Updated: Apr 13, 2021
Did you know that people pleasing isn’t
actually the main issue affecting people pleasers? Yes, they want to make other people happy and will behave accordingly, however it is not the main thing.
People pleasing is generally a sign that someone is struggling with self-worth issues and their people-pleasing is commonly mistaken for kindness.
Much like other maladaptive coping skills, people-pleasing develops out of a need to feel accepted and has a long history in the person's life. It can be hard to change only because of its severity.
Are you a people-pleaser?
7 signs you are a people pleaser:
1. Duty is driving your motivation
Duty – you have 2 choices regarding your mindset with your roles and the
1) you can willfully choose to do what you do because it is your authentic preference;
2) you can live up to your role’s expectations because you feel obligated to do so.
People pleasers tend to operate in choice #2 while trying to convince themselves they
are operating under #1.
Is duty driving your motivation? Ask yourself:
a. Is there ever a time when I quietly tell myself that I shouldn’t have let someone
else persuade me to do what I really didn’t want to do?
b. Do I take on more commitments or responsibility than my schedule allows?
c. Do I do what I do for fear that others might not do it at all?
d. Are my decisions influenced by the fear of disappointing some if I told them no?
e. Once in the midst of a project, do I ever think about all the other things I should
be doing instead?
f. Do I frequently wish I was doing something other than what I am doing?
2. Personal legitimate needs quickly set aside
Think of the things needed to be successful in life. You need love, cooperation,
connection and encouragement or validation. You have survival needs like money, food,
shelter and clothing. You have emotional nourishment through personal confiding,
laughter, and crying on a caring shoulder. These things are necessary for you to develop
the sense that your life is heading in purposeful direction.
Most people pleasers recognize these needs. They do however have a lopsided acknowledgement of others’ needs while regularly denying their own.
3. Equating decisiveness with hurting others
People pleasers often assume more responsibility for others’ emotional reactions than is
really warranted. They often falsely assume that if they make a decision which results in
another person feeling anger, disappointment, loss of respect or frustration, they
believe they must then take it upon themselves to relieve that person’s struggle.
4. Difficulty living within limits
People pleasers attempt to live as though they do not have the same limits other
people do. They will push themselves to be all that others expect, and more. Internally,
they are driven by the requirement to be more than what they are capable of being.
They are often referred to as Superwoman.
What limits do you see in yourself? It can be important to recognize how finite you are.
Who in your world would like you to ignore the truth about your limits as they attempt
to push you to feel, think or behave in ways that are unreasonable? When we push
beyond these limits our body will force you to recognize them.
5. Sensitivity to judgments
It would have been nice if we were taught how to keep other people's judgments in
their proper perspective.
In the positive sense, other’s evaluations can let you know how you are perceived and
can be a useful guide to steer you in making changes, if given from a person you trust.
In the negative sense, listening to the judgments of everyone can keep you from
making healthy choices.
6. The need to keep life controlled
Sometimes a person might make decisions in order to feel like things are going the way
they think it needs to go. Now, control is not always a negative thing. Having control
over your life and making your own decisions is healthy.
People pleasing shows up when a person is doing things for others and putting them
into a subservient position. For example, the overly helpful mom constantly picking up
after the family, as opposed to giving them instructions and allowing them to learn it
themselves may be people-pleasing.
7. Dishonesty about who you really are
People pleasers are not liars, they are frequently dishonest about their real feelings or
Take the time to pick one trait you want to change and focus your energy there. People pleasing can be changed, but it requires that you want to change it.