What it means to be a ‘people-pleaser’

HAVE you ever been called a ‘people-pleaser’ before? Well, if you have then you and I probably have similar traits to our personalities. Being called a people-pleaser means exactly what it implies—you’re trying to please others. You have developed such a strong sense of compassion and care for others, especially those closest around you that you will do everything in your humane power to keep them happy. The word ‘NO’ is not included in your vocabulary as it relates to people’s requests and they can always count on you to live up to their expectations. I like to compare people who are people-pleasers to those heroic shape-shifters we’d see in superhero comics or shows. However, instead of them shape-shifting their physical body, it’s more of an ordeal of personality and behaviour. In essence, a people-pleaser shifts and moulds their behavioural traits to whatever or whoever you’d want them to be. For some, this can be seen as a good thing and we take advantage of such a trait. But, is it really healthy for the pleaser of people themselves?

One can only wonder where does such a trait come from or how it’s developed. What makes a human being to constantly leave their self-undone to satisfy the needs of others? First of all, we should take a look back at that person’s childhood experiences and past. Perhaps, it was the hostile displeasure your parents had every time you broke a rule, or a grandparent who accepted nothing more than As in your exam—under extreme and consistent circumstances similar to these can slowly develop the trait of people-pleasing. Another reason as to why people might have this trait is the simple reason of having a fear of rejection and a fear of failure. That very person is afraid that if by chance they do not live up to people’s expectations, they will be forced to become an outcast of either society or those closest around them. Likewise, they might also have a fear of being a failure. As if, there is absolutely no room for making mistakes which will ultimately lead to disappointing others. Sometimes, we even act out of natural instincts of love and affection for others. Some people may be highly dependent on us (or so we think) and we try our best to not hurt them. We live up to their image of an ideal partner, sister, friend or even parent. Personally, the reason why I may please others is that I try to avoid conflicts. The reason is that it is not always you and others will be on the same page of issues or topics. As such, I would find myself just agreeing to their sides (or so they think).

Given all the reasons why we choose to please others, don’t you think that if you are in fact a people-pleaser then you’re a liar? You’re lying to yourself and most importantly others around you. We ought to remember that every person is different and not every soul is fragile, some can, in fact, handle your cold truth. You should also realize that sometimes you do not please people for their own good but rather, for your own good- to help with your own fears and anxiety. People do deserve to know the truth about your actual feelings and intentions. Now, in no way am I saying that people-pleasing is entirely wrong. NO! The world needs compassionate souls who are willing to be selfless in times of needs. People-pleasing with no boundaries, limits and even an ulterior motive are where things take the wrong path. We should ‘people-please’ or for the use of better grammar (be compassionate) at our own boundaries and be aware of our personal limits. We should be considerate of our own feelings as well and acknowledge the fact that we should take care of ourselves first. Being taken advantage of, excess stress, aggression and resentment are all other effects of constant self-pleasing.

Eventually, as you parade through life always pretending to be someone or something you’re not you might lose track of who you truly are. Your underlying issues prevent you from expressing who you really are and turn you into someone that everybody wants you to be. You can be pleasant even without pleasing others, through effective means of communicating and expression of self. Finally, the next time you decide to ‘please’ others, be sure that when you say ‘YES’ to others, you aren’t in return saying ‘NO’ to yourself because ‘the surest way to lose your self-worth is by trying to find it through the eyes of others.’

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