If you’re a people pleaser, it may mean you’re known for doing whatever it takes to make other people happy. While being helpful and kind is generally good, going too far to please others can make you feel stressed, emotionally depleted and anxious. Let’s look into people-pleasing traits, the cause of this behavior and the damaging impact it can have. We’ll also discuss tips on stopping putting others before your needs and ensuring you can care for yourself.

The definition of a people-pleaser.

A people-pleaser is someone who puts others’ needs before their own. This person is highly in sync with others and is typically seen as helpful, agreeable, and kind. However, people-pleasers can also have trouble standing up for themselves, leading to an adverse pattern of self-neglect or self-sacrifice. People-pleasing is linked with a personality trait called sociotropy, or feeling overly concerned by pleasing others and getting their approval to sustain relationships. This behavior can be an indication of a mental health condition. Some mental illnesses linked with people pleasing include depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, or codependency.

Signs you’re a people-pleaser.

There are numerous characteristics that people-pleasers usually share. Some people-pleasing behaviors include having trouble saying “no,” being preoccupied with what other people think, feeling guilty when you tell people “no,” being afraid that turning people down will make them think you’re selfish or mean, and agreeing to things you don’t want to do or don’t like, and struggling with feelings of low self-esteem.

Other people-pleasing traits include wanting people to like you and feeling that doing things for them will earn their approval, always telling people you’re sorry, taking the blame even when it’s not your fault, never having any free time because you’re always doing things for others, neglecting your needs to do things for others, and pretending to agree with people even when you feel otherwise.

People-pleasers are usually good at tuning in to other people’s feelings. They’re also typically caring, empathetic, and thoughtful. These positive qualities might also include a need to take control, a poor self-image, or a tendency to over-achieve. People may describe you as a generous person or a giver, but when you’re a people-pleaser, all of this work to keep others happy leaves you stressed and drained.

What causes someone to be a people-pleaser?

It’s essential to recognize some of the reasons why you’re choosing to engage in this kind of behavior to stop being a people-pleaser. So what’s the leading cause of people-pleasing? Numerous factors come into play, including poor self-esteem. Sometimes, people participate in people-pleasing behavior because they don’t value their needs and desires. People-pleasers need external validation due to a lack of self-confidence, and they might feel that doing for others will lead to acceptance and approval.

Another factor that comes into play is insecurity. In other instances, people try to please others because they worry that others won’t like them if they don’t try their best to make them happy. It would help if you also considered perfectionism. Some people want everything to be just right, including how others feel and think. One final factor of people-pleasing is past experiences. Challenging, painful, or traumatic experiences can play a role. For example, people who’ve experienced abuse may try to be as agreeable as possible and please others to avoid triggering abusive behaviors in others.

The motivation to help others can sometimes be a type of altruism. A person may genuinely want to ensure that others have the help they need. In other cases, people-pleasing is a way to feel liked or validated. By ensuring that people are happy, they feel like they’re valued and useful.

The impact of people-pleasing.

People-pleasing isn’t a bad thing. Being a caring and concerned person is an essential part of sustaining healthy relationships with loved ones. However, it becomes an issue if you’re trying to win approval to shore up weak self-esteem or if you’re pursuing others’ happiness at the expense of your emotional well-being. If you devote your time to helping make others happy and win their approval, you may experience some consequences. For example, you may enjoy helping, but you’re bound to experience frustration when doing things out of obligation or reluctantly.

These feelings can lead to a succession of helping someone, feeling angry with them for taking advantage, and then feeling sorry for yourself or regretful. Attempts to keep others happy can stretch your mental and physical resources too thin, and trying to manage it all can leave you tormented with anxiety and stress, which can detrimentally affect your health. Helping others can have numerous mental health benefits, but not leaving enough time for yourself means you may end up dealing with the adverse health consequences of excessive stress.

Devoting your time, energy, and mental resources to ensuring that others are happy means you’re less likely to have the willpower and resolve to tackle your goals. Research suggests that self-control and willpower may be limited resources. If you’re using your mental resources to ensure that others have what they need or want, it may mean you have little to devote to your needs.

How to stop people-pleasing.

The good news is there are some ways you can stop being a people-pleaser and learn how to balance your desire to please others without sacrificing your needs. The first step is establishing boundaries. Establishing boundaries, knowing your limits, and communicating those limits to the people around you are vital. Be specific and clear about what you’re willing to take on. If it seems like the other person is asking too much, let them know it’s over your bounds, and you won’t be able to help.

Making sudden changes can be challenging, so it’s usually easier to start by advocating for yourself in small ways. In most cases, you not only have to retrain yourself, but you have to teach the people around you to acknowledge your limits. If being a people-pleaser makes it hard to pursue your happiness, finding ways to set boundaries and reclaim your time is essential. Remind yourself that you can’t please everybody.

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