Are you often going out of your way to do things for other people even if it means neglecting your own needs and wishes? If yes, then you might be what’s known as a people pleaser!
Many people misunderstand the concept of people-pleasing behavior, thinking that constantly being nice to people, trying to help them (including going out of their way to do so) and changing yourself for the sake of meeting their needs are desirable and are characteristic of a genuinely nice person.
And yes, they certainly are! But there’s a thin line between being nice or kind and being a people pleaser. To understand it better, we’ll try to define these two terms.
So, being nice or kind would mean helping others, sympathizing and having a strong desire to improve other people’s lives in all aspects but to a certain extent!
And being a people pleaser is basically the same if we exclude the last part of the sentence—‘but to a certain extent’.
Just like nice people, people pleasers have a strong desire to help others, to meet their needs and to make others happy but their desire to do so goes beyond that.
They don’t do it only to a certain extent but instead they go out of their way when it comes to making other people content and happy.
They have a hard time saying no to strangers, co-workers, their friends, family and loved ones, even if it means entering a self-destructive zone and doing something against their principles or what they normally wouldn’t do.
Being a people pleaser means caring a lot about other people’s opinions to the extent of neglecting their own needs and wishes, which is in close connection with a lack of self-love, self-worth, fear of rejection and low self-esteem.
Constantly seeking the approval of others is a bad habit and it can turn you into a doormat without a personality.
This desire to be approved by others can backfire, making you feel alienated, lonely and disconnected from your true self.
And worst of all, it gives other people a green light to take advantage of you and use you as their doormat.
People-pleasing behavior can affect your mental health and well-being in general, so discovering it early on and learning the art of setting boundaries when it comes to pleasing people is of the utmost importance!
8 SIGNS YOU’RE A PEOPLE PLEASER
If you suspect but you’re still not sure whether you belong to the crew of people pleasers, here is a list of signs that will help you detect it in time!
1. You feel unworthy
People pleasers generally have a low opinion of themselves and that’s why they feel unworthy of love and attention from others.
They are convinced that the only way to deserve love and attention from other people is through the concept of giving.
This means going out of their way to do things for them, being available 24/7, showering others with tons of affection without expecting anything in return and similar.
Because they feel unworthy, they have this urge to do anything in order to win other people’s attention and seek affection and love from them.
Doing all that makes them feel good about themselves and it fills them with a dose of love that they fight so hard to achieve.
2. You have difficulty saying no to others
Helping other people and taking care of them is a nice thing to do.
I remember whenever someone asked me to help them with a certain course during college, I would always agree to do so without much thinking.
But when someone asked me things like helping them cheat during an exam, I would politely say, “No,” to them because by doing that, I would risk my own ass getting caught.
And that’s the difference between being kind to others and being a people pleaser.
So, you know that you’re being a people pleaser if you have difficulty saying no to others even if they come to you with requests that would damage your own reputation or well-being or impossible requests that are beyond your power.
People pleasers agree to do things that they wouldn’t normally do just because they’re afraid of disappointing them because that would mean not getting their approval.
And by doing that, other people’s needs become more important than their own.
And, most importantly, when people know that they would do anything for them, they start abusing it and turning them into their personal puppets dancing to their tunes.
3. You overly apologize (even when you’re not to blame)
Do you have this tendency to constantly apologize for everything regardless of whether you were the one to blame?
If you do, then you know you’re a people pleaser. You’re ready to take the blame and accept the consequences for every mistake regardless of whether it’s something you’ve done or if it’s been done by others.
For example, you go to Starbucks and you order four different cups of joe for a group of people at work.
Unfortunately, the employee at Starbucks accidentally writes the wrong time on one of the cups, which makes your colleague irritated and blame you for it…
Instead of explaining that it was not your fault because you made the right order and blaming the employee at Starbucks, you just decide to take the blame for it and apologize a million times for being so irresponsible and thoughtless.
You enter overly apologetic mode, without even thinking twice about doing so.
The reason why you’re doing this is because you’re afraid of disappointing them, losing their trust or making them mad and that’s why you decide to go out of your way, take the blame and do whatever it takes to make things right.
Your will to make other people content is stronger than the ability to think rationally about whether you should apologize for something in the first place (especially if you know that you’re not the one to blame for it).
4. You feel indecisive and confused
Given that people pleasers are mainly focused on other people’s needs, wishes, dreams and desires, they unwittingly start ignoring their own.
And that’s how they become confused about what they really want and how they really feel.
The more they ignore their needs and wishes, the more they become disconnected from their true self.
This leads to losing their authenticity and turning into a robot devoid of character and personality.
This also includes suppressing emotions, which is extremely dangerous and can cause severe damage to the person’s mental health.
So, let’s say that person A is in a relationship with person B.
When person B says something insulting or does something really terrible, person A doesn’t say a thing or takes it very lightly because they want to avoid arguing with their partner and they’re more concerned about how the other person will feel.
By doing that, person A is suppressing their emotions and neglecting their need to express themselves and say what they really mean.
Over time, person A starts feeling indecisive and confused because they’re no longer sure what they really want in the relationship and how they should act when something bad happens.
This toxic pattern can damage both their relationship and person A who is acting as a people pleaser.
Denying the fact that someone hurt their feelings turns them into an obedient puppet.
5. You’re overly agreeable
Agreeing with other people’s ideas and thinking is the biggest shortcut when it comes to winning their approval.
So, if you’ve noticed that you easily agree with everything and accept other people’s ideas and proposals without much thinking, then you know you’re a legit people pleaser.
