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All of us have a bit of a people-pleaser within. The desire to be loved and accepted are inherent characteristics that manifest themselves in often unhealthy ways. If we didn’t care at all about what other people thought, we would probably come off as rude, aggressive, and unnecessarily frank. But an excessive desire to please others to our detriment is an unhealthy coping mechanism that is rooted in fear. Here’s some information about people-pleasing and how to start becoming your authentic self.
What is People Pleasing?
According to Dr. Susan Newman, people pleasers have a strong desire to make everyone around them happy and to perform whatever actions are necessary to maintain that reality. People-pleasing is rooted in perfectionism and a fear of being unloved. People pleasers tend to overanalyze everyday conversations, their appearance, phone calls, or social media accounts to cultivate an image that they “have it all together.”
For people-pleasers, saying yes is the defacto answer to every question. It is almost impossible to say no to others even if what’s being requested is an infringement on one’s time and livelihood. The reward comes from the regular validation received from outside people. “You’re such a good friend,” “You make the house look so nice,” “I can always count on you because you never say no.”
Because people-pleasers rarely validate themselves, the act of people-pleasing becomes an addiction. To have any sort of self-esteem whatsoever, they need to continue pleasing others to receive that validation.
Because people-pleasers tend to put themselves last, they become resentful, angry, and frustrated that others take advantage of them. Instead of recognizing that their people-pleasing is the problem, they continue to try and make others happy to build up their self-esteem. Unfortunately, they become worn out, exhausted, frustrated, depressed, anxious, and fearful over time.
10 Signs You are a People Pleaser
Here are the ten signs that demonstrate whether or not you are a people pleaser:
· You say yes to parties when you don’t want to attend.
· You say sorry for every little thing.
· You feel anxious and upset when other people are mad at you.
· You laugh when everyone else laughs even if you don’t think it’s funny.
· You offer to help a friend even if it’s out of your way.
· You pretend to be interested in a subject even if you are bored with it.
· You break your morals for others and feel guilty about it later.
· You feel responsible for other people’s feelings.
· You don’t have your viewpoints.
· You can’t say no to anyone.
How to Stop People Pleasing
Here are tips to stop people-pleasing:
1. Instead of saying yes immediately, tell others that you will get back to them later. Think about whether or not you want to do something before you say yes.
2. Start saying no to people you trust first. Say no to family members and others who you know will love you anyway. This will break the ice before you move on to say no to others.
3. Start working on your self-esteem. See a therapist and get to the root of your people-pleasing ways. This will help you see that it’s worth standing up for yourself and you have nothing to prove to anyone.
4. Rid yourself of toxic people. Stop hanging out with people who try to guilt-trip you into doing things you don’t want to do. Start creating boundaries with toxic family members who constantly put you down or try to control you.
5. Sit with the anxiety of not being a people pleaser. At first, all of these actions will feel very uncomfortable and unfamiliar. You are going to overanalyze everything and worry about what others think. Remember that what others think about you is none of your business. All of these uncomfortable feelings will pass.
6. Stop apologizing when you didn’t do anything wrong. Saying “I’m sorry” for things that you aren’t sorry for cheapens the meaning of an apology. Only apologize when you truly did something wrong-not when you made a silly mistake or if you aren’t sorry.
7. Listen to your inner voice and what it says. For a long time, you’ve probably ignored what that voice has been telling you to do. Once you start listening and acknowledging that voice, you will notice your anxiety starts to lift.
Do you struggle with people-pleasing and low self-esteem? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors will be happy to speak with you.