A people-pleaser is someone who has become stuck within a persona of helpfulness. They are unaware and unconscious that they are wearing a mask, that they are projecting an image of themselves as helpful while all the time, their true feelings about themselves and others remain obscure.
The people pleaser has put the needs of others first, even to the detriment of their own health and well-being. The deeper roots of this is based on a fear of rejection.
Because we never had the sense that we were enough for our parents we have lost our way and been bent out of shape. We have learned that it is better that we cover ourselves up than reveal who we are.
The problem is we have become confused and ashamed about who we are. People pleasers feel guilty if they spend time giving themselves what they need. They cannot say ‘no’ when others ask them to do things for fear of being rejected. The recovering people pleaser has to learn to change all of these ideas and the habits that rest upon them. Their self-esteem will have to be rebuilt and worked on.
The thing that is worth remembering is that it can be done. We can learn to unlearn these destructive ways of living and build more authentic and satisfying lives and relationships.
However daunting the task of finding ourselves appears, particularly when we have spent our lives covering it up, connecting with the truth of ourselves, our wants, our needs is powerful. It is like coming home.
The recovering people pleaser has to put their recovery and themselves first, and they have to try to do this on a daily basis.
This is why therapy plus attending co-dependency anonymous meetings can provide a space where we can not only explore the deep-seated reasons behind us becoming people-pleasers, but we can also share our stories and struggles with other people in our position. In this way, we can start to learn, and try to stick to, better habits. And we can do so ‘one day at a time.’
A 180-degree change of direction
Recovering from the position of being a people pleaser amounts to a 180-degree change of direction. Instead of always putting the needs of others first, a recovering people pleaser starts to learn how to put what they want first. This is challenging, particularly if you have spent long periods of your life making sure that you are secondary and that other people always come first.
People pleasing is often something that has been with us all our lives. We may have learned from our earliest interactions with our parents that giving them what they wanted made them feel better and that we liked to make them feel better. In this way, we were set on the path of becoming overly compliant. We put our own needs into the shadows and concentrated on what the other person wanted, and after a while we no longer had any sense that this is what wanted or we were doing. The mask was now in place.
Psychotherapy and the Recovering People Pleaser
Psychotherapy can be challenging for a recovering people pleaser because it aims to go beyond the predictable behavioural style that dominates the person, and to make room for the authentic and unknown sides of the person. It takes care and commitment.
Important life choices may have been made while the people pleaser was caught in the position of always trying to be good for the other person. In the longer term, this is often a recipe for disaster. Instead of a life resting on the strong foundations of true and authentic choices, the opposite occurs. This leads to great potential for collapse and breakdown later in life. The people pleaser has become conditioned, they have abandoned themselves and their true sense of value.
A recovering people pleaser must come to terms with the sense that other people are beyond their control.
A recovering people pleaser has to understand more about what is true and valuable to them. They need to unlearn the life habits built upon faulty people-pleasing logic, often these habits were learned and reinforced during our early years. Now we need to learn to give to ourselves, not just to the people around us.
We must learn to tend to the internal sense of what is empty and lacking in us before we look after other people.
This is the crux of the faulty logic of the people pleaser
The people pleaser learned that it was more important to look after others than to pay attention to their own needs. The more they could concentrate on what other people needed the better everything would be.
Having the chance to speak in a confidential setting is often key to developing a clearer understanding of who we are and how we developed our habit, our compulsion to people please.
By giving yourself a safe space to look at these things you may start to discover a greater sense of possibilities, and this may be the beginning of developing a greater sense of understanding how to relate to yourself and to people around you.
The chance to reflect on ourselves, our feelings and experience can be powerful and transformative. Out of this, you may be able to develop a clearer understanding of how you and your sense of your problems have developed.
I have been working with people on issues such like this for more than twenty years. My work is built around helping you to develop greater insight into who you are, and how you live.
Contact me to arrange a free telephone consultation to discuss how my approach might help you.
Mobile: +44 7980 750376