People-pleasers appear to be very thoughtful. They will do everything they can to make sure those they love (and even those they don’t) are happy.
At first, this sounds like the ideal person to have in your life! After all, if they are set out to make you happy, who could ask for anything more?
The problem for people-pleasers is when they wear out and run out of “pleasing steam”. What started out as a genuine desire to please others transformed into resentment and even downright anger after a while. The people-pleaser can only please so much before they crack. And some will crack but you’ll never know it. They might be sarcastic and do passive-aggressive behavior, or get angry for seemingly no reason, but there is a reason.
People-pleasers are seen as thoughtful and kind. And they really are, but they are usually looking for reciprocation of some sort. If they make others are happy, they themselves will be happy. They do what they can to please others hoping to receive similar treatment in return (I know this from experience, being a former people-pleaser myself).
However, full reciprocation rarely happens unless they meet another people-pleaser. The challenge there is that people-pleasers rarely gravitate toward each other. That’s because there’s no “feedback mechanism” in place.
A people-pleaser needs to find someone who enjoys attention and being pleased. Many times, this type of person can become dependent on the people-pleaser and enjoy being waited on hand and foot. That’s a slight exaggeration, but not always! Sometimes it’s very true, which is why many people-pleasers build resentment against the “takers” in their lives.
The takers keep taking because the pleasers keep giving. It’s a machine that feeds into itself (feedback mechanism) and it never ends until one of them disconnects and seeks something more for him or herself. Typically, the pleaser has to be the one to detach and let go, because what incentive is there for the taker to do so?
It’s easy to be served, pleased, and have everything taken care of for you. It’s like being treated like royalty. But what does this mean for the people-pleaser? It means they have to come to a realization of one thing:
No matter how much time and energy you put into pleasing others, no one will ever be able to reciprocate at the level at which you please.
In other words, if you please others 90% of the time, you might be pleased by others less than 5% of the time. Why is there such a wide gap in this ratio? Because people-pleasers don’t hang around other people pleasers for one. The other reason is that people-pleasers typically never stop pleasing! They’re always worried about how others feel and never usually focus on their own happiness.
If you spend the majority of your time focused on others’ needs, you will drain yourself of yours and be at an emotional deficit 95% of the time. If you’re a people-pleaser, the math never works in your favor – it only highlights a major issue in your life. For people-pleasers, they have three easy steps to a happy life. Want to know what they are?
The Three-Step People-Pleasers Guide to Happiness:
- If it drains you of your happiness to give your time and energy to others, stop giving now.
- If you have any resentment or anger about giving to others, stop giving now.
- If you are with people that don’t reciprocate, stop giving now.
These aren’t hard and fast, absolute rules, but they paint a bigger picture of how to get beyond the level of draining your emotional bank account. Giving, caring and pleasing others is supposed to come from a purely compassionate and caring place that involves no anger and no resentment.
If that seeps in while you’re giving, then you’re really not giving anything, you’re sacrificing yourself. Sure, sacrifice is noble and bold, but doing it every day with everyone (or many people) you know is a fast track to a breakdown. I know this because I had one about every four years as a people-pleaser.
People-pleasing is learned at a very young age and typically involves a parent or caretaker that got set off easily. The child figures that if they do what they can to please the parent that the parent will be nice to them. When the parent is nice to them after that, the child keeps that “tool” and uses it over and over again with almost everyone they meet. It’s sad because that tool works so well that people-pleasers think there’s nothing else they can do, so they stay that way. Then they wonder why they’re never happy.
If you’re a people-pleaser, you can be happy. But step one is to realize that you don’t have to please all the time. Sometimes just take time for yourself. Honor yourself and give yourself what you need first, even if that means someone might be upset with you. You may have to go extreme and say to yourself, “So what! I can’t please you because I’m pleasing me. Live with it.” It can be hard to jump into that because you’re so used to being who you are.
But you can do this. Don’t spend your life thinking that you have to make everything right for everyone else. Make things right for yourself first. Then, when you have excess compassion and generosity to give, you can make others happy without the expense of losing a part of yourself.
For more on people pleasing, read this article