It seems that our society runs on pleasing others, whether it’s our bosses, our families, our teachers, our friends, or our spouses. Unfortunately, many people focus so much of their attention on pleasing other people, however, that they forget to take care of the one person that needs it the most – themselves. People pleasers get their validation from outside sources, so they flit from one person to another, catering to their every need and desire. Oftentimes, we engage in this self-serving, yet degrading behavior without even knowing it, and lose ourselves in the process.
People pleasing can become quite addictive, as you start to see how many people you can make happy. You start to feel as though they rely on you for their own well-being and contentment, and this makes you feel needed and important. While you should strive to make others happy, it should never substitute for the happiness you provide for yourself.
Here are 5 signs you might be a people pleaser:
1. You often feel inferior to others.
A people pleaser never feels equal to his or her peers. They always feel like they can’t measure up, so they have to compensate by waiting on other people hand in foot so they can feel needed in society. Their self-worth comes from other people, and if they can put a smile on someone else’s face, their self-esteem rises each time. A people pleaser feels it is his or her duty to make other people feel good, and while that that is an honorable mission in life, it means nothing if the person neglects their own happiness.
2. You rely on other people to make you feel good about yourself.
Linda Tillman, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist from Atlanta, Georgia, said that a people pleaser’s “personal feeling of security and self-confidence is based on getting the approval of others.” At the heart of a people pleaser’s issues is that they severely lack confidence, so they have to seek it outside themselves to boost their self-esteem. If you constantly seek other people’s approval, and don’t truly love yourself, you might be a people pleaser.
3. You never stand up for yourself.
People pleasers let other people walk all over them, because they fear that sharing their true feelings will make other people dislike them. They don’t want to lose people, so they do everything in their power to get them to stay, which, in their mind, means acquiescing to their every desire. They will allow other people to tarnish their character and take advantage of their kindness, because they feel like no one will like them if they actually assert themselves.
4. You always put other people’s needs ahead of your own.
Other people always come first – you put your own desires on the back burner so that others can see what a noble and caring friend you are. You might think this makes you a better person, but in the end, it only hurts you. Forgetting about your own needs means you don’t truly care about yourself, so you cannot fully love and care for others. If you neglect your self-care and continually cater to other people despite having no time for yourself, you are probably a people pleaser.
5. You have an intense fear of disappointing others.
Because you have anxieties about losing other people and falling short of their expectations, you do whatever you can to convince them to stick around. You don’t want to disappoint them, so saying no to their requests isn’t an option. You let other people dictate your every move, and fear that speaking up will cost you your friendships. A people pleaser will run themselves into the ground if it means that they can satisfy everyone’s desires and keep portraying an image of a hero or savior.
If you find yourself caring what other people will think about you and avoiding making any decision that ruffles feathers, this constitutes people pleasing behavior.
In order to stop this type of self-destructive behavior, you need to ask yourself why you feel you must please others so much. Do you have a fear of abandonment? Do you have a need to fill a void by seeking approval in others? You first must get to the root of the people pleasing addiction before you can start to get help and reverse the behaviors. More than anything, people pleasing is a habit, used to compensate for one’s lack of self-confidence.
You need to believe in yourself and realize your own self-worth, and stop asking other people to do the dirty work. In a way, people pleasing is a selfish behavior, because in the end, you want to put a smile on other people’s faces for your own personal benefit.
Understand that you can have a healthy relationship with other people without bending over backwards for them; a relationship involves two people, so you can speak up and express your feelings. Love yourself enough to form balanced, positive relationships with both yourself and others. You deserve it.