Reaching out and practicing the art of selflessness is a great way to self-actualize. In fact, going beyond the ego and self-absorbed tendencies can be a fulfilling and freeing experience that can change your life forever. When you have a strong desire to spread kindness and make others happy, you learn to expand your consciousness. In other words, you become a better person when you create positive changes. But, kindness is often confused with pleasing others. There’s a difference between being kind and being too kind on a regular basis.
On one hand, you can be kind out of the goodness of your heart. But, if you choose to be nice because you’re reluctant to turn down someone’s request for a favor out of fear of being “selfish” or “mean,” then your kindness comes from a place of deep-seated insecurity, rather than a way of self-actualizing. According to family and marriage therapist Darlene Lancer, people pleasing habits are often formed during childhood. If you feel like you always had to accommodate to others, it may have stemmed from your parents’ high expectations, criticisms, and rigid rules. This also applies if you grew up with parents who withheld love from you and practiced unfair and unpredictable ways of disciplining you.
Habits, such as people-pleasing, formed from a difficult past are not your fault, because they were a way of self-protection. But, we hope to shed light on what to recognize, so that we can help you break out of patterns and routines that hold you back. Psych2Go shares with you 7 signs you may be a people pleaser:
1. You’re eager to agree with others, even if that means pretending.
Listening openly to others’ opinions even when you don’t always agree with them is a great communication skill to have. But, if you also find yourself quick to agree with others when you’re actually pretending, then you may be caught in the act of people-pleasing. You can be doing it out of fear of disapproval or a desire to fit in. This tendency gives others the impression that you don’t have any opinions of your own or that you can be easily led by others’ way of thinking. This isn’t true. Realize that you may have grown up in a household where your opinions weren’t valid, so you had to step down to win your parents’ approval. More importantly, know that you deserve better.
2. You feel responsible for how other people feel.
We all have the power to influence others based on the behaviors we exhibit and the actions we take. But, we don’t have the power to necessarily make someone happy all of the time. If you take part in pleasing others, you may often think you’re an exception to that reality. So, you find yourself wanting to save others from their misery, because it makes you feel important. In this case, you want to be a hero, not necessarily because it’s brave and noble. But you do it, mainly for believing that you have control over the situation. In extreme cases, you may even feel like you’re responsible for upsetting others when those negative feelings were already experienced without you entering the picture yet.
3. You apologize a lot and you’re hyper-alert to the slightest bit of criticism.
You tell people that you’re sorry, even if you aren’t fully at fault. But you take all the blame anyway, because that’s what you’re used to doing starting at a young age. You might have always considered apologizing as a form of compromising, not realizing that your parents never met you halfway with their inconsiderate ways of discipline. You may also be sensitive to even the slightest bit of criticism and feel as though you’ve let someone down with the mistakes you’ve made. When you’re concerned with pleasing others, you often prioritize their opinions. This makes it makes it difficult to humanize yourself within the process.
4. It’s challenging for you to say no.
When you’re concerned with pleasing others, you put everyone else’s needs before your own. You may find that your schedule consists of accommodating to the needs, requests, and favors of others that overlaps with the time you typically use to focus on your goals and get your own share of work done. It’s hard for you to say no because you may have grown up in a household that didn’t set healthy boundaries. When you want to please others, saying no seems too harsh and you’re afraid that it’ll come off as a full-blown rejection. So, you find yourself adapting and bending your ways. You say yes all the time, because you don’t want to risk hurting someone’s feelings. The guilt eats you up too much if you don’t.
5. You can’t stand the thought of someone being angry with you, so you try to avoid conflict at all costs.
When someone is angry at you, it doesn’t necessarily mean you were at fault or did anything wrong. But when you’re a people pleaser, it’s easy to jump to that conclusion and not cut yourself any slack. As a result, you go to great lengths to avoid conflict. You’re afraid to speak up or stand up for yourself because it means interrupting peace. Anger scares the hell out of you because you may have grew up in an environment where your parents used it as a weapon to assert their dominance. So, you lay low and put yourself in a position where you bury your own troubles if it means keeping things on the surface from exploding.
6. You find it difficult to relax and have the need to keep yourself busy in order to feel worthwhile.
You believe that your own self worth relies on your productivity. Unless you are working hard towards something, there’s nothing else that comes close to defining who you are. You find that you have workaholic tendencies. They may stem from having parents who value your work ethic above everything else. You learned that working hard was a way to gain their love and approval, so you don’t feel at ease unless you’re actively doing something. But, you put yourself in a position where you burn out easily. Taking care of your health comes second on your priority list. As a result, you often find yourself stressed, but it’s harder for you to get yourself out of the cycle than putting work down.
7. It’s difficult for you to let others know you are hurting.
And it’s hard, mainly because you can’t forgive yourself. You often find yourself in denial. You’d rather pretend that everything is okay instead of admitting that you’re hurting or that you need help, because you’re afraid of what people may think. As a result, your relationships with others aren’t as deep. You keep them in the shallow end where it feels safe when you can touch the ground. You know you’re robbing yourself of authentic connections, but you have a hard time being vulnerable.
Do you agree with these signs? Would you consider yourself a people pleaser? Psych2Go would love to hear your thoughts! Please be sure to leave a comment down below!
If you enjoyed this article, you may also like 7 Ways to Stop Being a People Pleaser from Psych2Go.
Davies, N. (2012, June 5). The People Pleaser Personality. Health Psychology Consultancy. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
Lancer, D. (2014). Are You a People-Pleaser? Psych Central. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
Morin, A. (2017, August 23). 10 Signs You’re a People-Pleaser. Psychology Today. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
Ross, G. (2017). 10 Traits of Self-Actualized People. Wisdom Times. Retrieved December 5, 2017.