The first rule about People Pleasers’ Club … don’t talk about People Pleasers’ Club.
Just kidding. That’s exactly what we are doing right now!
The first and only rule should really be Get Out!
This isn’t a club anybody should be a part of.
As a premium member of the club ( she admits very shamefully) I can sincerely tell you one thing :
Your mission is futile.
It may sound cliché but something we all need to come to terms with is we will never be able to make everybody happy.
“Yes-man” may sound like a superhero name but that is purely because it would really take superhuman ability to be able to satisfy everyone. The only thing it really leaves us with is feeling stretched thin and exhausted.
“That sounds awful!”
It really does. So let’s check if you are part of this club too.
Here is what a typical member looks like:
Shapeless blobs, afraid to express their own opinions at the risk of offending someone! It is often difficult to draw the line between being nice and morphing into one of the zombies you see above.
Some characteristics of being a people pleasers:
“I can’t stop saying YES”
People pleasers are notoriously bad at saying “no” when asked for a favour, even if they really want to. Weighed down by the insatiable need to be liked by all, they are incapable of turning down any request.
“Please don’t fight.”
At any sight of confrontation, you will find a people pleaser walking in the opposite direction. They are exceptionally bad at expressing different opinions and become increasingly uncomfortable even when other people have disagreements.
“You can put the blame on me”
In a failed attempt to avoid fights or uncomfortable conversations, a people pleaser will resign to apologizing even when they are not at fault.
“I’m so nice to her. Why does she treat me like that ?”
People pleasers often modify their behaviour to get other people to like them. They go out of their way to help others and when those sacrifices are not acknowledged or met with the appreciation they become frustrated.
It is probably apparent now that the underlying want beneath each of these phrases is the need for people to like you. It’s a different kind of addiction. But like with any drug, when we don’t get that appreciation, a people pleaser goes into desperate withdrawal.
Let me make it clear. You will never satisfy that need, because there will always be somebody who just doesn’t like you.
People pleasing is a drug and like any drug it has side effects.
How does being a people pleaser affect your mental health?
As discussed earlier, being a people pleaser comes from a deep-rooted need to gain everybody’s approval. When this need is not met with and it most definitely won’t be, it can have a serious negative effect on the person in question. Most commonly, it has a very negative impact on mental health. It can lead to subtler if not more apparent symptoms of the following mental issues:
• Anxiety. A people pleaser places themselves under the constant stress of having to satisfy everybody. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and paranoia. It also results in the people pleaser overthinking every word and action towards them from another person, convincing themselves that they are disliked. A people pleaser will never be able to accept that a person actually likes them or appreciates them.
• Depression. As aforementioned, a people pleaser is constantly plagued with the feeling that they are not doing enough to make people like them. These negative thoughts continue to build up till they are no longer under their control. It is at this stage that a people pleaser may experience symptoms of depression even if the circumstances do not warrant it.
• Mental Exhaustion. The constant action of giving without receiving can leave a people pleaser feeling absolutely drained or emotional and mental energy. This can lead to outbursts or mental breakdowns. In order to successfully contribute to any relationship, a person needs the emotional resources to energize themselves first. When consumed by the desire to make everyone like them, a people pleaser often puts the needs of the other before their own. This can lead to mental exhaustion.
• Low Self-Esteem. Being a people pleasers can result in people taking advantage of these tendencies. When we neglect to set healthy boundaries, we can end up letting people trample all over us. This further reduces our levels of self-esteem.
So, why does this club even exist?
Common causes of people-pleasing behaviour are
1. Previous Trauma. Experiences of abusive relationships can lead an individual to say or do whatever necessary to avoid confrontation. In this case, a person undertakes that path which leads to people liking them so that they can keep themselves safe. This is because they have experienced other situations in which disagreeing with someone or not meeting up to their expectations has resulted in abuse.
2. Poor Self-Image. When one lacks a certain level of self-worth, it leads them to look for external validation and approval. In this way a person may conform their identity to fit that which is most accepted by society and their peers. A person with low self-esteem also values other people’s needs before their own. This can lead to stretching themselves thin in order to help other people.
3. Childhood Experience. The classic Indian method of corporal punishment for bad behaviour and rewards for good behaviour can teach a child that it is more rewarding for people to like you or your behaviour. This can create individuals who modify their behaviour according to other people’s expectations.
How to stop being people pleasers?
If you made it this far in the article, I assume that l, even if not premium, you’re a member just like me. So, how do we break this vicious cycle and leave this club once and for all?
1. Mindfulness. Once we recognize how much of our actions are driven by sincerity and how many are actually taken with the intention of getting people to like us we can start rectifying our behaviour. So, the first step as always in getting rid of the problem is accepting that it exists.
2. Learn to like yourself. Spend more time alone introspecting your personality and try to list down even one or two things that you like about yourself. Once you begin this exercise, you will start to create a healthy relationship with yourself and build your self-worth from the inside out. It will remove your constant need for others to like you when you like yourself.If there are things you don’t like about yourself, you can also begin the conscious effort to change.
3. Do what you want, not what is expected. When you do things because you want to and not in order to gain approval, you will find yourself satisfied even when you are not acknowledged for the given action. This includes being genuinely kind instead of doing kind things with the intention of getting appreciation in return.
4. Consult a therapist. Some issues of low self-worth can be extremely difficult to deal with alone, and in many cases, we may need professional help. A mental health professional is better trained to identify people-pleasing behaviour and help us to work through it.
With that, I conclude this meeting of the people pleaser’s club.
Hope I never find you here again.
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