Do you constantly put others’ needs before your own? Do you struggle to say no, even when you really want to? If so, you may be caught in the trap of people pleasing. People pleasing is a common behavior that can stem from a variety of underlying causes, such as low self-esteem, a fear of rejection, or a desire for validation.
When you are eager to please others, it’s key to explore the root causes in more depth. By knowing the underlying source, you can gain a deeper understanding of this behavior and make positive changes in your life.
People pleasing behavior is exhausting! It drains your energy and causes your self-esteem to diminish. This does not just affect your self-esteem, but your physical and emotional well-being as well. It doesn’t have to remain this way—it is possible to break free from the cycle of people pleasing!
What is people pleasing?
When you are a people pleaser, you prioritize the needs and wants of others over your own. It often involves saying yes when you really want to say no. Other symptoms are avoiding conflict and seeking validation or approval from others.
While on the surface, people pleasing may seem like a positive trait-after all (who doesn’t want to be kind and helpful to others?), it can actually be quite damaging to your own well-being. Constantly putting others first can lead to feelings of resentment, burnout, and a loss of self-identity.
There’s a difference between being considerate to others and people pleasing. Being a kind and caring person is a positive trait, but people pleasing takes things to an unhealthy extreme. There is a danger in being a people-pleaser. Instead of simply being kind, people pleasers feel a deep-seated need to make others happy. This is often at the expense of their own needs and desires. If they can’t please others, they feel empty and rejected.
People pleasing can show in many ways, such as saying yes to too many commitments, apologizing excessively, or putting up with mistreatment from others. A range of emotions can also accompany it, such as anxiety, guilt, and fear of rejection. If you exhibit any of these behaviors or emotions regularly, it’s worth examining whether you may struggle with people pleasing.
Why do we people please?
Many people around the globe have a powerful urge to please others above themselves. They keep doing it even though it drains their energy, self-esteem, and happiness. It seems difficult to stop doing it, however, with conscious efforts, it is possible to stop people pleasing.
Why is it difficult to simply stop doing it? Because people pleasing is a complex behavior that can stem from a variety of underlying issues, and often there is not just one cause for the people pleasing behavior. Some common causes are:
- Low self-esteem: People with low self-esteem struggle to assert themselves or believe that their own needs and desires are important. By constantly putting others first, they may feel like they’re earning the approval and validation they crave. It works as a cycle.
- Fear of rejection: People who fear rejection may go to great lengths to avoid conflict or upsetting others, even if it means sacrificing their own happiness. They may worry that if they don’t constantly please others, they’ll face rejection or abandonment.
- Desire for control: People pleasers may feel like they need to be in control of situations or relationships, and the best way to maintain control is to keep others happy. By constantly putting others first, they may feel like they’re avoiding conflict and keeping things under control. Usually, this behavior is a sign of deep feelings of insecurity.
- Lack of boundaries: People who struggle with setting boundaries may say yes to things they don’t want to do or let others mistreat them, all in an effort to avoid conflict or maintain relationships. Also, when your parents raised you without boundaries, most likely you will find it difficult to set boundaries in your adult life.
- Cultural or familial expectations: Some people may have grown up in cultures or families where pleasing others was highly valued, and this behavior became ingrained over time.
A combination of these factors can be the influence of engaging in people pleasing, and each person’s experience may be unique. However, by understanding some of the underlying causes of people pleasing, you can start to recognize patterns in your own behavior and work towards making positive changes. With time and effort, it is possible to make a lasting change in your life and to learn to put yourself first in a healthy way.
This requires a mindset change, as people pleasing starts in our minds (the way we think about ourselves and look at others). A major part of stopping to please others is to change your mindset from negative to positive.
What is the root cause of being a people pleaser?
The root cause of being a people pleaser varies from person to person, and often there are more reasons for the behavior. Even though several roots can cause the ongoing desire to please others, usually the principal cause is having low self-confidence. Once you understand that this is limiting your happiness and personal growth, you can take the steps to become more confident in yourself.
As much as every person is different, we can still find some common triggers. Some frequent root causes of people pleasing include:
- Childhood experiences: Many people who struggle with people pleasing tendencies may have experienced a traumatic event, neglect, or abuse in childhood that led them to believe that their needs and wants were not important. As a result, they may have learned to prioritize the needs of others over their own in order to feel safe and valued.
