this affects your life, and what you can do about it. Read on.
What Is a People Pleaser?
A people pleaser is a term used for describing a person who pleases others just for the sake of keeping them as a friend or making them happy.
People-pleasing is a strategy for coping with the lack of security in a relationship. A people pleaser’s goal is to keep anyone from knowing just how bad and insecure they feel about themselves and they will strive for this goal at any cost. They hope that saying “yes” to everything asked of them will help them feel accepted and liked.
In an intimate relationship, a people pleaser frequently paints illusions that depict what they believe their partner wants to see in them and never show their true face of who and what they really are.
11 Signs of a People Pleaser
Now, how can you tell if you are a people pleaser? Here are 11 telltale signs that you can be one.
#1: You need others to like you
Do you often catch yourself worrying about rejection? Do you have a strong desire of being needed? Do you believe that when people need you, there is a better chance of receiving affection from them? Are these worries, desires, and beliefs often lead to specific actions designed to keep people happy with you so they don’t reject you?
If you anwered “yes” to at least one of these questions, that could be a sign that you are a people pleaser.
#2: Sometimes you feel like you’re being taken advantage of
For some people it’s easy to recognize and take advantage of a people pleaser. They know you will agree to whatever they ask, so they will keep on asking. And you keep saying yes, because you are afraid of being rejected and want to keep them happy.
#3: You’d rather do something you don’t want to than say “no”
Do you feel uncomfortable of saying “no” even if you’re asked for something you don’t want to do? Do you sometimes fake an illness (or being busy with work) to get out your commitments? That could be a sign of a people pleaser?
You might worry that telling someone “no” will make them think you don’t care about them. For you, it seems like a safer option to just agree to do whatever they want, even if you don’t actually have the time or desire to help.
#4: You apologize often
People pleasers tend to apologize often, even when it’s not necessary or when it’s not even their fault. Sometimes it may seem like they apologize for being themselves. You should be aware that frequent apologies can be a sign of a bigger problem.
#5: You feel exhausted and stressed
Do you feel like you don’t have enough focus or/and energy to complete a task, reach your goals, or lead your project to success? Is your own life disorganized? Are you often late? Do you have a feeling of being barely held together? This could be a sign that you’re a people pleaser. A lack of boundaries eventually leads to burnout, exhaustion, and stress.
#6: You can’t stand being criticized
Even a small criticism can seriously upset you, shake your self-esteem, and even turn you against the person who said it. When your self-esteem depends on other people’s opinion of you, you can never feel secure and relaxed. You are in constant need of proving your worth by pleasing others. And criticism is a sign that your technique isn’t working. That’s why you feel so upset when others criticize you.
#7: You need praise to feel valuable
A people pleaser depends on validation. If your self-worth depends on what others think about you, you’ll only feel good when others shower you with compliments. Also, if you do something for people, you always expect something in return – gratitude, a good opinion of you, nice words about you, appreciation, etc. Usually, deep inside you know exactly how you want a person to react and what to say in gratitude to your action. However, such expectations often fail.
#8: You pretend to agree with everyone
Agreeability seems like the quickest way to win approval. However, if you pretend to agree with someone/something just to keep everyone happy, you’re setting yourself and others up for future frustration.
#9: You suffer if someone is angry at you
When someone is angry at us, it’s usually pretty uncomfortable for most of us. However, a people pleaser takes this uncomfortable feeling to the next level. Knowing that someone is angry at you feels so bad that you’ll be more likely to compromise your values just to overcome this situation.
#10: You often feel frustrated and resentful
You spend the majority of your time doing things for others. The people you help might appreciate your sacrifices. But they may also not realize that you’re making sacrifices for them.
In either case, being conditionally nice expecting people to treat you a certain way, can eventually cause frustration and resentment. This often turns into passive-aggressive behavior. Such behavior can confuse or even upset people who genuinely don’t understand what’s happening with you.
#11: You’re a giver with a goal of being liked
Being a people pleaser usually means you are a giver. You like giving to others whatever you can – your time, attention, compliments, support, help, gifts, money, etc. Making sacrifices for others might feed your self-esteem and make you feel more worthy of being liked by others. However, such a tendency can also lead to a sense of martyrdom.
