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Where do I even begin? As a recovering people pleaser myself, I thought it’d be best to enlighten you all about the dangers of people-pleasing and address some of the reasons as to why people-pleasing is hurting you more than you know.
Now let’s uncover the term people pleaser. At first glance, it might sound like a person who is a pushover but actually, the meaning tells a different story.
What is a People Pleaser?
Psychology Today states that a people pleaser is one of the nicest, most helpful people you will ever meet. They never say no and can always be counted on to do you a favor. They also spend a lot of time doing things for other people and are always there for family and friends.
Although this definition sounds like a piece of cake, we are going to break it down real nice and easy about why this term can be destructive.
But first, the positives.
Are There Any Positives to Being a People Pleaser?
Well, let’s see.
You’re nice, helpful, kind and you put others before yourself. You can also be seen avoiding conflict with others, following the in-crowd, agreeing with people, being the “yes” man, and keeping the peace by taking on more responsibilities.
And while you’re busy keeping the peace on the outside, you might not even notice the raging war bottling up on the inside. The coping mechanisms deeply rooted around the pressures, guilt, and fear of what others might say, think or do, are keeping you from seeing the actual problem brewing inside.
When you realize that those positive actions are no longer serving you, but actually tearing your self-care down, its time to figure out how to shift the balance on its head and react differently. To begin the shift, you must first understand the dangers that surround the act of people-pleasing.
*I am not a doctor, life coach, or healthcare professional. My blog posts are just my opinions and the results of things that either worked for me or didn’t. I am just passionate about sharing my experiences and providing tips on self-care and personal development.
The Dangers of People Pleasing
People pleasers are great chameleons because they like to blend in with the crowd, they agree with other people’s opinions, they do what other people tell them to do, and they are very easy to get along with because they are so nice.
So do nice people actually finish last in the game of people-pleasing?
Well, before you answer that, let me share some of the dangers of people-pleasing to give you a fair assessment.
Putting other’s needs before yourself. Now, this. This right here, is how you lose yourself. This is when you are too busy or exhausted taking care of everyone and their mama but don’t have any time at all for you to just sit back and re-charge. It’s especially the worst when you try to help everyone and get no appreciation in return.
Instead, you forget about your own personal needs and lose the notion of how important that is too. When you start replacing others’ needs as if they are your actual needs, then who are you really as a human being? Are you just surviving at this point or are you truly living? How are you feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally?
Taking your kindness for weakness. This is the easiest way for people to take advantage of your niceness. When you give, give, give and you get nothing back in return, it feels like a lose-win game where you always lose. Being someone’s “yes” man is also no better either. There comes a point where you cannot agree with everything others tell you or asks you to do for them. If you want more tips on how to say no effectively, check out my last blog post here.
Psychology Today states that we (humans) actually teach people how to treat us by the behavior we accept or reject from them. This makes it easier for people-pleasers to be easily manipulated because they are willing to accept what is being asked of them even if when they disagree or don’t want to do it at all. If you’re letting anyone and their mama continuously take advantage of your energy, time, and space, just know that it is happening because you’re allowing it to continue.
Avoiding conflict to keep the peace. This results in bottling things up until they overflow at an inappropriate time. Being passive-aggressive is also a good representation of this and can also involve non-verbal cues, ignoring people sometimes, and the silent treatment. Sadly with some of these actions, the only person you’re hurting is yourself. You are holding onto feelings of resentment and anger towards others instead of addressing the conflict full-on in some capacity.
Increase of stress and depression. When you have a hundred and a million things to do for other people and you neglect to take of yourself while doing those things, this can definitely invite an increase in stress and depressive thoughts. Take it from me, I should know. Working in a toxic and stressful job where all you’re trying to do is keep the peace, and staying long hours to finish the job with little to no appreciation causes a lot of stress.
Sometimes, I would just keep telling myself that it would all payout for the better in the end and it never did. Luckily for me, I got out of that situation as quickly as I could to improve my mental health and feel some relief again.
Feelings of pressure, guilt, and fear. For years, I have always felt like my sense of belonging as a child was connected to doing exactly what my pastor (aka dad) wanted me to do. It fooled me into thinking that by doing these things, I could avoid feelings of guilt, pressure, and fears of rejection.
This was a terrible place to be and feel mentally as a child because I was always scared on the days that I would miss church and was always wary of what the repercussions would be for missing service. As a pastor’s kid, going to church was always something our family did together (all of the time), whether some of us wanted to go or not. And as a child, pleasing my dad by going to church definitely affected my self-esteem and how I viewed the world back then.
Because it was never my choice as a young person, I realized pleasing him was out of fear of being shunned by “the church”, guilty feelings of disappointing others, and caring too much about what others thought. And as a result, I always put the needs of others first before mine and forgot what my own needs were. Now, I carefully realize where those triggers stem from and I refuse to let them control me. Additionally, I also realize that my own needs, opinions, self-worth, and desires matter too.
How to Stop People Pleasing
Say no to things you don’t want to do. Simple as that. All of the energy you’ve been using to please others, shift that balance back to yourself, and start taking care of and saying yes to you.
Communicative effectively. This is definitely the key to dismantling the act of people-pleasing. It all begins with you and how you allow others to treat you. So no more avoiding eye-contact in uneasy conversations, no more agreeing with others all the time and being passive-aggressive with responses. Say exactly what you mean when you say it. #ISaidWhatISaid is forever the motto.
Don’t be afraid of confrontation. You have every right to stand up for yourself, especially if you are being treated unfairly or even if you have an opinion about something. If you’re like me and hate confrontation within the moment, find another way to communicate and express your emotions differently.
You can do this by texting, calling for a meeting, typing a professional/conversational email, or even talking to the person another time once your head is clear and you can find the right words to address the issue. If you feel like it’s too late to address something in a professional or calm manner, it is not! You are definitely allowed to wait things out or stall before responding effectively.
As a lead into an outdated confrontation, you can start off with something like hey how are you? Can we talk real quick about something or you can even write a letter expressing your thoughts and hand it to them; explaining somewhere in the letter that you don’t deal well with confrontation and doing this helps you get your feelings out effectively. At the end of the letter, you can tell the person that you’re here if they want to talk about it later.
What are some other ways of effectively addressing confrontation without getting hostile?
Please know this, it is not your job to fix anyone! You are definitely not the only one in the world that can do that particular thing that they always ask you to do continuously. If you keep trying to do it all, you will tire and exhaust yourself out.
Set boundaries on what you will do and what you won’t do. Do not take on more than you can chew. If you feel like you are giving too much and all people are doing is taking, taking and not giving back, just stop. Reevaluate your situation and figure out what decision you can do without. Implement that decision and stick with it. Do not waver or go back on it.
Granted, there will be people that will hate you or be disappointed with your decision, but it’s important to know that you matter first. Your mental state matters first. Your emotional health matters first. And your overall well-being matters first, or else you will be no good or useful to anyone. So screw ‘um!
What other dangers of people-pleasing can you think of?
Let me know down in the comments below.