Do you say yes to everyone’s requests?
Are you afraid of conflicts or bothering other people?
Do you crave for compliments and hate criticisms?
Do you have a habit of saying sorry and tend to over-explain your mistakes?
Are you a people pleaser?
Everyone of us has been a pleaser of some kind at some point of our life. Especially when we are young, we tend to please people a lot such as our parents, our teachers and our peers.
Healthy vs Unhealthy People Pleasing Behaviors
People pleasing is absolutely necessary sometimes. When there are two strong opposing opinions, sometimes it’s best for one side to please the other. Otherwise, everyone would be demanding their own way. And there would be a lot of conflict in this world.
There’s nothing wrong with pleasing others as long as you are not addicted to it.
However, there are also healthy and unhealthy people-pleasing behaviors. Sometimes, people-pleasing can get so addictive because of the rewards it brings that it become harmful.
Too much of people-pleasing and you lose your own path. People-pleasing without boundaries and you become a doormat without personality. People-pleasing with a hidden agenda and you are insincere.
There’s nothing wrong with people pleasing. It’s good that you want to help others and satisfy their needs. But you need to know when to stop. You have to be aware of your intention. It’s coming from a place of abundance or a place of lack.
For example, at times, I would catch myself following suggestions from others that I don’t believe in. Or I would change my ideas until my mentor or brother agrees with me. Subconsciously, I’m just seeking acceptance and approval from others. And this kind of people pleasing isn’t very healthy because I lack self-acceptance and self-approval.
Psychology of People Pleaser: Why Do They Need to Please Others?
1. They want to avoid bad feelings.
Some people have a need to please others because they don’t want conflict. I call this avoiding external bad feelings. They want their external environment to be peaceful and harmonious. Like for me, I don’t like it when the atmosphere gets confrontational and hostile. I would rather listen and compromise, instead of getting into a debate with someone.
What are you avoiding when pleasing people?
Other people might please others because they want to avoid internal bad feelings such as:
- Fear of rejection: They are afraid to voice their opinions because they are afraid people would reject who they are.
- Fear of disappointing others: Seeing other people being disappointed in them make them feel bad about themselves.
- Fear of criticisms: They see criticisms of any kind as an attack on their self-worth.
- Loneliness: They want to fit in and they think that by pleasing others, they would feel included.
- Guilt: Saying no to others make them feel guilty. So they rather do what other people want.
2. They want something in return.
I wouldn’t go to the extreme to say that all people pleaser have a hidden agenda. Yes, some people please others with an intention of getting something in return. For example, employees treating their boss or someone with authority exceptionally nice to gain favors. Or someone complimenting on your talent to get you help them do something.
What are you getting when pleasing people?
But there are also people pleasers who don’t know they want something in return. For example, some are so nice to everyone because they believe that everyone would be nice to them if they are nice to others. There’s an expected outcome for being nice, but they might not realize it because they aren’t aware of their belief systems.
3. They are highly impressionable.
Some people pleasers don’t have the intention to please other, they are just easily influenced by others. Any new trend, new ideas and new concepts seem cool to them. It’s not that they are avoiding anything or wanting something from others, they are just genuinely amazed by what other people say.
How could you not please others when you don’t understand yourself?
This is especially true for children and teenagers. When we are young, we lack self-awareness and self-knowledge. We are likely to agree with and believe in everything we are told. And because we don’t know ourselves well enough, we have not figure out what our boundaries are. So we change our principles from time to time depending on the situation.
We end up being someone who others want us to be. And therefore, being perceived as people-pleasing.
4. They are naturally compassionate.
Some people just enjoy helping people and serving others. They are happy to be selfless and altruistic. It’s in their blood.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to differentiate between a person who don’t value themselves and someone who is genuinely compassionate on the surface. But I guess the main difference is:
A healthy compassionate person would take himself or herself into consideration.
They please others but yet they don’t put other people as first. They see other people and themselves as equal. “Selfless” to them doesn’t mean disregarding themselves. It means disregarding the ego’s needs of feeling important and worthy from helping others.
They don’t see pleasing other people as their responsibilities or obligation. They don’t burn themselves out from helping others. Because they know if they are burnout, they wouldn’t be able to help others anymore.
5. They feel worthy when they do things for others.
As mentioned above, some people are people-pleasing because they don’t value themselves much. They based their self-worth on how much they do for others.
At work, they find themselves helping others resolve their problems all the time. At home, they are the person that everyone depends on. In relationships, they are always over giving to the point that is smothering.
When you don’t feel worthy about yourself, it’s easy to feel significant from helping others.
From personal experience, I know it feels good to be the person that everyone depends on. People’s compliments make you feel important. You feel useful when you have the ability to help others.
However, from personal experience too, I know it’s very dangerous to associate your worth to what you do for others. One time, I felt devastated when my help wasn’t needed. My self-worth just plummeted. Later on, I knew that self-worth need to come from within, not from outside. Over giving to make yourself feel important isn’t the way to go.
What if one day we aren’t able to do anything for others? Where would our self-worth be?
6. Deep down inside, they don’t love themselves that much.
Sometimes, people are eager to please others because they lack of self-love. They have the desire to be loved and liked. They thought that by pleasing others, other people would give them love and fill the void inside of them.
Isn’t this true for kids? Even if they have no desire to obey their parents, they still obey their parents because they want love. They are afraid if they don’t obey their parents, their parents would not love them anymore. And when they do not receive love from their parents, their survival are threatened. No food, no shelter, no toys!
They help others but don’t want to be helped.
Another telltale sign that a people pleaser lack of self-love is they don’t want to burden other people with their problems. They don’t want to waste other people’s time. They offer help to everyone else but they can’t accept help from others. They are so nice to everyone but ironically the one person they cannot be nice to is themselves.
Featured Photo Credit: 065/365: Show us your smile! / Ben Smith