The Problem with Being a Pleaser


Are you a pleaser? A pleaser is one who negates his or her own needs for fear of ever letting anyone else down. A pleaser is usually a genuinely nice person, but to a fault.
On the one hand, there is a heartfelt desire to be helpful or facilitative, but on the other, there may be either a fear of disappointing others, or a strong desire to be seen as an amazingly good person.

The pleaser runs into problems. First of all, it is impossible to please everyone all of the time. It is devastating for the pleaser to have someone upset with him or her. This is bound to happen once one is juggling the needs of several people.

Secondly, the pleaser is often dishonest, externally expressing a keen desire to do what others want, but internally wishing there were a way to get out of it. This produces stress and anxiety in the individual, and even resentment towards the one being pleased.

An additional complication occurs when those one has been pleasing come to expect the pleaser to continue to meet their needs. Once expectations are well established, it is even more difficult for the pleaser to say, “No”. Gradually, there is less and less time for oneself, or for one’s family, because the pleaser is too busy looking after everyone else.

Not only can being a pleaser be exhausting, but, in time, resentment sets in. The pleaser is doing everything for everyone else, but who is there for him/her?

The first step in “recovery” is admitting that you are a pleaser. Then, either with introspection, or the help of a therapist, aim to discover how you got to be that way. Self-esteem may be low, and pleasing feeds the ego. One’s sense of worth may be tied into what others think of them.

Next, you need to learn about healthy boundaries, and how to set them for yourself. This is the challenging part, because you need to be honest with others. You have to be able to tell others that you have stretched yourself too thinly, and that you need to begin taking better care of yourself if you are to be any good at all to anyone.

It means communicating to others that you may not always be available, or be able to do, say or be what they want. Those who truly care about you will understand. Those who do not understand, and still expect you to put them first are not healthy for you and are taking advantage of your good nature. If they step out of your life because you are not constantly at their beck and call, that is not such a bad thing!

Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.

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