In our journey to establish meaningful connections and maintain harmonious relationships, many of us fall into the trap of people-pleasing. While seeking approval and acceptance is a natural human instinct, constantly prioritizing others’ needs over our own can lead to an erosion of our authenticity. I experienced this in my marriage to the narcissistic doctor. I tried to make everyone happy and ,in the process, no one was happy, least of all ME! And I completely lost myself in the process. In this blog post, we delve into the behaviors that contribute to people-pleasing and explore the insightful research of psychologists on this matter.
1. Fear of Rejection
One of the primary drivers of people-pleasing behavior is the fear of rejection. Individuals who struggle with this fear often go to great lengths to avoid conflict and maintain a sense of belonging. Unfortunately, this fear can lead to losing touch with our own desires and opinions, as we prioritize avoiding disapproval over expressing our true selves.
Psychologist Dr. Leon F. Seltzer explains, “People-pleasers often believe that their worth is tied to how others perceive them, leading to a constant need for validation and acceptance.”
2. Overwhelming Need for Approval
We live in a society that places considerable emphasis on external validation, and people-pleasers tend to internalize this need for approval to an extreme degree. In their pursuit of validation, they tend to lose sight of their own values, and their actions become driven solely by the desire to please others.
Psychologist Dr. Harriet Braiker, in her book “The Disease to Please,” states, “People-pleasers strive to be everything to everyone, often at the expense of their own well-being, self-esteem, and authenticity.”
3. Difficulty Setting Boundaries
People-pleasers often struggle with setting healthy boundaries due to the fear of disappointing or upsetting others. They find it challenging to say no, even when it compromises their own needs and values. Consequently, they become trapped in a cycle of overcommitment, leading to exhaustion and a diminished sense of self.
Psychologist Dr. Susan Newman suggests, “People-pleasers must learn to prioritize their own needs and set clear boundaries, as this is essential for maintaining authenticity and self-respect.”
4. Lack of Self-Worth
Underlying many people-pleasing behaviors is a deep-seated lack of self-worth. Individuals who struggle with this often seek external validation as a means to compensate for their perceived inadequacies. Unfortunately, this reliance on others’ approval prevents them from developing a genuine sense of self and embracing their true authenticity.
Psychologist Dr. Lisa Firestone notes, “People-pleasers are often driven by an internal critic that constantly undermines their sense of self. Breaking free from this pattern requires building self-compassion and developing a healthier self-image.”
While people-pleasing may initially seem like a selfless and altruistic behavior, it ultimately erodes our authenticity and prevents us from living fully in line with our own values and desires. By understanding the underlying reasons behind people-pleasing, we can begin to break free from its grip. Embracing our authentic selves requires building self-worth, setting boundaries, and learning to prioritize our own needs. Remember, true connection and acceptance come from being genuine, not from constantly seeking validation from others.