Turn Setbacks into Setups

The Hidden Dangers of Being a People Pleaser

October 22, 2018

We all want to be thought of as selfless, helpful, kind—the definition of a good friend. However, for some of us, it’s possible to take things too far. A “people pleaser” is someone who takes a desire to be helpful and considerate to a harmful extreme, and who will go to great lengths to ensure someone else’s satisfaction at the expense of the self.


At first glance, this behavior may appear useful, positive, and well-intentioned. However, in reality, it’s simply self-sacrificing and self-destructive. Here are the three major (and painful) hidden costs of being a people pleaser.


People Pleasing Limits Your Ability to Invest in Yourself

Those who struggle with people pleasing often find themselves relentlessly making efforts to help and gather good will from others. But if you constantly put your own opinions, priorities, or desires on hold and spending your energy to further someone else’s cause, how can you possibly ever expect to live your life? Your time and energy are limited (and valuable)! Constantly giving it all away will leave you left with nothing at the end of each day.


Furthermore, with no time to invest in themselves, people pleasers often complain that they feel “out of touch” with who they are as a person, with little idea of what they need or want.


People Pleasing Makes You Vulnerable to Abuse

In general, people pleasers often have poor self-esteem. This is because they equate their self-worth with their ability to give to others…and unfortunately, there are those who are more than happy to take advantage of this “generosity.”


Some people are simply predators, and they can quickly identify subservient behavior in others. This creates a vicious cycle whereby a dominant person will constantly engage the people pleaser for his or her own agenda. The people pleaser in turn cannot or will not say no, which further perpetuates the problem and keeps the people pleaser from reaching for their own goals.


People Pleasing Behaviors Can Be Annoying and Unattractive

Finally, people pleasing behaviors can be downright annoying at times. Common traits of people pleasing behavior include constantly asking for permission or opinions on trivial or small tasks. People pleasers may also show frequent signs of indecision, hesitation, or self-doubt, all stemming from a concern that their own choices may not sit well with someone else.


But think of it from the recipients end (assuming the other person is not a “predator”). Constantly being asked questions like “Can I sit here?” “Is it ok if I wash my hands?” “I don’t know, what do you like?” and so on is frustrating and time-consuming.


Obviously, being a people pleaser has very high-costs that can interfere in many areas of your life. All of these hidden costs raise the question: how can I ensure that I am likeable to others, without being a burden?


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