How often have you found yourself agreeing to something you don’t really want to do? Or found yourself saying you think the other person has a point when you can’t actually see it? If the answer is ‘yes’ you might be a people pleaser.
Ordinarily the above examples do not cause an issue until the moment when a person is so desperate to be accepted he compromises not just on what he says, thinks or feels but on who he is in an effort to be acceptable to another. This leads to a feeling of being lost, ‘I don’t know who I am,’ is a phrase often used.
The fundamental issue for people pleasers is their need for love. It may be that when growing up they felt abandoned at some level, real or otherwise. Boarding school, alcoholic parents, abusive relationships can all contribute to a child desperately trying to get parental approval. If a child picks up that the parent approves of children who are ‘good’ that is what he tries to become. Super good. A Super pleaser. So much so that he no longer knows what he likes or dislikes and appears happy to go along with anything in an effort to become perfect and to please. The trouble is perfection is not possible and so underneath this behaviour lies fear, a fear that he will be found out for not being good enough, even though he feels he cannot do any more. This often shows itself defensively as anger, and ironically, he may even end up pushing away the person he loves in a belief that he is unlovable; he oscillates between a desperate need to be loved and a desperate fear of being unlovable.
How can this be changed?
I will continue with this theme next week.