Are you the peacekeeper in your family or among friends? Do you think it’s better to keep quiet than to stir the pot? Would you rather avoid confrontation? People-pleasing is often misconstrued for kindness, but being a people-pleaser could be hurting you more than helping you.
What is a people-pleaser?
When you feel overly concerned with caring about how others feel while disregarding your own emotional needs, you are likely a people-pleaser. According to Merriam Webster, a people-pleaser is “a person who has an emotional need to please others often at the expense of his or her own needs or desires.” People-pleasing looks like putting others’ needs ahead of your own, keeping quiet to avoid conflict or arguing, or being the only one to compromise.
Where does people-pleasing stem from?
People-pleasers often desire approval from others including family members, friends, romantic partners, or coworkers. The fear of rejection or abandonment leads to wanting to make others happy, even at your own expense. This is often the case when people have experienced a loss in their life and want to maintain their existing relationships.
Maybe you modeled this way of being after your parents or caregiver, so you think that’s the expectation in a relationship or friendship. Perhaps you were always the passive one and took on the role of peacekeeper in your family growing up. Or you never had a voice growing up and you have taken that into your adult relationships.
What are the consequences of people-pleasing?
People pleasers often put others’ needs ahead of their own, which can lead to feeling resentful or unfulfilled. Do you feel unfulfilled? Do you have dreams and goals that you put on the backburner? Are you afraid that if you speak up it will make someone else feel bad? Or perhaps you think that they won’t like you anymore?
A positive consequence of being a people-pleaser is that you avoid conflict, which can sometimes be a good thing.
However, people-pleasing typically has more negative consequences. Your needs are often not being met, which can lead to feeling unfulfilled and resentful. It may not be immediate and can develop over time. Sometimes the people in your life take advantage of you because they know you’ll give in or not speak up. Are the people in your life considerate of your needs? These unbalanced relationships can often lead to anxiety.
Are you in a balanced relationship?
If you have relationships with people who are considerate of you and your feelings, you’re probably not in a toxic relationship, but you still might not be standing up for yourself or having your needs met. Your need to people-please may not be the result of the other person trying to control you, but could be stemming solely from your end of the relationship.
In most matters, you probably do have an opinion, but don’t express it. When you bottle it up, your opinions might come out in a resentful or passive aggressive way in the future. Speaking up for yourself doesn’t equate to conflict. If you are effectively communicating in an assertive way, it won’t lead to conflict if it’s a healthy relationship at its core.
Healthy, balanced relationships allow for both parties’ needs to be expressed, respected, valued, and heard. If your needs are on the back burner, whether you are creating that dynamic or they are, it’s not a balanced relationship.
When you are a people-pleaser and in an unbalanced relationship, it can feel like you are being rejected or neglected. It feeds into a self-fulfilling prophecy of feeling rejected and abandoned over and over again, adding to anxiety and angst. This can be avoided if you speak up and set and state boundaries.
You Deserve to Have Your Needs Met
In order to feel fulfilled and have your needs met, you need to stop being a people-pleaser. Speaking up for yourself, being assertive, and setting boundaries will help you prioritize your needs so you can feel less anxious and more fulfilled in life. When you set healthy boundaries, there’s always a risk that the other person is opposed to them, but that’s an indicator that it is an unhealthy relationship. That’s a risk you have to take in order to help with your own anxiety and attain fulfillment in the long term. To learn how to set healthy boundaries, check out this blog post.
If you are finding it difficult or scary to communicate your needs with your loved one(s) and set healthy boundaries, talking to a therapist can help you learn how to be assertive and have your needs met. Dr. Violante provides teletherapy (online video therapy) to adults living in New York and Florida who are ready to move forward and make positive changes in their life. Contact her online or call 754-333-1484 today to learn more.