The Dark Side of People Pleasing
Have you ever said yes when you really wanted to say no? If not, good for you. If so, you’re not alone. Everybody’s doing it these days. What in the world could compel someone to act contrary to their own wishes? I’ll tell you what: people pleasing. People pleasing occurs when a person puts everyone else’s needs ahead of their own. It stems from a deep-seated fear of rejection, a constant need for external validation and an inability to say no. So what’s the big problem with desiring validation? We all want to be liked. We all want people to click on that little white “thumbs up” which validates our very existence. The more likes the better, right? I don’t think so.
The dangers of being a chronic people pleaser are dark and deceptive.
They insinuate themselves into your psyche with a calculated subtlety. Before you know it the unholy trinity of stress, resentment and self-alienation has taken hold.
Overwhelming stress is the first sign that your desire to please others has become destructive. When you take on more tasks than you can handle because you are afraid of disappointing someone you are engaging in people pleasing behavior. This starts the cycle. There is a constant feeling that you are too busy to get everything done. Instead of pulling back from some of your responsibilities to others you decide to stop making time for yourself to do things like exercise or eat lunch. You don’t know the power of the dark side.
Then comes the resentment. Unexpressed anger about having to be all things to all people gets suppressed; transforming itself into bitter resentment. Passive-aggressive behaviors begin to surface during this stage as well. Hurtful sarcastic comments towards others and giving people “guilt trips” about how much you’re doing for them are two common ways that resentment reveals itself. Serious damage to relationships can occur during this stage as you drift farther and farther away from your authentic self.
Self-alienation is the third, and most devastating, stage of being a chronic people pleaser. You have spent so much time neglecting your own needs that you don’t even know what your needs are anymore. You have lost touch with your true self and replaced it with the compulsive drive to be liked or needed. Being alone with your thoughts brings up feelings of unbearable emptiness that often lead to addictive behaviors and co-dependent relationships. It does not have to end up this way. There are ways to interrupt or reverse this cycle and get back in touch with your true self. Here are ten ways to stop yourself from becoming a chronic people pleaser:
1. Learn to say no with confidence
2. Set clear boundaries and follow through
3. Realize when you’re being manipulated
4. Don’t apologize when it’s not your fault
5. Make yourself a priority
6. Remember that you can always choose to say no
7. Know what is important to you
8. Set realistic expectations of yourself
9. Don’t justify why you said no: you don’t have to
10. Face the fear of disappointing others