How does one become a people pleaser?

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Once I was invited for book club at a friends house. She asked everyone to get one of their favorite dishes. There was this person who came with way more than her share. Come to find out she was helping a few friends. A few people had asked her to get extra dishes.

If this person did that because they had a lot of time on their hands and this seemed like a good investment of their time, then that is a conscious decision they are making for themselves. However, if they decided to do this in spite of not having the time to invest in it, and the process not bringing any pleasure to them. Then this could have been done to make other people happy and in return seek validation and a boost to their self-esteem.

People pleasers believe their decision to prioritize others and over look their own needs should earn them validation and approval. But, if the people they go above and beyond for don’t respond in the way they expect, then that results in self doubt, shame, fear of not being liked.

Are people pleaser’s born like that?

People pleasers are codependent (Codependent behavior is taking care of other people to the point where your own needs and sense of self is lost). They have a difficult time saying no to things and setting boundaries. They are conflict avoidant and their self esteem is based on external approval, their identity is based on how much they do for other.

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People pleasing is learned very early in life. It is a skill that children adapt to maintain connection with their parents.

Their parents or people they depend on for their survival were physically or emotionally absent and are not attuned to their needs. They are usually preoccupied and overwhelmed with their own concerns and worries. These parents might be unpredictable and not consistent with fulfilling their needs. They might have had good times with their parents, but these times are not consistent or predictable. This leaves these children confused.

Cognitively, children between 2 to 7 years are very egocentric in the way they see the world, which means that they just have their own perspective. Therefore, they take on a lot of blame. They start thinking about things that they can keep constant in their world to make sure that the positive experience is repeated again. They start focusing on what other people need from them as opposed to what they need.

They learn to get attuned to other people’s needs. They develop guilt, shame, self blame negative self talk if they make a mistake or are not able to meet their parents needs or make them proud. They learn that love is conditional and if they want to be accepted they have to give something in return. Hence starts the journey of people pleasing.

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For example, A parent might be extremely critical of the child. But if the child makes less noise, gets good grades in school, helps around the house, in short keeps his or her focus in fulfilling the parents’ needs then the criticisms are less.

As parents we try to do our best. All of us make mistakes, some days are better than the others. One of the important things about parenting is to spend time repairing. To confess to the kids that you are having a hard day and that they are not responsible for it. For parents to take responsibility if they snap at their children because they had a long day and ran out of patience and apologize for doing that, might help with their concrete thinking in the early developmental stages of life. Helping them make sense of the situation and not take on the blame.

What is good about being a people pleaser?

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People pleasers are the nicest and helpful people you know. They are the ones you can always count on for any favor. They never say no. They help other people. They do their own work as well, most of them don’t ask for help as they don’t want to feel like burden. They take on a lot. They prioritize other people. They overlook their own needs. They are good for everyone but themselves.

The positive aspect of being a people pleaser is that they are very attuned to other people. They can sense what someone feels and needs. When they enter a room they can sense the energy in the room and adjust their expectation and presence accordingly.

What is not so good about being a people pleaser?

People pleasers might experience overwhelming amount of guilt and shame. They have a negative self talk. They are not very good to themselves. They hold themselves responsible for other people’s mistakes. Due to being conflict avoidant, they don’t express themselves resulting in bottled up emotions which might show up as passive aggressiveness and periodic anger out bursts. They also have to be very careful of giving away too much of themselves as they have a difficult time session boundaries.