“People-pleasers want everyone around them to be happy and they will do whatever is asked of them. They put everyone else before themselves. Saying yes is almost an addiction that makes them feel like they need to be needed. This makes them feel important and like they’re contributing to someone else’s life.” Dr. Susan Newman, Psychologist and author of The Book of No: 250 Ways to Say It-And Mean It and Stop People-Pleasing Forever.
When it comes to having an actual personal characteristic, the ability to help someone when they need it is an admirable trait to display. Particularly in a time where the value of human life is on a steady decline.
Before I jump into why people-pleasing is bad, I want to first state the obvious. There is a genuineness about people-pleasers that many people of today do not have, and that is the spirit of helpfulness. But what makes this trait so destructive is that people-pleaser often neglect their own needs to support someone else. And although they feel their conscience warning them to stay clear of particular situations, their better judgment is often ignored because they do not want to hurt anyone feelings. Which will later lead to feelings of resentment.
My life as a people-pleaser, I would describe myself as Super Woman. I had a strange desire to save the day. For as long as I can remember, I had a thing for protecting the seeming underdog. Believing that if I show them, I am a loyal person, they will in return do the same for me with the hopes of building a meaningful relationship…..but that almost never happened. Confused, I would wonder why I was always in situations where I gave my 100% complete all to people and didn’t get the same treatment in return. No matter the situation, the results were always the same. I would keep many of my family members children when they needed babysitters. When their children stayed at my house, I would treat them well, making their experience with me enjoyable. But when it was time to do the same for my family, when I wasn’t around, I later found out my kids was treated differently. There were many similar situations as the one mentioned above ranging from various scenarios. My confusion then turned to anger, and anger turned into rage. My Anger often appeared to be an unwarranted expression by those who benefited from my support but didn’t have the same heart for me as I did for them. The joke behind my back would be that I am certified crazy because my reaction to situations would “appear” over the top. All I wanted was the same love and respect in return. Didn’t my loyalty count for something? Anything?
Why Are You MAD? People-Pleasing is a Choice!
“Why are you so mad?” I asked myself. Later realizing I put myself in those situations. At that point, I hadn’t compartmentalized the people in my life. My arms were open to save everyone’s life around me, but many parts of my personal life were crumbling. I had begun to neglect my important responsibilities. I would be on the phone for hours with family members trying to neutralize situations that had nothing to do with me, hoping to save the day. In one case, in particular, I allowed a family member to use my home address so their children can attend school in a better school district. What started off as impressive arrangement quickly made a turn for the worst. After two years, Let’s just say that situation turned out to be the worst mistake of my life. Relationships that were once solid will never be the same again. If I had said no from the beginning, many of the hardships that resulted in me saying yes would have never come to fruition. Examining all other situations I’ve been in where the end result turned sour, I now realize if I had boundaries put into place from the beginning to protect my best interest, many of those situations would have been nonexistent. And because what was meant to be helpful often turned out to be a bad idea, I found myself falling into a deep depression.
After being depressed for days that turned into weeks and then into months, I told myself “Enough is ENOUGH!” I cannot feel sorry for myself. I am in this state of depression due to a wrong choice. I had to take responsibility for what was happening around me. Once the root of my problems was acknowledged (people-pleasing) I began to take steps towards my healing.
- Recognize the role I played in the grand scheme of things: People can only do what you allow.
- Printed out and recited The Serenity Prayer daily: Real change can only happen when the mindset changes.
- Examined my circle
- Began the process of compartmentalizing people.
- Completely eliminating one-sided relationships.
- Changed my focus towards my own affairs.
- Exercise my right to speak my mind, including saying no.
Months later, I feel superb. I am more confident. I have more positive interactions with people, and I realized that I have some really amazing people in my life who has been by my side the entire time who truly value who I am as a person.
I’m at a stage in my life where I only want to be surrounded by what is important to me. In this season in my life, I only want to be bothered with my immediate family, my close friends, and my real cheerleaders. Sometimes you just don’t care that much about anything else but what is truly remarkable and genuine love.
Stay Tuned for People Pleasing: Why Is It Bad? 4 Part Series
Question: Can you identify with any of the scenarios above? Have you ever said “YES” to something or someone that you later wish you said no? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.