Take our assessment and learn if you may be a people pleaser. Learn how people pleasing affects us and our relationships in unintended ways. When does being nice cross the line and become unhealthy?
What’s the deal with People Pleasing?
It is a normal human need to belong; we were not made to be alone. All of us occasionally have moments when we say yes but wish we’d say no. But some people take their desire for approval to an unhealthy level. Some people find they regularly sacrifice their own needs in order to be liked or to avoid confrontation. The problem is that repeatedly giving in to others desires and ignoring your own can build resentment and lead to feeling overwhelmed. Ironically, the more you accommodate others while ignoring your own limits, the more you will feel depleted and unappreciated.
People pleasers come in a variety of forms and many people don’t even realize that this is an issue for them because they may not see themselves as the stereotypical “doormat”. Some people pleasers struggle with anger or may find themselves behaving passive aggressively. Some people pleasers struggle with other issues such as procrastination, perfectionism, loneliness, and fatigue. If you’ve ever wondered whether you might be a people pleaser, answer the following questions. Now be honest, don’t answer the way you think you should!
Are you a People Pleaser?
- Do you tell little white lies to avoid difficult conversations or conflict?
- Do You Do Things Out of a sense of Duty or Desire?
- Are you afraid to rock the boat?
- Is it hard for you to know what you want?
- Do you avoid saying what you want if other people are not likely to support it?
- Do you feel guilty or that you’ll let someone down if you say no?
- Do you agree to help others even when you don’t really have the time or resources to do so?
- Are you afraid of being called selfish?
- Do your relationships feel one-sided, like you do most of the work?
- Do you feel taken advantage of?
- Do you sometimes feel angry or resentful of people for asking for your help?
- Is it hard for you to take initiative?
If you answered yes to more than two of these, you may be a people pleaser. While some people recognize these traits in themselves they may not see how they can be a bad thing. Is it so bad to want to be helpful and caring toward others? What’s wrong with keeping the peace and being nice? These are good questions, because many of the traits that characterize people pleasers are good and admirable.
Let’s not forget that it is good and healthy to serve others. Having an altruistic focus rather than constantly thinking about yourself is healthy, increases empathy, and has benefits for society at large. Much of our culture is too self-centered and could benefit from learning a little more consideration of others. That being said, when we put all our energy into serving others to our own detriment it leads to burnout, resentment, in-authenticity in our relationships, stress and physical complications, and our being unable to serve well because our personal resources are so depleted.
“Taking good care of YOU means the people in your life will receive the best of you, not what’s left of you.”
— Carl Bryan
By prioritizing everyone else, we make ourselves last priority and spread ourselves so thin that we may be ineffective or less-effective in all areas of our life. People who don’t practice good self-care are less effective parents, cannot give 100% in their relationships, or at work. High levels of stress brought on by doing too much and neglecting self-care have been shown to lead to negative physical symptoms such as headaches, gastro-intestinal conditions, lowered immune system, increased blood pressure, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, sleep problems, depression and anxiety to name a few. Heightened stress can also exacerbate existing symptoms from a number of other medical and mental health conditions. Self-care is not selfish or a luxury.
“Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation.”
— Audrey Lorde
Similarly, it is good to be kind, but true healthy relationship requires honesty. The real test of intimacy in relationships is whether individuals can be honest and open about their needs and the things that are difficult to talk about. If we are too concerned about sparing a loved ones’ feelings to tell them the truth, we are not being loving and we are not allowing them to know us on a deeper level. Ultimately, if you assess your motives for avoiding telling the truth, they are often selfish: it is your own discomfort that may be stopping you, not true consideration.
Ironically, sometimes individuals people pleasers can be disappointing to the people they are intending to please. People pleasers can suffer from procrastination, due to an inability to make decisions and take initiative, so their projects may move slower and miss deadlines. Some people pleasers are chronically late due to an inability to prioritize and manage their time which can be frustrating to the people around them. People pleasers are more likely to struggle with anger, which builds up and at some point must be released sometimes through angry outbursts; since the people in their lives had little warning about their building frustration, they can feel blind-sided and hurt by these emotional explosions.
“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”
— Ephesians 4:25-26 (NIV)
Lastly, the emotional backlash of people pleasing behavior often includes feelings of resentment. If you are “keeping the peace” but stewing inside, is that real peace? People Pleasers often practice passive aggression in their communication and behavior which can be damaging for the relationships they feel they are trying to protect.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
— Galatians 1:10 (NIV)
We can help you identify these destructive patterns so you can change them. We can walk with you towards finding balance in your life and your relationships. By addressing your people pleasing tendencies you can be true to yourself, experience greater peace, and grow into the person you were made to be.