How People Pleasing Hurts Other People

by | Apr 10, 2021 |

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Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?

People-pleasing should… please people. Right?

We all know at least one People Pleaser, that person that smiles 24/7 no matter their actual feelings inside, says yes more than no to avoid “disappointing people,” overextends themselves by juggling their lives and taking on the needs of everyone around them, equally avoiding situations that could mean others might not accept them. 

They play life safe because their confidence is contingent on other people’s validation. They are the nicest people you will meet but suffer from low self-esteem and lack of self-worth.

Common scripts of a People Pleaser:

“I feel bad; I don’t want to say no.”
“Sure, I can do that.”
“I’m easy.”
“No problem.”
“I feel guilty.”
“No worries.”
“I’m ok, don’t worry about me.”

If they were a neon sign, it would flash, “Like me. Like me. Please like me.” Many people-pleasers confuse pleasing people with kindness. They say things like, “I don’t want to be selfish,” or “I just want to be a good person.”

When it comes to People Pleasing, the individual will abandon themselves in the process of taking on everyone else’s needs. Even needs that aren’t real. Needs that the people pleaser assumes but never validates with the actual people in front of them. They end up abandoning the people they are trying to please by assuming and projecting on them rather than communicating, listening, and collaborating.

People pleasers weave a web of sweet, sugar-coated white lies to avoid conflict. This can lead to trust issues with primary relationships over time. Not to mention the erosion of the people pleaser’s sense of personal worth and value by constantly putting others first, even those with minimal significance in their world, and would never return the favor.

People Pleasers “try” not to hurt other people by covering up their discomfort with any conflict whatsoever. They seem to think they are responsible for how other people feel and will contort themselves to try and make things better, and if that doesn’t work, they will avoid and pretend.

What People Pleasers miss out on is the wonderful concept of trusting themselves and others. 

If they let themselves, they could speak their truth and enjoy even closer, healthier relationships where both people get to be themselves and communicate their needs and differences accordingly. This is what a relationship should be like. Two separate people being themselves together.   

People pleasers are so busy trying hard to make it easy for people to like them; they never give people credit for liking them no matter what they do or do not do. AKA actually accepting them for who they are. Sadly, they do not think that is an option. They do not really let people in because, deep down, they are afraid when their people-pleasing dance is over, people will not like them. It is a sad state of affairs because people pleasers by nature are wonderful, giving, loving people until their efforts do more damage than good.

Storytime

I am writing about this today because I got hurt by a people-pleaser. There is a friend I have. We were spending time together walking once or twice every few weeks. For some reason, our walking times dwindled, and it became harder to plan a time that worked. I received various responses of unavailability. Eventually, when I brought up walking, she would say she was only free on weekends now, her schedule was too erratic from work during the week, and she just gets it in between other tasks. I completely understood; I do the same thing as an entrepreneur.

Today, we went on a weekend walk. It was a welcome sunny day after weeks of snow, and more snow and grey, dreary, blah weather- can you tell I am not a winter person?

I was excited to spend time with my friend and chat and have social time walking in the sun.

She invited another mutual friend I didn’t know as well, and I was amenable to her joining, even though I had some more personal things I was looking forward to gal-pal chatting about. I figured the more, the merrier. Let’s do this.

While we were walking, the other friend mentioned in conversation how she and my friend’s “daily evening walks” keep her sane. 

I kept listening, nodding politely with my own people-pleaser tendencies in full effect while realizing simultaneously the multiple occasions I was told various other reasons my friend was unavailable. I got that warm, icky feeling in my stomach that was a mixture of confusion and embarrassment. I was kept in the dark about something so silly.

I was lied to. 

It did not feel good. Not one bit.

There was truly no reason to hide the information. I wouldn’t have received being told, “I walk with Melissa on evenings,” as a shutdown, or in any way a form of rejection. 

And yet, I was lied to instead of being told the healthy, honest, understandable, non-inflammatory truth. We all have our people, and we all share various degrees of priority based on the depth of certain key relationships. Totally healthy and completely understandable.

That being said, I knew my friend had issues with people-pleasing, and for some reason, she chose not to be honest and straight with me about her real plans and availability. She decided I was incapable of receiving the truth and wove a fructose-laden fib instead.

The problem here is in her attempt to “not hurt my feelings” – she lied – and then I felt embarrassed, confused, and hurt when I would never have had negative feelings at all if she was just honest and straight with me about her plans in the first place.

I didn’t feel trusted, and I felt hurt.

People-pleasing hurts people.

It also hurts the people, pleasers, slowly over time, chinking away at their integrity and self-worth. 

It hurts other people when they are not trusted to be mature enough to hear someone’s truth and accept that truth while at the same time communicating their own.

Here are my final thoughts about People Pleasers and why it just doesn’t work to assume someone else’s needs and emotional ability without actually communicating with honesty.

People Pleasing doesn’t Create Real Peace.

Peacekeeping is only peaceful if there is transparency, honesty, and truth.

Here’s what I would like my friend to know:

1.  Value yourself

People pleasers swallow their own opinions and needs in an attempt to “make sure everything is ok.” Instead of hiding behind smiles all the time, let people in! Trust them to love you. And if they don’t accept you, that is great information to know to figure out who to give your time and attention.

You matter, let people see you, and trust that you are enough. Prioritize the people who are your people and don’t think so much about what other people think. It’s a waste of your one precious life.

2. White Lies will turn Red if used too often

Over time, all the attempts to juggle others’ needs and not be straight about the truth will tarnish your relationships. The people-pleaser will eventually not trust others because you yourself aren’t always clear and straightforward. This will feed feelings of insecurity and lack of self-trust.

3. Give the people in your life more credit

Don’t tell people what they want to hear. It is a bit of an insult, actually. Unless you are in politics, be honest with the people in your life. Most people would not want to be lied to and want to know the truth instead. Other people have the capacity to manage their own emotions. You are not responsible for another person’s emotions.

Note: Use discernment, as some people do take things personally and aren’t very emotionally mature. 

4. Re-wire your mind

Repeat after me, 

“I am loved and accepted, no matter what I do or do not do.”

“I am not the epicenter of people’s feelings; I am not solely responsible for other people’s feelings.”

“I am a likable person, even if there are disagreements.”

“People are allowed to be angry, and that doesn’t mean I am not loveable.”

“No doesn’t mean ‘never’ or ‘I don’t like you. Conflict doesn’t mean the end of the world.” 

Allow yourself to grow up your mind and free yourself of the inner prison of always needing to be liked and running your life based on other people’s supposed needs. 

5. Don’t abandon yourself in order to be liked

You have one life to be you. Let people like you for who you are, and trust that you will receive as much as you give if you let go, trust, have the courage to speak and let people see the real you. 

Your presence is enough. Be who you really are with people, and they will feel your genuine presence. 

Ironically, that combination is incredibly, authentically, likable.

Jenna Smith

Jenna Smith is a “Human Being Expert.” She has trained in Spiritual Psychotherapy at the Transformational Arts College and Integrated Psychotherapy at Lifespace. She is a certified Ontological Coach, Reiki Master, as well as a health and fitness trainer. She has also studied Oneness, Shamanism, and Intuitive healing work with mentors from Peru, India, Africa, Ireland, and North America.

An in-demand international speaker, professional singer, retreat leader, workshop facilitator, author, and coach, Jenna is your one-stop-shop for results that last a lifetime.

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