Let’s say that your partner proposed going to the movies on Thursday and despite the fact that you had other plans that day, you still accept it and reschedule your activities.
Or that your co-worker presented new ideas regarding some tasks or projects at work and even though you didn’t really like them, you couldn’t help but give them positive feedback.
By doing all this, you’re willingly going out of your way to make other people happy.
You’re overly agreeable because you think you’ll hurt them if you contradict them or say what you really mean.
But the truth is otherwise; by not saying what you really mean, you’re hurting both yourself and the other person because honesty is the basis of every healthy relationship between two individuals.
6. You’re only focused on giving
You know that you’re a people pleaser if you’re only focused on giving instead of reciprocity—giving and receiving.
So, when someone asks you for help or when they don’t even ask you, you immediately jump to be at their service without ever expecting something in return.
You’re solely focused on giving because you’re more focused on the happiness of other people than your own.
You want them to know that you’ll always be there for them no matter what because by doing that, you feel worthy of their love and attention.
7. You can’t remember the last time you did something for yourself
As already said, there’s a thin line between being kind and being a people pleaser.
And you know that you belong to the second category if you can’t remember the last time you did something for yourself.
Since people pleasers are only focused on giving, they devote their entire life to the people around them.
They selflessly give themselves to everyone, never questioning anything.
And that’s why they don’t have much free time for themselves. Now, think about your daily routine.
After you’re done with your obligations and chores, do you ever do something for yourself just for the sake of doing it and enjoying it?
Or do you spend all your free time doing things for others, dealing with their problems, jumping to their every wish and similar?
If you’re doing the latter, then you know you’re a people pleaser.
8. You fear arguments and conflicts
In the mind of a people pleaser, the worst thing that could happen to them is being involved in an argument or a conflict.
Why? Because arguments and conflicts are the epitomai of negativity and bad relationships between people.
And that’s why every people pleaser will always try to avoid it like the plague by taking the blame for things they didn’t do, apologizing a little bit too much and by literally doing anything that will prevent the other person from feeling anger or a whole spectrum of negative emotions.
Being a people pleaser means being sensitive to other people’s negative emotions because otherwise it means that they’ve failed at getting their approval.
But a worse thing than that is not being who you really are out of fear that you’ll disappoint others.
HOW TO STOP BEING A PEOPLE PLEASER
If all the above signs indicate that you’re a people pleaser, don’t freak out or at least try not to.
I know it’s easier said than done but as with everything in life, there are ways that will help you stop being a people pleaser and help you focus on your own happiness as well.
So, it’s time to stand up for yourself and learn how to stop being a people pleaser because neglecting your own needs and wishes for the sake of others is not the way to go!
1. Practice real kindness
‘Practice real kindness’ probably sounds confusing to most of you but here’s what I really mean by it: When you’re being kind for the purpose of getting other people’s approval and getting them to like you, it’s called fake kindness because there is a motive behind it.
But when you’re being kind to others for no reason, then you know it’s real kindness.
You know you’re doing something good for the sake of doing it and helping the person and not for the sake of getting them to like you or approve of you.
So, before helping others, always ask yourself why you want to help that person.
Is it because you genuinely want to help them or because you expect something in return from them (their affection or approval)?
2. Learn to put yourself first
The reason why many people start neglecting their own needs for the sake of meeting the needs of other people is because they think that putting their own needs first is an act of selfishness. But it’s not.
The truth is that putting your own needs first is necessary and desirable because if you don’t learn how to take care of yourself, you won’t be able to help others either. In order to love others, you need to learn to love yourself first.
When you reach the zone of self-love, you will stop being a people pleaser because you will understand the line between self-love and going out of your way to please others.
3. Develop healthy boundaries
Developing healthy boundaries is the most important step when it comes to overcoming people-pleasing behavior.
Why? Because everything starts with your own thinking and motives.
So, before deciding to offer help to someone, pay attention to the following things:
• How you feel about it – Is the action something you really want to do or is it making you feel anxious for some reason?
If the latter is the case, then you shouldn’t force yourself to do something you feel uncomfortable with.
• Whether this action will force you to sacrifice your own needs – Before accepting to do something, think about your own needs first. When it comes to your own chores, obligations, needs and your free time, you don’t want to set a time limit and sacrifice your own needs to the extent of ruining the quality of your life.
• How doing this action will make you feel – Will you feel genuinely happy about doing something for someone or will you feel miserable or resentful?
4. Wait until someone asks for your help or assistance
There’s nothing wrong with being willing to help others but if you turn into a service that works 24/7 and helps others without even being asked for help, then you know you have a problem.
When you’re a people pleaser, it’s hard to restrain yourself from going out of your way to offer assistance even when you’re not even asked for it, so the best way to deal with this issue is to wait until someone asks for your help or assistance.
Also, keep in mind that sometimes people are not even asking for help but they just need someone to listen to them.
So, instead of immediately looking for solutions for that particular problem, try only listening to them until they themselves ask you for advice or help.
5. Seek professional help
If you feel like this role of being a people pleaser is taking its toll on your life and it’s hard for you to cope with it, you can always seek help from a psychotherapist or any other therapist out there.
They will help you target the core of your people-pleasing behavior, they will give you helpful advice and plenty of coping strategies that shall bear fruit in no time.
Being a people pleaser is not only a matter of being overly helpful and kind to others but it’s much deeper and more complex and it can influence the quality of your life and the lives of your loved ones.
The sooner you start working on it, the sooner you’ll learn how to improve your life and take care of your own happiness as well and not only of other people’s.
“I can’t tell you the key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” – Ed Sheeran