Are you a people pleaser?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Kate Megase MBACP, Registered and Accredited
23rd October, 20170 Comments
A people pleaser is an individual that has developed a learnt behaviour of pleasing others in exchange for love, acceptance or approval. This learnt behaviour stems from childhood experiences, particularly if you didn't receive the love that you deserved from your parent(s). As a result of this, you develop a strong desire to be loved.
This could leave you feeling empty, unloved, lonely or feeling like you are not good enough. The truth is that you can't blame your parents for what they did or didn't do. They may have tried to give you the best they could emotionally or, may have repeated what they knew. Whatever the case may be, the past is the past and there is nothing that you can do to change the past. The most important thing is what you do within the present moment.
People pleasers often have low self-esteem, codependency traits and often feel that they are not good enough. Consequently, they seek approval and acceptance from others. They give so much to others and very little to themselves. When a child's emotional needs have been disregarded, they subconsciously repeat the cycle of being second best. Since they have not experienced being or made to feel special.
These individuals love others so much but, struggle to understand how to apply the same love that they give to others to themselves. It seems like everyone matters, never themselves. After all, you can't give what you don't know, which is self-love, approval and although you think that you are being overly loving or giving to another person, there is always an ulterior motive. You give because you need or want something back in return; "love and acceptance" consequently, a secret exchange takes place within these types of relationships.
A people pleaser struggles to say no to others, as they don't want to let people down. The strangest thing is that these individuals must surely let themselves down by allowing people to use them.
Consequently, they are often left feeling highly resentful and dissatisfied.
It's healthy to want to please others however, it can become highly unhealthy if your esteem is dependent on making people happy, including doing things so people like/love you. This behaviour can be highly addictive and difficult to break and you're often left feeling like you have given so much but get very little back.
How to stop pleasing:
- Give from your heart. When you do things for others, be sincere and ensure that it's from the heart and expect nothing back. At least that way, you don't feel let down when others don't appreciate your gesture.
- Learn to say no. If you are asked to do something that you know that could cause difficulties for you and know that you sincerely cannot commit to what is required, it's best to say no. When you agree to do everything that other people want, then they always expect you to say yes. Then you became a "yes person". The danger with being labelled is that when others get used to you always saying yes to their demands, they always find ways to manipulate you to have their own way. Remember, you have a choice.
- Have clear boundaries. Having boundaries, helps people to understand what is acceptable and what isn't. If you keep bottling up negative behaviour, you may become quite bitter and highly resentful. Which could cause suppressed anger. If you're not happy about the way others treat you, then speak up.
- Learn to be assertive. Being assertive helps you to have a "win win" outcome, when you don't speak up and behave passive aggressively, you become the victim and people may not be able to meet your physical or emotional needs.
- Begin to meet your emotional needs. If you are overly giving because you want other people to like or love you. It's important to begin to love yourself. It's worth asking yourself where that need to be loved stems from.
- Recognise that you can't make everyone happy.
No matter what you do to please others. They can never be always happy, and you could end up losing yourself in the process.
About the author
I am a counsellor, coach and motivational speaker. I specialise in issues associated with relationships, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.
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