Are you a people lover?
It’s okay, you can tell me. I only ask because I know I have this tendency myself.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting everyone to be happy, right?
Of course not.
Well, unless, by trying to make everyone else happy, you do some harm to yourself in the process.
People pleasing can come from genuine care and compassion for others. But in practice it more often arises from somewhat selfish motives.
Many people who don’t feel good about themselves will turn outward for the validation they can’t get internally. To feel validated, they try to get attention and praise from others by doing them favors and suppressing their own feelings and desires to put those of others first.
However, it rarely turns out that way.
In fact, people with low self-esteem often exhibit these eight people-pleasing behaviors, and most of them can actually be quite harmful to themselves.
1) Say yes to everything
One of the clearest signs of people pleasers is that they say yes to just about everything that comes their way.
These are the typical “yes men” that many people like to surround themselves with so that their ideas and suggestions are constantly reinforced.
While this type of behavior can make people seem agreeable, friendly, and group-oriented, we rarely see what it does to the person who says all that yes.
If you agree with everything, you are certainly not being true to yourself. You can’t always think what other people say is right, nor can you always share their opinions.
So if you chronically say yes or agree, you are rejecting your own ideas and pushing your true self into the background.
The other problem is that you end up just playing the role of a follower.
You get used to the people who like you to be around and agree with them. They ultimately see you as a tool for their own self-expression, while yours is suppressed.
So how will this behavior ever make you feel better about yourself?
2) Avoiding conflict
If you say yes to everything, you will of course never disagree or argue with anyone else.
But of course you want that.
People-pleasers are known for avoiding conflict because they would rather not express themselves than have to deal with someone else and cause friction.
They always want everything to go smoothly and would much rather sacrifice their own feelings if it means greater social cohesion.
Isn’t that nice?
Well, it’s fun for everyone except the people who like it themselves.
What this means for them is that they don’t value their own opinions and feelings enough to stand up for them or put them in the spotlight.
And every time they choose to avoid conflict instead of standing up for something they feel strongly about, they reinforce this feeling of low self-worth.
Some people never apologize.
They are seen as rude, arrogant, selfish and lacking in introspection.
I mean, it’s impossible for someone to be right and always do the right thing, right?
So what about people who apologize so quickly that it seems like they do it all the time?
They can be seen as overly shy and meek. People tend to view chronic apologizers as weak and even pathetic.
A balanced person is expected to be able to reflect on his own actions and take responsibility for the things he does wrong, such as making mistakes or hurting others. This is the time when you need to apologize, right?
But when you apologize for things that aren’t your fault or even have nothing to do with you, you’re doing so in an inauthentic way. You’re trying too hard to please people and keep things running smoothly by offering yourself as a scapegoat.
But do you know what happens to scapegoats?
They are blamed for everything and are expelled from their social circles.
This is definitely not something that will make your life happier.
4) Going along with the group
You will always see human friends who go along with the group they belong to, or at least try to fit in.
How should I know that?
This is something I did a lot myself.
I’ve gotten myself into trouble several times because I didn’t stick to what I thought I should do, but instead followed others into trouble.
One time I was with friends from high school and we decided to visit our old elementary school. I don’t know why anymore.
It was the weekend, so of course it was closed. Right?
Finally, we were walking through the school and someone noticed that a set of double doors were chained shut. I think the locks were broken so they chained them down, except when we pulled it the opening was just big enough for us to slip through.
The others wanted to sneak in and while I really didn’t. It seemed like a great way to get into trouble. But I have not argued my position. They all slipped in and I followed them.
They ran around screaming and knocking things over until they suddenly came face to face with two guards.
In the end, most of us escaped, but two of my friends were caught and arrested. That could easily have happened to me too, all because I wanted it to please the others by going with them against my better judgment.
5) Not enforcing boundaries
People with low self-esteem have great difficulty setting and maintaining personal boundaries.
These boundaries are the boundaries that you do not want to cross, or that you do not allow others to cross.
That may mean drawing a line between things you would and would not find morally comfortable. It may also mean limiting the personal information you share with others.
Boundaries are important because they help you maintain a respectful sense of self and also prevent others from taking advantage of you.
But if you have low self-esteem, you may have difficulty pushing these boundaries.
So people will ask you to do things that you’re not comfortable with, and you’ll do them anyway. Or they interfere with your private affairs because you do not feel authorized enough to deny people access.
6) Making sacrifices
I’m not specifically talking about spraying chicken blood on an altar.
I mean, you can do that if you want, but I’m not sure how many people it will make happy at all.
The sacrifices I mean are personal sacrifices.
People pleasers almost always sacrifice their own needs and happiness when they have to choose between themselves and others.
This may sound kind and selfless, but it is only if you have enough strength to make these sacrifices of your own accord.
Yew you feel pressured or expected to make them, then it is no longer good for you.
If you say yes to everything and nothing (not a thing!), how will you ever have time for yourself again?
This happens all the time to people pleasers.
They have their normal obligations in the background, and then other people start adding more on top of it.
They are asked to stay late at work or take projects home. They are asked to perform favors that take up a lot of their time.
And because they don’t have good manners to stand up for themselves and advocate for themselves, they can end up being wiped out and burned out by all they do for others.
8) Gift giving
Gift giving is a wonderful thing to do, but it is also a complex social behavior with unique rules.
What kind of rules, you ask?
Well, things like you should give people gifts to celebrate their important events, and you should get gifts for people that they could realistically reciprocate.
You should also get gifts for people that they will appreciate and that won’t make them feel weird.
Tea problem many people-pleasers is that although they enjoy giving gifts, they break many of these rules.
They can give gifts that have nothing to do with a special day or achievement in someone’s life, and these are often seen as gifts to snack on.
They may give people gifts that are overly extravagant to attract attention or make someone feel special. However, this places an obligation on the other person to reciprocate and can make him or her feel worse instead of happier.
Many of these gifts end up being seen as attempts to “buy friends” rather than simply strengthening existing relationships, as gift giving should do.
People with low self-esteem often engage in these eight people-pleasing behaviors because they think others will like them more, or because they simply can’t help it.
But they are almost always used and trampled upon instead of receiving the validation they crave. And their self-esteem suffers instead of improving.
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