If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may have what is called a people-pleasing pattern. This type of behavior can cause stress, anxiety, depression, and imbalanced relationships. People pleasers may not be consciously aware of their behavior; there’s a part of their psyche that wants to please others in order to avoid reactions that cause them to feel afraid. Such individuals have a problem setting boundaries. They want other people’s approval and, even more importantly, they want to avoid other people’s disapproval. For example, if someone asks a people pleaser for something, he or she often has a hard time not giving it, even if it goes against his or her own needs or wants.
A person who has a people-pleasing pattern will often take action without considering his or her own well-being. They might have difficulty getting what they want out of life and may feel resentful because people seem to always be taking advantage of them. People pleasing can be addictive and can cause a person to compromise his or her values and principles. They become addicted to the need for approval and to feeling good by making others happy as they pay attention to others' needs ahead of their own.
The way to change this imbalanced behavioral pattern is to stop thinking about what would make others happy and instead focus on your own needs. This isn’t to say that you should become totally selfish and never offer assistance to others. However, the greatest acts of kindness are those done by choice, not from a place of fear or guilt. If you’re doing things for others because you would feel bad if you didn't, is the action really genuine? Would you want others to help you under those terms? And, if you're helping others to such an extent that you’re neglecting yourself, is that really wise?
It’s important to recognize if you’re making decisions based solely out of fear of how others will react and learn how to make your own needs both a priority and known in a healthy way. Consider seeing a professional therapist to help you get you started building healthy self-esteem and move toward a life where you’re not dependent on others for approval or self-worth. Here are a few tips to help you step out of the pattern of people pleasing.