Solving the people pleaser syndrome

Talking to various clients this week about their people pleasing patterns and lack of assertiveness, I knew for sure that I had to write about this topic.  We all recognize in us that we sometimes want to be nice to other people or try to make them happy. We adapt our behaviors and hide our opinion. We sacrifice to achieve that goal.  As long it is a conscious decision in that moment and we balance it with honesty, and making also choices for us it is fine.

But when it becomes a pattern, an automatic reflex to please others by giving up our choices and needs we can damage ourselves. Others can take advantage or we can end up doing things we are not interested in, feel under pressure, get rejected and lose our self-esteem. People pleasers miss out on love, career opportunities, and self-respect. It can lead to feelings of disconnection and loneliness. 

“I’m not good enough”

Talking to these clients this week, one thing they all had in common. They all came from families where they didn’t have the chance to ”just be children”, play free, develop their identities safe, get confirmed by their loving parents, and be encouraged to try themselves in different areas of life. No, they had to fulfill the strict expectations of their parents to avoid harm, show off or be useful to get compliments, or stay quiet to not cause even more difficulties to their already troubled parents.  This way they didn’t have the chance to develop a healthy self-esteem. They learned to believe people only care about them when they are useful or when they are quiet. They developed fears, mental patterns, and unhelpful beliefs. And now they need their praise and appreciation in order to feel good about themselves.

Signs of  people pleasing

  • Low self esteem , feeling of not good enough
  • Need praise to feel good
  • Pretend to agree with everybody, even when not
  • Feel responsible for how other people feel
  • Think to have the power to make others happy or unhappy
  • Hard time recognizing own feelings or choices
  • Lack of self knowledge
  • Apologize a lot, take the blame
  • Can’t say no
  • Avoid conflict
  • Lack of assertiveness

The downside of people pleasing

Even though people pleasers believe that they act out of good intentions, they are empathetic helpful nice people. On the long term they suffer from mental issues. They typically look me up when they feel empty and at the same time exhausted. When they get anxious from all the pressure they put on themselves. When they get abused time after time, because others misuse their boundaries. When instead of getting the praise from others, they are actually treated upset with disrespect.  It happens because they don’t give an honest impression of them, so others misjudge them and cant make a deeper connection with their true self.

How to overcome the patterns

With the help of therapy, there are a few steps to take to break the old patterns.

  1. First it is important to know the underlying past traumas. How the psychological development evolved in the childhood.  Was it “avoiding harm”, “having to show off”, or “ease the tasks of the parents”.
  2. We will examine how your beliefs developed in the adult years, if it got confirmed by repeating unhealthy dynamics
  3. We will recondition your motivation behind the “wanting to help others” and help you understand what your needs are to be able to help others in a healthy way. 
  4. If needed we will work on processing the old traumas to raise self-worth and self compassion
  5. We learn you self-care as the first practice of self-love
  6. We learn you assertive communication and setting boundaries
  7. We learn you skills of conflict management
  8. We strengthen you with dealing with possible rejections
  9. As a result you will step by step feel brave to show yourself to others and make connection with them based on who you really are. You will win their respect and consideration. And you will get their honest compliments. Compliments that confirm your already existing self-appreciation.

Are you interested to follow these steps in my practice, feel free to book an initial talk on my website.

Enikö Hajas

Born into a diplomat family in Hungary, I lived in Vietnam, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal. My lengthy experience of understanding different cultures makes it natural for me to work with any nationalities.

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