People Pleasing Tendencies - The Impact and Tips to Challenge
Heaven forbid someone be displeased with you. Truly, some folks feel such feelings very deeply. The depth of those feelings may have their roots in your childhood, at the foot of your parents. In some households, a parent may feel the need to tiptoe around the other, that they are walking on eggshells. Pleasing such a person may ease concern of an inappropriate outburst or even violence.
Those issues may extend to the children, that their behavior may also lead to an outburst by that parent. Hence, children learn at a very young age that the degree to which they please that parent, peace and calm may continue. However, often in a home with that dynamic, even reasonable behavior may lead to an inappropriate outburst and hence the other parent and child look to themselves as perhaps having done something wrong.
This can be anxiety provoking. This dynamic can also have long legs, meaning they follow the child as a way of relating to others, well into their adulthood. The problem is, as they continue the people pleasing behavior, they lose their own voice and place in the world and in their relationships in favor of the preferences of others. They may also have difficulty setting boundaries and thus may take on or feel compelled to do more than their fair share. This in turn lends itself to an unbalanced and unsatisfying life. In some cases, it can lead to one’s exploitation.
Here are three things you can do to push past being a people pleaser:
- To manage, now as an adult, it helps to feel safe. That may mean you may have to take stock of your current relationship and even workplace colleagues. If you are with folks that are also prone to inappropriate outbursts, you may have considerable difficulty speaking your mind and setting boundaries. It can be helpful to examine your social situation and seek to address or make changes to improve your conditions.
- Also, now as an adult, you may not realize it, but you do have more “agency” than as a child. Agency refers to the capacity to manage oneself in one’s interest. Whereas a child is fully dependent upon parents, you as an adult, are likely in a far better position to take care of yourself. As such, that which you tolerated and appeased as a child, you no longer must do so as an adult. As an adult, you can and do have the right to make choices in terms of what is acceptable to yourself.
- If no longer seeking to be a people pleaser, it doesn’t mean you must swing the pendulum to being rude, dismissive, or abrupt with anyone. It simply means you get to own your own point of view and convey it to others. Therein, you can do so politely too. You get to convey your feelings, thinking and preferences. With that, you develop and own your own mind. If another is having difficulty with that or it is met with extreme behavior, you are now learning more about the other than yourself. Therein there are choices to be made too.
Any difficulties putting any of the above in motion? Consult a therapist. They can help you come to understand the impact of childhood experience on present day behavior as well as learn strategies to manage more effectively.