It was out of your mouth before you could even think about it, but now that you’ve had a second to consider what just unfolded, you realize it wasn’t your fault. You were walking through the mall, and the other person ran right into you because they were too busy looking at their phone. Yet, you apologized, and they kept on walking without uttering a word.
Does that mean that you are a people pleaser? Well, it might.
There’s more to it, of course. It isn’t just about immediately saying sorry to someone, even if it’s not your fault. What people-pleasing is, is a difficulty in establishing your boundaries. It’s something that everyone struggles with at some point, but people-pleasers find it downright exhausting.
Often, the act is motivated for a desire for approval or validation. They are insecure in relationships, in their job, and that makes them more likely to conform to the expectations of others. You might not want to bend to the opinions of others. You find it too hard to say no. It’s common for people-pleasers to accept blame, even when it’s not their fault. Even if it means protecting someone who hurt them, it can adversely affect people who have mental health issues and those who don’t.
Working hard to please others might help you nourish everyone else. It doesn’t, however, allow you to nourish yourself.
Your emotional life is just as important as your physical self. When you focus on everyone else without turning the attention to you, you’re suffocating yourself.
The Dangers Of People Pleasing
You probably think that you look helpful, you appear generous, that’s the mark of a people pleaser. However, there’s a big difference between these things. Genuine generosity comes from real happiness, from enjoying the happiness of others. That isn’t what people-pleasing is. People-pleasing is down to the desire to gain the approval of others. It’s from a place of low self-worth.
People-pleasing makes you subservient to others. It’s a desire to gain approval. That, for many, can be debilitating. It can be difficult to be independent and take a stand for themselves or their beliefs. They are too insecure to do so, and this comes from basing their self-worth on the opinions of others. There are many issues that this can stem from – including abusive relationships, childhood trauma, or other toxic/traumatic events.
It’s Okay To Put Yourself First
Women commonly fall into the trap of people-pleasing. They feel under pressure to behave a certain way because it’s how they’ve been socialized from birth. It’s dangerous. There have been a number of studies on how this type of behavior negatively impacts health. One study found that people will eat more if they feel like it’s pleasing to others, even if they’re full or don’t want to eat (https://guilfordjournals.com/doi/abs/10.1521/jscp.2012.31.2.169). While another study found that there was a link between obesity and people-pleasing due to negative coping skills (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1038/oby.2009.376).
There are a number of other ways people-pleasing impacts your wellness, from failing to recharge your batteries and rest when you need to or falling into unhealthy relationships. It affects your ability to thrive.
It’s vital that you know what you are responsible for and what you’re not responsible for. It’s up to you to set your boundaries and assert them. It’s all about protecting yourself. It’s not your responsibility to shoulder the expectations, judgment, or duties of others. It’s bad for you, and it’s bad for others.
Do you suspect that you’re a people-pleaser? Start practicing telling people no.