People pleasing is a serious problem.
It often starts in early childhood and is one of the worst forms of self-sabotage out there.
People-pleasing goes beyond wanting others to be happy and to do a good job:
It ends up being that you hinge your own well-being on how others respond to you and approve of you, creating an endless cycle of approval-seeking.
Here’s how to spot people-pleasing behaviors in yourself and cut these behaviors out of your life.
1) You find it very hard to disagree with anyone
First up is that you find it almost impossible to openly disagree with someone.
Even those who say offensive or untrue things, you wait for somebody else to call it out.
You just avoid engaging at all and may even smile and nod if somebody looks toward you after saying something absurd or upsetting.
This ties into the next point…
2) You say yes to almost every request no matter how onerous
As a people pleaser you like to, well, please people!
That sounds not too bad on the surface but the problem is that you tend to say yes in almost every case.
Even when the request is very onerous and difficult or exploiting you, you show up and shrug off the cost.
A friend wants to avoid paying movers and have you over every evening for a week hauling stuff from her old place to the new apartment?
You show up and do it without complaint, experiencing weeks of back pain afterwards and financial issues due to missing out on many hours of work you had been doing at night.
But at least your friend is happy, right?
3) You find it extremely hard to express your needs or desires
When it comes to what you want and need, your lips are sealed.
Even choosing a flavor of ice cream when you’re out with friends or family is a struggle.
What flavor do other people like most?
Do they think that you potentially choosing blue bubblegum flavor would be good?
You actually love tiger tiger, but you know that your dad finds it disgusting. Do you dare ask for it? Better to stick with vanilla or something normal!
4) You will do almost anything to avoid conflict or tension with someone
Conflict and tension with others drive you nuts!
Even imagining that somebody is upset with you elevates your cortisol to the skies.
You have high anxiety even thinking that you’ve miffed somebody by accident.
Did you say the wrong thing? Do the wrong thing?
You get itchy and sweaty even thinking about it.
This is definitely a self-sabotaging instinct, because tension and conflict are unfortunately part of life, especially if somebody is pushing you around.
You have a right and duty to defend yourself!
5) You copy people around you and seek their approval and recognition
People pleasers find it very hard to stand out in a crowd.
We all want to belong: it’s hardwired into our evolutionary biology.
But if you find that you consciously copy other people and try to be like them in order to be accepted and welcomed, then you’re leaning in the direction of being a people pleaser.
This is definitely a behavior to become aware of and begin shifting.
When your actions are centered around gaining the recognition and approval of others, you put yourself at the mercy of forces outside your control and devalue yourself.
You deserve better!
6) You apologize all the time when it’s unnecessary
People pleasers are professional apologizers.
They practically say sorry for breathing.
They say sorry for speaking too fast or speaking too slow. They say sorry for saying sorry too much.
They apologize for things out of their control and completely lower other people’s perceptions of them by doing so.
If this is you, it’s time to make changes.
7) You feel scared and unworthy if others aren’t happy
An unfortunate fact of life is that people are going to get unhappy, angry, and frustrated quite often in ways that you don’t have control of.
If you’re a people pleaser, you find yourself dreading this.
Even a stranger in a bad mood or a dirty look from a coworker has you wondering what you did wrong.
It’s hard for you to truly internalize that their mood and issues genuinely have nothing to do with you and you aren’t responsible for lifting them up, either.
8) You find it almost impossible to criticize people even when they deserve it or it’s constructive criticism
There are times when agreeing with others and pleasing them actually hurts them.
- Enabling addictions and destructive behavior
- Letting somebody believe in unrealistic plans for their career
- Allowing someone to believe that work they have produced is high quality when it’s actually terrible or needs a lot of improvement
- Refusing to disagree when someone is pursuing dangerous or illegal activities
But as a people pleaser, you likely find it very hard to criticize somebody even when it would help them and would be completely true.
9) You take the blame even when you’re not guilty of anything
It’s the opposite when it comes to you:
Even when you’re not to blame, you take the burden for what goes wrong.
If people are pointing the finger at you, you figure that maybe you did do something off…
Plus, even if you didn’t, it helps folks to have a scapegoat, right, so why argue?
This inferiority complex and allowing yourself to be bullied is one of the saddest aspects of being a people pleaser and why it’s important to stop.
10) You start to feel lacking if you don’t get positive feedback a lot
We all love positive feedback and crave it sometimes.
But if you’re a people pleaser it’s more than just enjoying it or wanting it.
You need that positive feedback and approval.
Without it you feel like you’re not good enough or like a fraud of some kind.
You don’t have confidence in your own value or work, and you want other people to tell you it’s good (repeatedly).
When this extends into personal relationships and friendships it becomes even more problematic, as you may keep checking that you’re truly wanted and valued to the point that it becomes pointedly needy and clingy.
11) When you displease somebody it keeps you up at night with anxiety
Perhaps the worst aspect of being a people pleaser is how upset you get when you feel you’ve made somebody upset.
Being unable to attend an event or saying a joke that you worry crossed a line can keep you up nights on end.
For most of us we think of such things a bit and maybe ask somebody if it did upset them, but we don’t torture ourselves.
As a people pleaser, it can feel like your whole world is coming apart when you think you’ve upset somebody or let them down.
12) You give in to enough pressure from someone even when it’s against your will
Peer pressure is a real thing, and it doesn’t always end in high school.
In fact, it continues throughout our lives.
If you’re a people pleaser you’ll notice that it’s very hard to stick to saying no even when you know you don’t agree with what somebody wants you to do.
It’s important to find that boundary of yours and enforce it…
Keep in mind:
Trying too hard to make everyone happy is a form of self-abandonment.
What’s worse is that it’s not possible to form authentic and deep relationships if your main priority is to please somebody.
A little bit of conflict and tension is inevitable in life. Embrace it and begin standing up for yourself.
You have every bit as much right to be here and live your life well and express your needs as anyone else.