Unmasking the truth of People pleasers! Avinash Rajapet - Program Director & Head Trainer, Fitbee October 27, 2021

It doesn’t sound bad, when all you’re trying to do is be nice to people and bring them happiness, right? But, people-pleasing goes way beyond just simply being kind to someone, it’s about changing situations and scenarios, in order to please or not hurt someone else’s feelings. 

A people pleaser is someone who tries really hard to please someone else. They would like to go out of their way to make someone feel comfortable and happy, at the expense of their own comfort and resources! 

Imagine someone who is always nice to their elders, who is constantly keeping others, be it her family or friends above themselves and is more like a maternal figure who takes care of others before themselves? That person would be called a people-pleaser. Though there is nothing “wrong” if the other person finds joy in giving all the time, but with so much availability and always feeling that it’s your job to keep everyone around you happy, also comes a huge burden, responsibility, your own expectations and a lot of exhaustion! 

Psychology behind these tendencies! 

People-pleasing isn’t a life sentence, but it is a very common problem that exists. This is a strategy of coping up with a lack of security in any relationship. This usually rises early in the childhood where parents are too worried about their own issues, in order to focus and pay attention to their children and are out of tune to what the kids are feeling or thinking. This in-turn makes the children act like adults at a very nice young age and take the role of a caregiver towards their parents. 

The other reasons would be if a parent is struggling to emotionally connect with their children and are usually inconsistent, further developing hot and cold behaviour towards their kids. One moment they’re warm and sweet while the next moment they’re completely unattached and unavailable, making it very confusing for the child while growing up! 

Recognize the signs :

  1. You have a low opinion of yourself : You would feel less confident and more insecure and feel the need of constant validation from those around you. You may believe that people only care for you when they need you and you need their constant appreciation regarding the same 
  2. You want others to like you : Does the thought of someone hating or being indifferent to you, genuinely trouble you? That’s a huge sign of a People-pleaser! You spend a lot of time worrying about rejection, which might make you want to keep someone happy all the time! 
  3. It’s difficult to say “No” to someone : You constantly worry that saying No, is a strong rejection and that others might feel that you genuinely don’t care about others! It’s fine to be there and help someone, but if you say Yes constantly and you’re always worried about others, then you end up rejecting your own needs and end up exhausting yourself by always being there for others. 
  4. You apologise constantly, even when you’re not at fault : Are you always ready with a “Sorry?” when something doesn’t work out the way you imagined, even when it wasn’t your fault? There it is! You end up taking blame for things even when it wasn’t your fault in the first place. 
  5. You struggle with authenticity : You often have a hard time trying to understand yourself, when it’s time to take a step back and say No, and hence you might struggle with your own individuality. You might not be able to voice your opinion and feelings, even when you’re aware of the same. 
  6. You’re a natural giver : There isn’t anything wrong with giving, but when you’re constantly giving, then you also start building expectations and end up feeling rejected or completely sad when you feel you’re not getting it in return. 
  7. Arguments affect you a lot! : Nobody loves fighting but do you feel disturbed even after a small argument? And want to completely remove the thought of raising your opinions and speaking up for yourself when necessary? Even a small argument feels like a huge fight and it disturbs you to the core! 

Ways to overcome People-pleasing :

  1. Display kindness when necessary : It is important to be kind, but kindness shouldn’t come from a place to receive approval, but it should feel natural in its own way. Before offering help, ask yourself and try to identify if you genuinely want to offer them help or does it have some interior motives..?
  2. Practice saying No when it doesn’t feel right : It can be really tough for people who are alien to the concept of “saying No”. You should think of it more like a necessity instead of a huge disaster. Try asking yourself if you genuinely have space to do an extra task or be there for someone when you’re not feeling Emotionally or mentally exhausted. 
  3. It is important to set Boundaries : Like every house has a fence, it is also important for you to build Boundaries for yourself and others. Boundaries help you set some limits for yourself, try getting clarity by asking yourself 
  • Do you have the mental space and time for this? 
  • How do you feel about this action/task? 
  • Would helping make you feel better or drained out? 
  1. Apologise only when necessary : You might over-apologise due to your behavior or out of not hurting someone else, but you don’t have to be sorry for not “always” being there for someone else. It is okay to not say sorry for things that aren’t your fault. 
  2. Know that you are not alone : The world won’t stop revolving or your friends won’t really feel bad if you’re not there for them “once in a while” ~ If you’re not available, they’d always have another friend or another one! So remember that you do not have to carry the burden of others responsibilities. 
  3. Ask for help! : This might sound very simple yet very difficult to implement in real life, especially if you fall on the spectrum of a People pleaser. Don’t agree to take on a particular task if you’re not entirely sure. Pause for a moment to analyse the task, and if you think you need help, ask for help!
  4. Don’t always defend yourself :  People usually end up defending themselves when they say No to someone else. You may give a reason or end up over-explaining yourself to avoid any future resentment, but this often backfires! If you’re not available for a task, you’re just not available. 

People-pleasing isn’t just something to be used lightly. It is extremely difficult if you carry baggage from your past but what really matters is identifying the signs, acknowledging it and consciously taking efforts to get emotionally and mentally healthier! If you relate being a People-pleaser and you’re not sure how to work on this, reach out to a Mental health Professional. The battle gets better when you’re genuinely surrounded by people who want to help you get better, fitter and healthier mentally. 💛

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