I am sure you all know people who are Pleasers. They are the ones, who always try to do what is good for you, who always act in a way that pleases you and they are the ones with whom basically you have no confrontation. It is because they always agree with you and try to act in a way that is best for you.
While on the receiving end it can be experienced as a pretty comfortable situation, being a Pleaser is one of those psychological behaviors, that takes the most of out the one who performs it.
Being a Pleaser costs a vast amount of energy. If you are one, you are constantly scanning the people around you (consciously or subconsciously) for their moods, needs, desires. You always want to make them happy. You want to keep the harmony between yourselves on the maximum level at all times. What’s more, you even want to make sure that if you are not there with them, they are still in harmony and feel good. You do all that you can, and even more, to ensure that they like you.
For the Pleasers, the main purpose of their behavior is that they want everyone around them to like them. But this is a never-ending and pointless game. No one can get to a point in his or her life that all people around them will like them.
Because all people are different, they have somewhat different views of what is good, bad, acceptable, and so on. Therefore, if one person wants to be liked by everyone, that person will behave in many different ways at once. Pleasers invest an incredibly high amount of energy into this.
From the outside, you can also see them as chameleons. Depending on with whom they are interacting, they can behave in completely different ways. With a positive mindset person, they act in a positive way, with a complainer they complain – but this is just one of the million variations of the possibilities.
Pleasers in general have no real connection themselves. Because they always measure themselves through the eyes and value system of others, they have no idea about their own beliefs, values, real desires. They have already lost the connection to their core selves.
But why do Pleasers behave this way? What led them to this path instead of believing in and focusing on themselves?
As with many things, this can also come from childhood. Having parents who are demanding, who connect their love to certain conditions, make a child believe that they need to “work” for love. These conditions can be showing good behavior (based on the parents’ expectations), bringing good grades from school, assisting their parents in solving their pains of the soul, serving the parents’ needs, and many-many others. When these wrong parental expectations are met, love is given to the child.
But when they are not met, the child can face physical or emotional abuse, abandonment, ignorance, deliberate withdrawal of love, and all kinds of punishment. These parents think, that if the child is not “good”, they have the right to punish them (sometimes even to the extreme). These parents have never heard about unconditional love. They can only express love towards their child if their expectations and needs are met by the child. In some cases, they may even say that there is a problem with their child…
So, if a child is raised up under such circumstances, they learn quickly how to sense the needs of others and live up to them – in order to avoid punishment. Unfortunately, they will also bring this behavioral mechanism into adulthood, many times without even noticing.
Why is it harmful to be a Pleaser?
Instead of focusing on yourself and your own progress in life, you waste your energy on everyone else. Maybe you don’t notice it at first, but all that attention you pay to others adds up to using almost all of your energy. And what is left for yourself? Nothing, really. Because you are already used to you or your needs being unimportant, perhaps you don’t even think that they could be.
But I tell you now. They are important! Your needs, your feelings, your desires are important! You are important!
Even if you don’t think like this about yourself just yet. Do not waste yourself on others. You will never reach the goal of everyone liking you. This is simply impossible.
How to leave the pleaser behavior behind
Learn from what I written in the previous paragraphs. There will indeed be people in your life, who will not like you. I know, it is hard to even think about that if you are a Pleaser. But believe me, this is absolutely normal.
Once you accept it, you will need to focus more on yourself. You need to condition yourself to the fact that you are indeed important. Stepping out from the Pleaser-mindset can be particularly difficult because you might not know what to do with yourself, if not pleasing others.
Write down things that you (would) like doing in your free time, by yourself. You can also write down things that you have never tried but always wanted to do. Write down what you would need from yourself to live a better life. Find new hobbies, find new things that you really enjoy doing – and things that do not depend on others and/or are not connected to others.
Step by step, start to look deeper and deeper inside: Who is the real YOU? What are your main goals in life? What would you like to achieve in this life? What does real happiness mean to you?
If you know the answers to these questions, don’t just stop there. Start to take steps towards these things. Even if you do just a little something every day or week, that is already a great start. With time, you can increase the amounts, you can continuously shift more and more focus on yourself instead of focusing on others.
When you will start the healing from being a Pleaser, some people around you might not be happy about it – be prepared.
Of course, they will miss your attention, your energy, your continuous efforts to please them. But none of this is your responsibility. It is not a good idea to isolate yourself from the outer world with a rapid 180-degree turn. Those people around you who are accustomed to “using you”, will notice even the slightest change. But that is their problem, not yours. By you turning your focus more on yourself, you are actually setting a good example of how everyone is responsible for their own happiness and progress in their lives. Hopefully, they will eventually learn from it.
Your responsibility, in this case, is to be prepared to face quarrels or even losing some people in your life. The people who are leaving your life because you are starting to care about yourself, should not have been in your life in the first place. Do not forget that. Let those people go, who want to go. In the long run, you will probably be better off without them.
If you face difficulties in this process on your own, find someone who has done this already. Someone from your family or friends. You can also join self-awareness groups or find a professional therapist/coach/healer. All these options will help you stay on your path and discover your own life.
Because you are important. You deserve to live your own life and not that of others. And eventually, like-minded people will join you on your journey.
Stay positive, you can do it!
And for related articles on improving your relationships checkout my HCT – Holistic Coaching Therapy blog.
Dori is the founder of the HCT – Holistic Coaching Therapy method, through which she is offering real, profound and long-lasting solutions to the issues of her coaching clients. She helps her clients in the areas of dating, relationships, human connections, self-awareness, self-confidence and holistic mindset. She is the owner of the HCT blog, where she has been writing about these topics (and much more) for years.