Written by Marissa Halstead
Although people pleasing is not a clinical term, many people find themselves with people pleasing tendencies. People pleasing is when someone’s main goal is to appease others, often ignoring their own desires or calling in the process. In relationships, people pleasers do what they think they need to do to be loved and accepted, at the expense of developing and expressing themselves as God made them. We’re more likely to exhibit people-pleasing behaviors when we feel as though we don’t belong.
A distinguishing factor between someone who is a people pleaser and someone who is simply just doing an act of kindness is that people pleasing is difficult to stop. A people pleaser will change parts of his or herself to meet the perceived needs of the other person. People pleasing comes along with the need to be needed and a desire to feel useful to the other person.
Examples of people pleasing include:
- Difficulty saying no
- Taking on extra, unnecessary work
- Does not advocate for his or herself
- Rarely voices his or her own opinion to avoid conflict
- Go with the flow of what others want, even if they disagree or do not want to
Along with the need to people please, a people pleaser might also feel:
- Pressure to always be nice and friendly
- Anxious about standing up for his or herself
- Stressed due to overcommitting
- That his or her own needs are not valued
- A sense that they are being taken advantage of
If you see any of these tendencies in yourself, you might be asking, “How did this happen?” There are many causes for someone to have people pleasing tendencies. Some of the most common include conflict avoidance, anxiety, and low self-esteem. When someone is afraid of conflict, there is an avoidance of it at all cost. People pleasing seems to keep the peace. For others, there might be anxiety surrounding rejection or causing offense. People who struggle with social anxiety might naturally people please to go along with whatever their friends and peers are doing. Lastly, others people please due to low self-esteem. When someone has low self-esteem, he or she might feel like they are worth less than others. They might feel as if their needs are unimportant or insignificant compared to other people they are around. Other signs of low self-esteem are the lack of awareness of what their needs are. Someone cannot advocate for their needs when they do not even know what their needs are.
The path forward from people pleasing is developing a whole, healthy self. Learning how God created your personality, believing that you are loved by and important to God, living into the God-given calling and purpose for your life, are all solid starts. All the while, you would be developing external and internal skills that keep you moving toward healthy relationships and a God-pleasing life.