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Understanding People Pleasing

What is a people pleaser?

A people pleaser is someone who cares deeply about making others happy, easing their suffering, and pleasing them. It is also someone who greatly values being a ‘good’ person and being ‘helpful’ and likes others to see them this way too.

At one time or another, we have all gone out of our own way to help another person, but people-pleasing goes far beyond this.

If you’re a people pleaser you give up a lot of time and energy to make others happy or get people to like you. We all have some need to please other people whether that’s at home, at work, with friends or even in public, but people pleasing can become a problem when it starts to affect certain aspects of life, leading to unhappiness, stress, and exhaustion.

Signs you might be a People-Pleaser

When it comes to showing signs of people-pleasing, there are a number of characteristics to look for:
* You like others to be happy
* You have difficulty saying no
* You regularly feel guilty despite having done nothing wrong
* You’re always telling people you’re sorry or apologising
* You take the blame despite knowing something wasn’t your fault – “it was probably me…”
* You pay for more than your share of things, or overcompensate with gift buying
* You let others make choices so it’s what they like/are happy with
* You overcompensate and go beyond what’s needed to please others
* No matter what you do, you still don’t feel it’s enough
* You avoid confrontation or being assertive for fear of upsetting them
* You don’t like to disappoint people

People-pleasers as helpers

A lot of people pleasers are drawn towards helping roles in their lives. It’s common for people pleasers to work as teachers, carers, counsellors, or nurses. The helping role is also very evident through their relationships with friends and family.

Signs you might be a Helper

* You don’t like to see others suffer
* You won’t ask for help when you need it
* You volunteer to help before even being asked
* You feel guilty for not helping when you could have
* You find it difficult to say no when others ask you for help
* You do more for others than they do for you
* You feel responsible for how others feel
* You spend your money and time on others needs

How does people pleasing develop?

People pleasing is commonly misunderstood as a desire to be popular and liked, but this isn’t it at all. It is much more about wanting others to be happy.

There are a number of ways that people pleasing can develop. For some they have been raised by people pleasers so have been taught that this is the ‘right’ way to be. For others they have been raised in difficult circumstances and their own understanding of unhappiness and suffering leads to them wanting to protect others from it. For others their life has taught them an unhelpful message that their value is only in what they do for others, and that without this they have nothing to offer.

Examples of people pleasing

People-pleasing becomes harmful when you neglect yourself and the feelings you have in order to make someone else happy.

There are many examples of this, but here are some of them I regularly hear about from clients:
* When someone asks you for help, you always say yes unless it’s absolutely impossible to help them, this could mean you cancel your own plans (but don’t tell them you’ve done this), sacrifice much needed rest time, or end up exhausted
* You find yourself saying sorry a lot, and regularly hear friends and family saying ‘don’t be silly, you’ve got nothing to be sorry for’, you might even say sorry for saying sorry
* You have friends/family that treat you poorly or take advantage, but because you understand their problems and empathise, feel unable to pull away from them and instead tolerate one-sided relationships
* You watch the films, eat the food, go to the places that others like as you don’t want them to have to do something they won’t enjoy
* You spend lots of time finding the perfect gifts for friends and family, spend a disproportionate amount on them, generally overdo it and won’t ask for money that is owed to you
* You make sure others get time to do the things they need for their wellbeing, but as a result don’t get any time to do the things you need

 Effects of Being a People-Pleaser

 It is of course important to be caring and compassionate. It’s important to consider other’s needs and feelings. But it becomes a problem if you are trying to pursue the happiness of others at the expense of your emotional well-being.

For the people on the receiving end of your people-pleasing it can be great, they get their needs met and more. Some of those in your life might give you lots of praise and thanks for all that you do, whilst others might just expect it and not acknowledge it at all. This can feed into two issues – 1. feeling like your identity, value to others and how much you are liked is directly linked with your people pleasing; 2. Feeling resentful for doing all you do, making sacrifices, and getting no appreciation.

Overcoming people-pleasing

At Hannah Paskin Therapy, I believe that recognising the issue is the first step in being able to overcome people-pleasing. Noticing the unhelpful messages we tell ourselves, the people pleasing behaviours we do, and how this all leads to us feeling is crucial.

Therapy is effective in helping you to overcome people-pleasing. I will work with you to recognise the changes that are needed, managing the emotions when doing this, and sustaining those changes over time, despite the resistance and backlash that may come from people in your life, work colleagues or even yourself.

Book your free consultation call to discuss how I can help you to move forwards to a happier future. Book Now

Found this blog useful? Take a look at: A recovering People-Pleaser – A Therapist’s Story

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