People pleasing and low self-esteem

The term ‘people pleasing’ sounds so pleasant. It conjures up affability, kindness and a respect for your fellow human beings. What could be wrong with that? Well, quite a lot actually. Because people pleasing tends to go hand in hand with low self-esteem, and the subsequent feelings of frustration and irritation. After all, it’s hard not to be resentful when your own needs are resigned to the backburner, yet again.

Research over the years, found that participants who identified as people pleasers, are more likely to end up in a relationship with a narcissist. And less likely to have a strong sense of self worth. But the big benefit for people pleasers, is that it can make you genuinely popular. You’re someone who’s thought of as sympathetic listener, a reliable pair of hands and lots of fun. No doubt your phone list is full, you’re frequently tagged on Facebook and you’re viewed as a ‘good girl’. Understandably, for some people, that feeling of being loved and needed is a hard one to give up.

So if you’re a people pleaser who’s ready for recovery, then take a look at these tips.

3 ways to overcome people pleasing

1. Set boundaries and practise saying no

People pleasing behaviour will not fall away over the course of a day. And I’ll be honest – it will involve a lot of self awareness and conscious behaviour changes. All of which may feel odd at first. So, one of the best places to begin is by starting small and banking a success. Suggest a restaurant for brunch that you actually like rather than just agreeing with the group. Tell your understanding mother in law that you won’t be able to see her every Sunday because there are other demands on your time. Starting with people who are empathic and easy going will help you build confidence for the bigger stake converstaions. And will help you see yourself as a person with strong boundaries

2. Put your needs on par with others

You’ve probably spent many years looking after friends and family, considering what they need and how you can help them achieve it. And now it’s time to start considering your own goals and desires. No one is saying that your needs are more important that anyone else’s, or that you should do a 180 and start acting like a diva. But your needs are definitely just as important as everyone else’s.

Woman in black jumper, with red nails, holding a cup that says like a boss on it.

If we assume everyone’s equal, then you have just as much right as the next person to voice an opinion, decline an invitation or just say no. But it’s normally through our childhood experiences, that we begin to believe we deserve less than others. Which brings me nicely on to my next point.

3 Consider counselling

A professional people pleaser, who finds subjugating her own needs second nature, will probably do very well in counselling. That’s because people pleasers often develop their affable, agreeable and acquiescent nature in childhood. As a resourceful way of coping with challenging circumstances at the time. Perhaps they had a father with a bad temper, so they developed a sunny, agreeable nature to avoid dangerous conflict. Or if they had a mother who struggled with her mental health, then their own emotional needs really did have to take a back seat. It can be really useful to look at our childhood and get some insight into how our people pleasing started and then developed into a habit over the years. Gaining insight into our people pleasing behaviour, can really be vital in helping us end it.

If you’d like to learn more about People Pleasing and its impact on self-esteem then I can highly recommend On our best Behaviour by Elise Loehnen.

And if you want to share your own experience of overcoming people pleasing then I’d love to hear it. Please just comment below.

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