Friday Counseling Issues: Are You a People Pleaser?

What is a people pleaser, anyway?  Is it a bad thing?  I mean, shouldn’t we try to please the people in our lives?

As with anything else, it’s a matter of the proper balance. Most of us enjoy pleasing the people we love, and we also don’t mind pleasing people in general. The problem develops when you feel compelled to please whoever it is in  your life who is asking/demanding things of you. Now you have a problem, and if you don’t recognize what’s happening, it will consume you.

Most adolescents go through a period of wanting to please those they see as the “in” crowd, the cool kids, the ones who are popular. That’s pretty normal, and most of us got through that and grew beyond it without getting too many bumps and dents along the way. We learn to walk our own paths, and not to worry too much about what anyone else thinks of us. That’s a healthy attitude, and sign of maturity. Of course, we can take that attitude too far as well, offending people left and right because we don’t care what anyone else thinks. Balance.

So how do you know if you’ve taken “being nice” to a pathological level?  How do you know when you’ve gone too far and when you need to take some steps to pull back from your habit of losing yourself in other people’s wants and needs?

A people pleaser is a person who gives too much importance to pleasing others. In the process, their primary intention is to be liked and appreciated in return by the people they try to please. The problem here is that those who are people pleasers think they have to be that way in order to be like, accepted, and appreciated. In the process, they don’t learn to draw boundaries around themselves to keep the predators out of their lives.

There are two kinds of people pleasers.

The first people pleaser goes out of his way to be nice or help others because he feel  it’s his moral obligation to do so. He’s taken the biblical injunction to be kind as the only controller in his life. He can’t say no, and he’s terribly afraid of offending others.

The other kind of people pleaser  tries to help people all the time or constantly complimenst others in the hope of getting the same treatment back from her friends. She seems to be seeking validation for her existence in the form of praise from the people in her life. If she doesn’t get the praise she needs, she will go out and seek a way to find it.

People pleasers can’t stand to feel that anyone, anywhere, dislikes them.

The truth is, most of us don’t get through life without someone else deciding to dislike us for one reason or another.  

We really shouldn’t fear the dislike of others.  Some people are just impossible to please, and the harder you try, the more they sneer. Forget them. You’re wasting your time.  I promise you, if you take a stand for anything at all–save the whales, eat more chocolate, coffee is bad for you–someone is going to criticize you for it.

You can’t please all the people all the time.

So how can you know if you’ve taken your tendency to please  people to an unhealthy level?

Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to offer you some ideas to help you figure it  out. Here’s the first one for you to consider:

People pleasers tend not to have any hard and fast convictions of their own. They are like chameleons, changing to blend in to their environment, to not stand out from the crowd. Do you do that? Are you quick to say, “Oh, I agree with you!  I didn’t mean to contradict you.  I’m sorry if you thought I was doing that.”

Are you quick to say “I’m sorry” even when you haven’t done a single thing wrong?

Maybe you’re a people pleaser.

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