People Pleasers Are What?

by | Mar 24, 2024 | Eclectic, Reflections, Self Worth

The other day I read these words…“People pleasers are trying to control how other people see them”…and if I am to be genuine with myself and with you, the words stung and have been ruminating through the thicket of my mind ever since.

You see, I am a people pleaser and the word ‘control’ struck me like an arrow through the heart. Could it be true? Could I be, when I slip into my default people-pleaser, controlling how people view me? As a people pleaser, what I know about people pleasing is that it comes from a place of fear. Fearing judgment, fearing ridicule, fearing confrontation and fearing ostracism. In my rumination, I accept that the people-pleaser aspect within is attempting to protect me, to keep me safe from the perceived potentiality of judgment, ridicule, confrontation and or ostracism coming my way. To reflect deeper on that means that one must genuinely conclude, no matter how uncomfortable, that beneath the surface of fear and protection is a sense of control. Controlling how we are perceived, how we are interacted with and perhaps even the impact that others have on us.

Now, and from a personal perspective, the idea of controlling others in this way created a deep-seated discomfort within my being, hence, feeling into the genuineness of the statement, analysing it from my perspective, and accepting what resonated and what did not. This is where the value of looking outside of the constraints of your narrative, taught or self-discovered, is highlighted. I have never considered the people pleaser as a controlling aspect. Instead, I viewed it as a personal weakness, a weakness that denoted my inner strength, my confidence and even the convictions of my knowledge. Viewing it as something else, as uncomfortable as that idea was, has opened my world up to further exploration and discovery of how to create distance between my genuine being and the aspect I hold that is called the people pleaser.

Control. I do not enjoy controlling anyone in any given situation. I much prefer people come to their own understandings, have their own experiences, and learn and grow through rumination, conscious consideration, and enhanced self-awareness. So, I am shocked at the thought of controlling how people perceive me in certain situations but I get it. I see how the people pleaser is controlling how they are seen. Of course they are, out of fear, out of protection, yes, but control it is. My sense and personal experience point to control being an aspect that supports avoidance, avoidance of all the things we are afraid of experiencing, and that will take me deeper into the folds of rumination and conscious consideration that will lead to decreasing the invocation of the people pleaser.

As a psychotherapist in the making, what I know about people pleasing is this: People pleasing is rooted in childhood experiences and can be a result of conditional love, fear of rejection, and low self-esteem.

Signs of a people pleaser in action are difficulty in saying no, people-centric decisions, excessive apologising, and the social chameleon.

There are downsides to people-pleasing as it is one of the key factors in burnout, and can invoke resentment, exploitation, loss of self, and imply weak boundaries.

Fear not though, breaking free of the people-pleaser aspect can be assisted with actions and practices such as identifying our triggers, practising self-compassion, developing assertive communication, setting healthy boundaries and building your self-esteem.

Additionally, look at the other, perhaps out-of-the-box aspects of the people pleaser, like it being a controlling aspect and an aspect of avoidance, and reflect on whether that is who you genuinely wish to be in this world. I know that I don’t want to be a people pleaser, controlling and avoiding, so I will be actively engaging in continuing to uncover the when, where and why of my people pleaser aspect, and encourage myself to let go of control and face my fears as best I can from here on in.




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