Do you often defer to the wishes, desires, and wants of family and friends? Does your need to please and your lack of self-worth make it difficult to state what you need and what you want? Do you find it difficult to stand up for yourself, speak your truth and face potential or very real conflict?
Taken to the extreme a person who lets people walk over them is sometimes referred to as a doormat. Taken to the opposite extreme, a person who thinks only of their own needs and wants, might be called a narcissist or maybe selfish. What I have found is that the most healthy place to reside is in the middle. Staying in that middle area involves empowering yourself to know what you want and need and to seek that out, yet also to be kind and considerate of the needs and wants of others.
In the past I have stood my ground when someone was trying to treat me like a doormat or take advantage of my kind heart. However, my desire to please those I cared about could lead me to negate my own opinion, my own desires in order to make them happy. Sometimes making those we love happy is wonderful. I want my husband to be happy. I love to see him have his needs and wants fulfilled. The same goes for my children, extended family and close friends.
Problems can arise though when we do things to please out of fear. We may be fearful that if we don’t do what our partner, family member, friends want, that they will be angry at us, perhaps even abandon us. Our self-esteem may be low enough that we think what others want is more important than what we want. We value others, more than we value ourselves.
Harriet B. Braker, PhD, author of The Disease to Please: Curing the People Pleasing Syndrome, shares this about the topic, “People pleasers are not just nice people who go overboard trying to make everyone happy. Those who suffer from the Disease to Please are people who say ‘Yes’ when they really want to say ‘No’ – but they can’t. They feel the uncontrollable need for the elusive approval of others like an addictive pull. Their debilitating fears of anger and confrontation force them to use ‘niceness’ and ‘people-pleasing’ as self-defense camouflage.
“They may appear to the outside world as perennial ‘nice’ people, but they are only concealing their true anger and resentment behind public ‘happy faces.’ And they are hurting themselves and those they would otherwise seek to please.”“For many, the difficulty may start innocently enough with genuine and generous attempts to make others happy. But this seemingly harmless passion to always be ‘nice,’ to put others first and to compulsively please them even at the expense of your own health and happiness rapidly spirals into a serious psychological syndrome with far-reaching physical and emotional consequences.”
According to reviews “The Disease to Please explodes the dangerous myth that people-pleasing is just a simple problem of going overboard in seeking to please others. It reveals the underlying approval addition, toxic mindsets that rationalize and perpetuate the problem, and the fear and avoidance of anger, rejection and confrontation that fuel the emotional avoidance pattern.”
Do you identify with being a “people pleaser” and a “goodist?”
If yes, are you beginning to recognize that there are fears that drive you to please others, even at the risk of denying your own wishes and needs?
Are you ready to change?