Why Being Too Nice Can Be Dangerous
Being a people pleaser is an everyday struggle when you’re constantly under big pressure. Though it might feel good and very satisfying to be recognized as a nice person, it puts you under extreme pressure to keep up with the self-image of a saint. Therefore, most people pleasers struggle with stress all the time.
When you’re a people pleaser no one really knows the authentic you – they only know the image that you present them with. This often makes you feel lonely, “invisible”, and “unseen,” even if you are constantly in the spotlight.
Being a people pleaser, you may not be conscious of suppressing some of your negative emotions, but eventually, you will have to face the consequences. You can’t sacrifice yourself to other people’s needs, deny yourself, and expect to feel fine in the longterm. Suppression of emotions eventually results in physical or psychological breakdowns. Many chronic mental and physical illnesses are caused by the desire to please others.
It’s very important to come to the realization that people-pleasing is a self-destructive pattern. At first, it might come across as a selfless act. However, people-pleasing is actually a selfish act because you’re trying to control someone else’s reaction towards you by behaving in a certain way.
As a rule, people-pleasing is based more on the desire to be in control than it is to please other people. The desire to be liked by others is just a symptom of the desire to be in control because deep down you feel powerless or worthless.
How To Stop Being a People Pleaser?
#1: Learn to say “no”
You don’t have to say “yes” all the time. Realize that you have a choice to say “no” anytime you feel uncomfortable doing something. By learning to say “no” when you feel like it, you will not look like you don’t care but it will show people that you are being authentic and truthful with them.
#2: Set clear boundaries
Ask yourself what you’re willing to do, and don’t go beyond these limits. Always let people know when they’re stepping over your boundaries. Be clear and polite. Don’t feel bad about telling people that they can’t just pop over when they want to or borrow your things without asking or call you in the middle of the night.
#3: Take your time to analyze the situation before agreeing into something
When someone asks you for a favor, it’s perfectly fine to say that you will need some time to think about it. This gives you the opportunity to analyze the situation and decide if you can commit to helping them. Don’t hesitate to ask the details about the commitment for clarifying what exactly is needed from you.
When analyzing the situation, ask yourself:
- How stressful is this going to be?
- Do I have the time and desire to do this?
- What am I going to give up/sacrifice for committing to this task?
- How pressured or stressed am I going to feel?
If the person needs an answer right away, it’s best to say “no”. Rushing yourself into “yes” may get you stuck in a situation that is too stressful for you to handle.
#4: Set a time limit
If you do agree to help someone out, it’s essential to limit your time frame when you’re available for this person. For example, you can tell them that you are only available from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. If they really need your help they will make it work. But do not sacrifice your plans for other people’s needs, especially if they don’t respect your time and boundaries.
#5: Don’t give unnecessary excuses
Being a people pleaser created a habit in you to always defend your decision to say no to someone so they understand your reasoning. But this actually backfires. As soon as you start explaining, you give the other person a perfect opportunity to come back and give you options to whether to do it later or ask to adjust your schedule, or something else. And at the end of the day, you will end up still doing what they want.
#6: Don’t apologize if it’s not your fault
Pay attention to when you’re apologizing and consider if your apology is really necessary and you’re really at fault. Ask yourself if you’re really responsible for the situation. If the answer is “no”, you don’t need to apologize just to make people comfortable.
#7: Use positive self-talk
Use positive self-talk to remind yourself of your priorities and boundaries. For example, you might say “I can do this,” “I have the right to make decisions and do the things the way I want them to be done,” “My decision is right for me”, “My values are more important than saying yes in this situation”, etc.
A people-pleasing is a daily struggle that crashes your spirit constantly. This destructive pattern leads to intense anxiety, chronic pain, and tons of repressed emotions. In order to solve this problem, you need to shift your focal point from the outside to the inside world. Be gentle to yourself. Remember that to be loved is your birthright. You don’t have to sacrifice yourself for being liked or appreciated. Eventually, your authentic self will blossom in its divine beauty and your light will be enough for people wanting to be around you.