Have you ever heard of the term “people-pleasing”?
You know…those people who just do things for others just to keep them happy and to avoid conflict?
People-pleasing may sound like a good idea. Unfortunately, however, it can result in being very destructive to your personal growth and prevent you from evolving into the individual that you were meant to be.
As we grow older, we make friends and we start to look up to peers that we respect. We form a good relationship with those people and we do our best to keep conflict to a minimum. After all, we are taught that it is not nice to hurt other people’s feelings and we are taught to be compassionate and supportive of each other.
There’s nothing wrong with that as we all yearn for that sense of community and belonging.
Unfortunately…that can pose a problem. For some (if not most people), their friendliness can become a little bit overextended to the point where others see it as an opportunity to take advantage of that person. We all have needs that want (and need) to be fulfilled and if taking advantage of an individual’s kindness and generosity is the path of least resistance, then that is what we will do to ensure our survival.
Now, people-pleasers do have good intentions: they want to help others, support them in a time of need and want to make them feel good. In the process of doing that, however, they give away their power and their own needs are sacrificed as a result. That can leave them feeling undervalued and underappreciated. It’s possible that other people don’t deliberately set out to take advantage of others as they themselves are unaware of their own intentions (or how they form them). I understand that there are exceptions, as there are people out there who intentionally prey on others whom they see as weak and incapable of fending for themselves.
I used to be a people-pleaser. I wanted people to like me…I wanted people to feel good and I didn’t want any enemies (plus I hated feeling like an asshole for not helping someone). I hated conflict and confrontation (and I still do). I felt that people-pleasing was a viable means of getting myself through life and getting rewarded at the end. I thought I was on easy street: make people happy, I get rewarded. Now, I am a friendly person because it is a big part of who I am, so I can’t just merely turn it off on a whim. But it is what I did with my friendliness that started to cause me problems.
It got to a point where I was turning into a “yes”-man. I never said no, I never turned people down and I never asserted myself. I was a pushover…a complete pushover. I didn’t want to hurt others nor their feelings because I was so immersed in the notion that just because I was friendly, I always (always) had to support others. I didn’t want to rock the boat nor offend others.
That all turned out to be a grave mistake because in a way, I was giving my power away to others by sacrificing and neglecting my own needs. As the years rolled on, I started getting worse and worse and worse. I attached my self-worth to what others thought about me which then caused me to buckle and fade in the throes of criticism and rejection.
This may sound like a small thing, but it is really important to consider as to how not being assertive and standing up for your own worth can be damaging to your physical, emotional and mental health and well-being. I hear a lot about mental health and mental illness. Ever wonder how that all starts? I bet you anything that someone’s illness starts off small and, left unchecked, manifests into something very destructive. Is it any wonder why people get depressed? Why people go on shooting sprees? Why kids commit suicide because of being bullied or their parents not listening to them when they want to discuss their issues?
Is it any wonder why people go absolutely crazy (and even turn to murder or suicide) because they don’t feel wanted or appreciated?
As you can see, being too much of a people-pleaser can lead to disastrous results.
So what can you do? What can we do about it?
First off, know that you can change and can develop more choices that can serve you well.
Second – you matter. You are valuable. You have potential. You have needs, too! You have your own life and your own priorities and responsibilities to tend to.
Third – you are not responsible for the thoughts, feelings and actions of other individuals around you…even if it is your own family (parents, siblings, aunts, uncles etc). You are only responsible for you. If people get offended by your assertiveness, that is their problem, not yours! They choose to be offended, not you choosing to offend them…
We always go on about acting like adults and taking responsibility for our lives and actions. So tell me, how is sacrificing your own needs, self-worth and value for the “good” of others the “grownup” thing to do? How can you achieve a goal….while working against it? If you sacrifice your own needs, health and well-being, how are you going to be there to help other people?
People will always frame you (i.e. put you into a box of their own convenience) with unrealistic expectations of they think you should be…and the second you step outside of that frame, you are then seen as a bad person. You are not a bad person…you are just evolving into the person that you were meant to be. Never let others change you into something that you are not. You are not doing anyone any favours by just merely pleasing them and getting the shaft in the end.
There really is no sense in serving the (unrealistic) expectations of others, only to have them stroll off into the sunset with their needs being fulfilled while leaving you in the gutter feeling worthless, undervalued, underappreciated and forgotten.
Respect is a two-way street.
What are you doing today to grow into the person that you were meant to be…?