Do you struggle with being a people pleaser?
People-pleasing involves behaving and speaking to accommodate the emotional needs of others, typically to the detriment of your own needs. A people-pleaser is a type of person who constantly goes above and beyond to make other people feel good. This kind of person is usually putting their own needs aside to cater for other’s needs. They will also put themselves in harm’s way for others who may or may not reciprocate.
Research shows that people-pleasing is a trauma response that is not fight, flight, or freeze, rather, it’s about appeasing others to avoid conflict. This is known as fawning. It includes over-apologizing, being hyper-aware of what others think and having an inability to set boundaries.
According to trauma experts, fawning is most common in victims of relational abuse, referring to environments where parents, siblings or loved ones were emotionally controlling, abusive or neglectful. To create a safer environment, we learned to please the people closest to us. Therefore, people-pleasing can be seen as an adaptive coping mechanism that helps us deal with situations our well-being or even survival depends on.
However, even now as adults many of us still unconsciously engage in this behavioral pattern, when we don’t really need to. People-pleasing has become our second nature, and, whether we realize it or not, it is negatively affecting our lives.
Some common behavioral and psychological habits of people pleasers include:
- Saying “yes” when they want to say “no”
- Apologizing for things they’re not responsible for
- Suppressing anger, sadness, or other “negative” emotions
- Not expressing their genuine thoughts
- Being constantly concerned about what others think of them
- Trying to help others, even if those don’t ask for help
- Feeling hurt when someone criticizes something they said or did
- You need constant approval
- Wanting to appear perfect
- Doing favors for others, although they don’t want to
How can we overcome people pleasing?
- Establishing healthy boundaries
- Practice saying “no”
- Schedule time for yourself
- Work on your inner self
- Talk to a therapist
By: Bethwel Kiptum
Chiromo Hospital Group