What's Up With People Pleasers
by Lisa A. Romano
Common Traits of People Pleasers
People pleasers are those who look to cater to the needs of others at the expense of themselves for the sake of being liked, loved, and having a sense of worthiness.
People pleasers are looking to feel loved through acts of service. This behavior is rooted in a lack of self-love, self-respect, self-understanding, and self-awareness, as well as a fear of becoming abandoned or experiencing rejection.
- People pleasers are highly agreeable, conform easily, are nonconfrontational, and self-sacrificing.
- People pleasers serve others, believing and hoping others will return the same devotion.
- People pleasers overextend themselves even when it's inconvenient for them to do so.
- People pleasers are anxious others will dislike them if they do not do what others would like them to do.
- People pleasers are often secretly resentful and frustrated by how often they help others and rarely receive the same assistance or regard in return.
- People pleasers feel underappreciated.
There is a vast difference between offering care and consideration to someone in a healthy way and becoming what you think someone else needs you to be to please them. When we lack self-love, we may rely on people pleasing to avoid rejection and offer us a pseudo-connection to others.
Negative Subconscious False Beliefs Associated with People Pleasing
People pleasers are often under the illusions of faulty negative childhood programming, meaning they do for others because they believe they must do so to feel worthy.
When someone craves being liked, it is often because they have grown up feeling unlovable. As children, they may have felt powerless to gain their parent’s love in a way that they could have understood, and so, as adults, they learned that by taking care of others, they could feel liked and avoid rejection.
However, these behaviors ultimately lead to dissatisfaction and resentment.
- People pleasers hold secret expectations, and disappointments
- People pleasing is a mask.
People pleasers are often raised by a parent who was also a people pleaser. Watching one parent cater to the needs of the other can condition a child to believe this is the role they need to adopt.
In the case of abuse and neglect, a child may assume their circumstances are their fault, taking the blame for the mistreatment they experience.
As an adult, these negative beliefs can manifest as habitual people-pleasing.
3 Core Childhood Wounds Associated with People Pleasing
1) Abandonment trauma; children who have been denied a secure attachment to a primary caretaker cannot develop the trust in themselves they need to conclude that who they are on an innate level is worthy of love. Adults from dysfunctional homes who were denied a secure attachment are at risk for developing codependency people-pleasing traits later in life.
2) Emotional neglect; children who experience emotional neglect often experience shame. When shame becomes internalized, it may manifest as negative self-talk and self-perception. Adults who were denied consistent, predictable, warm maternal nurturing as children often develop codependency later in life.
3) Unpredictable childhoods; children who are born to alcoholics, narcissists, and or emotionally immature parents, as well as those who experience constant chaos in their lives, grow up feeling powerless to control their circumstances. People pleasing is one way to feel in control. Focusing on the needs of others allows for someone to direct the ship of other people’s lives, thereby lessening the chances of others abandoning or rejecting them.
4 Tips to Overcome People Pleasing
- Healing generational trauma; learning to look within and identify the areas in your life where one may have felt abandoned, neglected, and powerless, raises self-awareness. Understanding the subconscious motivation associated with people-pleasing allows the logical brain to associate pain with these behaviors versus pleasure. This is one way to hack the brain at the subconscious level.
- Elevate your consciousness; by becoming more conscious of people-pleasing ways, you are milking the brain’s superpower called metacognition. Notice when you are saying yes when your body asks you to say no. Noticing your habitual patterns of thoughts allows you to pattern-interrupt the neurological pathways associated with people-pleasing at the subconscious level.
Validate the self; codependent people-pleasers are other-focused. As we heal and raise our level of self-awareness, we increase our consciousness regarding negative behaviors. Once we notice our impulse to cater to others at the expense of ourselves, we can refocus our attention. By checking in with your body and asking to put yourself first, you can choose what you do consciously, why, and for whom you assist.
- Break the cycle of codependency; addressing how codependency is showing up in your life will help you become more self-aware. If you’re codependent, you focus on others to avoid abandonment. You will cater to the needs of others at the expense of yourself and worry that others will dislike you if you dare to say no. Healing from codependency addresses the core wounds associated with pleasing people and the subconscious beliefs that keep you tethered to these toxic cycles.
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