The Danger Of Being a People Pleaser

Good morning, friends!  Before I get started today, I want to take the time to thank everyone that has been following my journey.  This past week was a very busy one for me.  On Monday, I went to a Young Living event to learn about all the new products that were released at convention this year.  I love Young Living events because I get to meet new people and visit with the friends I have made since joining the company.

This week, I met a young woman.  She approached me and told me that she reads my blog and finds the content to be very encouraging. You know, it’s so easy to assume that the same people are reading your blog and to forget that people you haven’t met are finding the blog and following along with the journey.  It was a good moment for me and I found it very encouraging.  So, thank you everyone.  Whether this is your first time here or you’ve been here for every post, thank you for taking the time to share in my life.  While you’re here, take a moment to post a comment and share your life with me.

I Am a People Pleaser

After talking about the power to change your thoughts, I want to take the time today to talk about the dangers of being a people pleaser.  I just went to Google and typed in “What is a people pleaser.”  The first result was an article from Psychology Today and it  shared, “A People Pleaser is one of the nicest and most helpful people you know. They never say ‘no.’ You can always count on them for a favor. In fact, they spend a great deal of time doing things for other people. They get their work done, help others with their work, make all the plans, and are always there for family members and friends.”  Sounds great, right?

Honestly, people pleasers are great… unless you are one.  People pleasers are willing to sacrifice their own thoughts and feelings through acts that are designed to make everybody like them.  These aren’t truly acts of friendship.  They are acts of manipulation.  When you use your behavior in an attempt to control or sway the thoughts/behaviors/feelings of someone else, you are manipulating them.  This relationship pattern frequently leaves us filled with all sorts of negative emotions about ourselves and others and we turn to food to cope with these feelings.  I am a people pleaser and I have noticed a few issues with this relationship pattern:  1) it makes you a liar, 2) it’s not possible to please everyone, and 3) it’s builds resentment which destroys relationship.

It Makes You a Liar

Picture this:  You get asked by your best friend if you want to help her daughter’s girl scout troop sell cookies outside of Wal-Mart on the first pretty Saturday your area has had in weeks.  You had planned to spend the day with your hammock and a good book cause your kids are spending the day at a birthday party and you finally have some much-needed time alone.

As a people pleaser, I can’t tell you how many times I have blatantly lied in an attempt to ensure that someone liked me or to control their opinion of me.  Don’t get me wrong, they were good lies.  Er… well… they were helpful lies… unless you are one of those strict moralists that believes there is no such thing as a good or helpful lie… which I am…

Do you see the problem?  Lies don’t make friends.  We become a liar ANY time we are in a situation where we agree to do something we don’t want to do.  We mistakenly believe that the sacrifice we put ourselves through makes us a better person or better friend, but it doesn’t.  It makes us a liar.

Even when we do tell the truth, there is always a temptation to blanket the truth with a more acceptable lie.  In the situation above, we respond, “Oh… dang.  My week has been so busy.  I have to catch up on errands and housework.  I wish I could.”  We know that our week has been busy and that we have prioritized our mental health over our housework, but we don’t want to risk the chance that we may be viewed in a negative light.  So, we give a more acceptable reason… a lie.

It’s Not Possible to Please Everyone

The second issue that I find with being a people pleaser is that it’s literally not possible to please everyone.  The only person we can control is ourselves.  Everyone else gets to control themselves.  When we choose to define ourselves based on the thoughts and opinions of everyone around us, we create in ourselves an unstable self-esteem that is completely out of our control and never stable.

Take the scenario above.  You agree to help out of fear of your friend rejecting you or viewing you as selfish and sacrifice your own needs (manipulation to control their perception of you).  Then, during the event, you and your friend get into a disagreement over an issue and you’re left at the end of the day having neglected yourself, feeling rejected by your friend, and completely in shambles despite your best efforts to earn the exact opposite.

The people around us are free to do as they please.  Regardless of our tactics, we can never truly control the thoughts/feelings/behaviors of anyone.  When our self-esteem hinges on making everyone around us view us in the best possible light, we have set ourselves up for a life of misery.  It’s simply not possible.

It Builds Resentment Which Destroys Relationship

Nobody likes a selfish person.  When we live the life of a people pleaser, we constantly prioritize the needs and wants of those around us in an effort to make people like us.  All too often, this repeated pattern of sacrificing our own needs begins to feel a bit one-sided and we begin to feel pangs of resentment when that sacrifice isn’t reciprocated.  There are several ways this can show up.  Sometimes we just get sick of always feeling “walked on” or sometimes we get frustrated that they aren’t as willing to do the same for us when we are the ones in need.

Come on, on now, be honest.  This is where our true motives are revealed:  those moments when we are the one in need and our friend doesn’t do what we want them to.  Our discussion (either internally or externally to someone else) sounds a bit like, “I can’t believe they won’t help me.  How many times have I dropped what I was doing for them?!”

In our effort to “earn” their friendship and control their opinions of us, we also built a pattern where we expect our efforts to be reciprocated. When that doesn’t happen, the lie falls apart.  We never did those things because we wanted to do them.  We did them entirely for selfish reasons.  Regardless of the manner in which it is developed, resentment ALWAYS shows it’s ugly head and begins to deteriorate the relationship.  Sometimes this process only takes a few days.  In other relationships, this process can play out over years and years, but it always happens.

What Do We Do About It?

I’m going to be addressing this topic in my next blog post.  However, the simplest way to answer this question is to value yourself and your friends enough to live a life of honesty.  We are adults and can do as we please without needing to explain or justify the choices that we make and our friends are, too.  If we don’t want to help sell girl scout cookies outside Wal-Mart, we have every right to decline the request without the need to lie or explain.  I know this triggers a very real fear for some of us as we immediately begin to panic at the thought of what our friends will think of us if we really lived this way, but we will pick up here next time!

For now, though, it’s back to taking my life back.  Find me on social media:

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