What is People Pleasing and Where Does it Come From?

People-pleasing is a term used to describe someone who tends to put the needs of others before their own. It can be hard to recognize when our behavior falls into this pattern, as often, people-pleasers don't realize that they are putting their needs on the back burner to make everyone else happy.

Traits of a People-Pleaser

The following traits often characterize people pleasers:

  • They feel an intense need to please others; they may accept tasks or responsibilities without being asked or agree to things even when they don't want to do them.
  • They have difficulty saying "no"; even if something isn't right for them, they will still do it out of fear of disappointing another person.
  • They may go out of their way to ensure everyone around them is happy and content while they suffer in silence.
  • They may feel taken advantage of; people-pleasers tend not to ask for help from others even when they need it because they don't want to impose it on others.

Where People-Pleasing Comes From

These traits can come from various sources, including fear of rejection, low self-esteem, insecurity about one's abilities and worthiness, and the need for love and approval from others. All these feelings can be rooted in childhood experiences such as overbearing parents or peers who were unkind or dismissive towards them.

These behaviors and thoughts can continue into adulthood, but with a new twist - instead of pleasing their parents or peers directly - people pleasers now focus more on pleasing most everyone around them at work, in relationships, etc., which can lead to feeling drained and unfulfilled.

If you identify as a people pleaser (or think you might be one), know that therapy can help. Working with a therapist can help you recognize how your behavior patterns affect your relationships personally and professionally so that you can begin making positive changes in your life.

Diane K. Schmidt Counseling Services | 8575 W. 110th Street, Suite 304 Overland Park, KS 66210 | Phone: 913.730.6778 | Email: diane@dkschmidtcounseling.com