We can’t let go of relationships for many reasons. These are people who once mattered to us. We want to believe we also mattered to them. Yet a breakup is proof at least one person cares less than the other. This is an excruciating reality and incredibly difficult to accept. There is nothing more painful […]
I recently wrote a column called Why People Pleasers Aren’t Weak.
That being said, trying to make everyone around us happy can become an emotional liability.
Relationships are already enough work. We don’t need to be the only investor. Being a pleaser can put too much onus on one individual.
And here’s what I found out when I temporarily ceased being a pleaser.
The people I tried hardest to please were the most displeased with me when I stopped being a pleaser.
For the first time in my life, I had problems that were too big for me to anguish about others. A prolonged and difficult divorce made it nearly impossible for me to worry about anyone else’s happiness. My children were my only priority.
They needed and deserved all of my emotional energy.
It was a wild contradiction for a pleaser who had been a lifer.
The girl who had once been consumed with everyone around her being happy was now completely unhappy herself.
Worse, I was too stressed to absorb anyone else’s problems.
Simply put…it was incredibly easy to be a pleaser when I was happy and problem-free.
In fact, I enjoyed being the fixer and the pleaser.
I felt like I was making a difference and lifting a few burdens for people.
Now that my life has settled back down I realize there are some lessons to be learned. I now understand pleasers and fixers need limits.
They need some boundaries.
Because any extreme behavior can cause an imbalance, even if it’s well-intended.
3 Things You Need to Know About Being a People Pleaser
Being a Pleaser Can Be Exhausting
Helping people can feel good.
And putting a smile on someone’s face is wonderful. However, we should not be overly responsible for another individual. A relationship is a ‘relay.’ An emotional back and forth. It is not and should not be one person’s responsibility to continually rescue and fix another’s world.
If we are expected to perpetually keep the peace in another individual’s world it will become exhausting.
In this case of ‘extreme pleasing,’ it’s critical to set limits.
The person who is over-burdening the pleaser needs to be self-responsible for their own life and choices.
They need to make the changes necessary to become self-accountable and self-sustaining.
Therefore, if someone is continually asking for favors or taking out their mood a pleaser is no longer doing them any favors. They need to find a regular babysitter or pet sitter, they need to change their job, etc. Whatever repetitive behavior is making the pleaser regularly accountable for making their world work daily.
If we are pleasing a person to the point of personal exhaustion or to a point where it interrupts our own lives then limits need to be set.
The relationship can become one-sided
A relationship that is over-burdening one person is not right.
Nor would we want to be in a relationship with anyone who would take advantage of us.
But pleasers can lose sight of a more selfish individual because they tend to be happy enough themselves to want others happiness more than their own. They are often affable and good-natured. And because of this, they can gravitate towards some difficult personalities. The opposites attract or the roles we play in childhood theories. If we grow up being the pleaser in the family we can be drawn to the golden child who is used to getting their way. The roles we play in our families growing up can extend beyond them.
People pleasing to an extreme can lead to a heavily one-sided relationship.
The taker and the giver.
The difficult one and the easy-going one.
Again, there is a need to set boundaries or get out of this type of relationship. It’s not one person’s job to continually make another person happy and to continually sacrifice what is important to them in favor of keeping the peace.
One-sided contradicts what the word relationship means.
Pleasers Are Susceptible to Being Controlled
By nature of keeping the peace, we are throwing away some personal power.
If we are being pleasers to the extent we change aspects of who we are then we are allowing another person to control us.
If maintaining peace means walking away from who we are, what we love, people that we love, etc. this is ‘extreme pleasing.’ It is sacrificing too much of ourselves for another human being. And no confident and fair person would expect us to do that.
If pleasing and fixing leads to us feeling extreme stress if we do not do what someone wants us to do that is a huge red flag. If pleasing leads to a feeling of unpredictability if we do not do what someone wants us to do that is a huge red flag. If pleasing leads to us fearing anger if we do not do what someone wants us to do that is a huge red flag.
If pleasing leads to us feeling we have to live by someone else’s guidelines and rules to the extinction of our own true selves it is time to set serious boundaries.
In some cases, it might be time to limit or curb the relationship.
If we are pleasing to the point we spend all of our time worrying about others and none about ourselves it’s not good.
Pleasing in any extreme is not good.
It is possible to take joy in others being happy without completely sacrificing ourselves.
It is possible to avoid conflict to a degree.
It is possible to fix some problems.
It is possible to be easy-going but recognize difficult personalities.
It’s possible to please ourselves.
Some relationships may disappear once a pleaser is no longer an extreme pleaser.
And that’s okay because good relationships are not perpetually exhausting, one-sided, or controlling.
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