- Social conditioning: Society often reinforces the idea that being kind and accommodating to others is virtuous, especially if you are a woman. While being assertive or putting yourself first is seen as selfish or rude. This messaging is particularly strong for women, who are often socialized to prioritize the needs of others over their own. As a result, many women believe that they themselves don’t matter and that all their focus must be on taking care of others.
- Fear of rejection or abandonment: People pleasers may be driven by a fear of rejection or abandonment and believe that their personal worth is tied to how much they can please others. Childhood experiences, relationships, or other life events can lead to this belief being reinforced.
- Low self-esteem: People who struggle with low self-esteem may feel like they need to please others constantly, in order to earn their approval and feel valuable. They may believe that their own needs and desires are not important and that they must always put others first in order to be accepted.
It’s essential to understand that the source of people pleasing is complex and multifaceted, and each person’s experience is unique. However, by exploring the underlying beliefs and experiences that drive people pleasing behavior, you can develop a better understanding of yourself and work towards making positive changes.
What causes people pleaser personality?
People pleaser personality is a term used to describe individuals who consistently prioritize the needs and desires of others over their own. It is like a label for your behavior. Once this tag is stuck on you, it is difficult to stop, as your environment also expects you to behave in a certain way. You feel the urge, and others expect it, reinforcing your behavior. It is a cycle of people pleasing behavior. This results in getting a people pleaser personality.
It is vital to know that you weren’t born this way. God did not create you to please others, he created you to please Him. He also doesn’t want you to look down on yourself. He loves you, so He wants you to love and respect yourself as well. When you have a people pleaser personality over time, you have lost sight of how God created you—unique, perfect, worthy, and capable.
Having a “people pleaser” personality means you feel a strong urge to please others, even at your own expense. You believe your wants and needs don’t matter or alter your personality around others. This has evolved over time, you are not wired to be a people pleaser. Then what causes the personality? This behavior can stem from a variety of underlying causes, including:
- Fear of rejection or disapproval: People pleasers may feel like they need to constantly please others in order to avoid being rejected or disapproved of. This fear may stem from experiences or a deep-seated belief that their worth as a person is tied to how much they can please others.
- Low self-esteem: People with low self-esteem may struggle to assert themselves or believe that their own needs and desires are important. By constantly putting others first, they may feel like they’re earning the approval and validation they crave.
- Lack of assertiveness skills: People who struggle with assertiveness skills may find it difficult to express their own needs and desires in a healthy way. This can lead to a pattern of constantly pleasing others and avoiding conflict, in an effort to maintain relationships and avoid upsetting others.
- Cultural or familial expectations: People may have grown up in cultures or families where pleasing others was highly valued, and this behavior became ingrained over time.
- Co-dependency: People pleasers may struggle with co-dependency, which is characterized by an excessive emotional or psychological reliance on others. Co-dependent individuals may feel like they need to constantly please others in order to feel secure and maintain relationships.
It’s critical to recognize that the people pleaser personality can be shaped by a mix of these elements, and everyone’s situation is unique. However, by understanding some of the underlying causes of people pleaser personality, you become aware of the patterns of your behavior and can work on improving them.
People pleasing behavior can be driven by a variety of underlying causes, including childhood experiences, social conditioning, fear of rejection, low self-esteem, lack of assertiveness skills, cultural or familial expectations, and co-dependency.
By understanding the root causes of people pleasing, you can recognize patterns in your own behavior and make positive, lasting changes.
It’s important to remember that people pleasing behavior is not inherently bad, and it can be a helpful and positive trait in certain situations. However, when it becomes a pattern of constantly putting others’ needs ahead of your own, it can lead to feelings of burnout, resentment, and a lack of fulfillment.
By learning to prioritize your own needs and desires, developing healthy assertiveness skills, and setting boundaries, you can break the cycle of people pleasing and create a more fulfilling and balanced life.
Christel Owoo is a professional Life Coach, passionate about helping women gain confidence.
Do you want to gain confidence in life and live fully in your God-given potential?