Are you unsure what the term ‘people-pleasing’ really means?
Are you wondering if this even applies to you?
If so, you’re not alone.
Being a people-pleaser myself, I can tell you it took me years to identify this tendency and change some of my ways.
I’ve come a long way, though I’ll forever be a work in progress, and want to share with you what I wish I knew 20 years ago.
So, let’s begin with a brief definition…
People-pleasing is the habitual act of putting others’ needs before your own.
It is an energy-draining pattern where one tends to take on too much in an attempt to avoid disappointing others.
This behaviour is more of a ‘reflex response’ rather than a ‘conscious’ choice.
Learned experiences (reward/punishment) that have been stored in the body act as powerful levers that partially dictate one’s behaviours.
It often is a coping mechanism learned in early life, that has become so ingrained and a way of being, that it’s the default mechanism for how one operates in the world.
So what are some signs that you may be a people-pleaser and how does it differ from being kind?
Signs you may be a people-pleaser:
- You automatically say ‘yes’ before you even realize it.
- You apologize when there’s no reason to do so.
- You’re always going above and beyond and doing more than your share.
- You’re one of the nicest people you know.
- You’re an expert at anticipating others’ needs.
- You can’t stand the thought of others being upset with you.
- You’d rather disappoint yourself than others.
- You’re always swallowing your true feelings and needs.
- You feel resentful and irritable from all the pressure and over-giving.
- You have great difficulty saying ‘no’.
- You feel burdened by all you have to do.
- You rarely feel anger, but when you do you ‘explode’.
- You end up faking an illness to get out of something you couldn’t say ‘no’ to.
- You bash and blame yourself for not being ‘strong enough’ to say ‘no’.
- You push yourself to meet your commitments no matter what.
- You shy away from sharing your opinions and ideas.
- You feel responsible for other’s feelings.
- You avoid conflict and confrontation (almost) at any cost.
- You replay conversations in your head and beat yourself up about how you ‘could have’ responded better.
- When you do have a moment to yourself, you feel guilty and can’t enjoy it.
- And lastly, the hallmark feature of a people-pleaser (in my humble opinion): you feel depleted, spent, and drained of energy (probably) all the time.
It’s important to understand, people-pleasers genuinely care and want to be there for others.
Seeing a look of disappointment on someone’s face, typically elicits a powerful emotional response; one that’s stronger than the need to please oneself.
It’s not simply a matter of knowing where to draw the line (though this helps), it’s finding a way to rewire on a physiological level (more on this in an upcoming article).
The Difference Between People-Pleasing & Kindness:
Be sure to sign up to receive the next article in this series where I’ll be discussing the link between people-pleasing and chronic illness…. and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!