Have you ever wondered if you are a people pleaser?
If so, you may have questioned how you might ‘fix’ yourself so others will be happy. Do you concern yourself more with the happiness of other people than you do your own? People pleasers often fear doing things that are easy for others, like setting boundaries or making a decision about dinner. In severe cases, they can struggle to even talk about themselves. People pleasers are in a constant state of anxiety about what other people are thinking about them. They spend inordinate amounts of time taking care of other people, forgetting their own needs in the process. Sadly, most people who engage in people pleasing don’t recognize what they are doing. People pleasers see themselves as inherently bad, and fear that caretaking is the only way to avoid abandonment. They assume that if they set boundaries then everyone will leave them, or even that they will have no purpose in life. The fact is, only unhealthy people leave relationships when someone stops people pleasing. Further, those relationships are very unhealthy. Healthy people respect boundaries and enjoy relationships with people who have them. Too often, the very relationships people pleasers attract, are with people who are abusive. This can end up reinforcing the idea that the people pleaser is ’unlovable’ or ‘bad.’
I think I might be a people pleaser, now what?
If you fear you may be a people pleaser, the following is a list of a few ideas that might help you to overcome this habit. Although this list is meant to be helpful, it is not a substitute for personal therapy. People pleasing happens as a result of some deep rooted pain, as well as many wrong messages one received while growing up. It is difficult (if not impossible) to stop people pleasing without individual therapy. However, this list may help you start the process of shedding your people pleasing ways, and begin taking care of yourself.
How do I stop?
- List your priorities – This will help you slow down and make decisions based on your personal goals instead of what other people want from you.
- Draw out your circle of friendship – This exercise helps you to prioritize your relationships. Not everyone in your life can be your top priority. People pleasers can sometimes neglect healthy relationships. This exercise can help you cut out toxic people so you don’t waste important emotional energy trying to please people who will never be able to have a mutual relationship.
- Cut people off – I know this sounds harsh to a people pleaser, but it is an important step. New evidence suggests that we cannot have priorities, we can only prioritize. It is important to know who we should invest our limited time in, and who is a drain on our mental health.
- Stop all excuses – Although painful, it is important not to explain your decisions to others unless absolutely necessary. This gives the message to them (and more importantly, to yourself) that your life is your own. There are complex reasons why you are making the decisions you are making and unless people have walked in your shoes their entire life (which is impossible) they probably won’t always understand them. Also, only intrusive people insist on knowing your reasons for everything you do.
- Love yourself first – Just like in the airplane, if you don’t put on your own oxygen mask first, you will not be able to help the person next to you. You can only help other people from your reserves of energy, not from your emptiness.
People pleasers often have very few boundaries and let people walk all over them. It is important to have mutual relationships. If you find yourself always reaching out you may be in a one sided relationship. A relationship is a dance, and no one can dance without their partner putting in their side of the effort.
Do you live the Hanford or Visalia California area? Call me to set up a therapy appointment today!
Reno NV Therapist / California Teletherapy