People Pleasing

We all go through moments in life where we try to make someone else happy. Whether it be towards a spouse, an in-law, or a colleague, everyone has done more than their fair share of “people pleasing” in their life. Sometimes this can be an acceptable practice, like conceding to something for the benefit of the people you love and care about, but if you persistently find yourself bolstering the well-being of others at the expense of your own, you may find that your own life-satisfaction is starting to falter.

The Downside of People Pleasing

People pleasing becomes a burden when you start to take on more responsibility than you can handle simply because you cannot say “no” to others. This is common in an office environment, for instance. There is always one person in the office that is so good at what they do and nearly always says “yes” when asked to do something – just because they can share their energy and internal resources without sabotaging themselves. However, for the person who is constantly asked to take on more and more tasks simply because they have a reputation of a natural people pleaser, it can become quite taxing. In such a role, you may start to feel overwhelmed, overworked, frustrated and underappreciated.

At home, you may suppress your feelings to keep your spouse and family happy.. Over time, this causes tension in the relationship and the only person left displeased is you.

The Root of People Pleasing

If you are responding to the needs of others you likely get some satisfaction and joy out playing your part in normal social interactions.  But people-pleasers often find themselves setting aside their wants and needs in a desperate search for outside approval and validation.

It’s important to take a step back and ask yourself why you are so eager to please everyone. Is it because you feel obligated? Or because you know you can accomplish the task efficiently and with ease? Or is it because you want people to like you and so you try to please everyone who crosses your path?

People pleasing extends beyond the work environment. Everyone knows the person who always offers to host the party or always offers to take everybody’s kids out on a playdate. In all avenues of life there is always someone who goes over and above their call of duty to the point of overextending themselves. People-pleasers often lose sight of what’s important and meaningful in life. They could experience a disquieting sense of having lost control over their own lives, which may lead to feelings of anger, resentment or passive-aggressive behavior.

As many deeply rooted problematic beliefs and behaviors, people-pleasing usually starts in childhood. When kids are told what to do, instead of being encouraged to assert themselves, and when they obey the demands of their parents they receive conditional love. The internalized message dictates that the only way to feel valued and approved of is to comply with others’ demands.

To break the cycle in the adult life, people-pleasers need to sharpen their awareness of their own needs and respect them more. There is a need to explore the source of the powerful fears underlying the need to please. Learn boundaries in relationships and practice kindness towards themselves.