There is a fine line between what could be considered being kind or nice and people-pleasing. People pleasing is often a stress/trauma response. Typically people-pleasers want to please others at the expense of their own needs and have a tendency to feel their needs aren't as important and can tend to alter their personality to align with others.
People pleasing develops a stress/trauma response. As humans, we are built to find ways to protect ourselves either through the fight/flight/freeze response or something called fawning. Fawing is the process of conforming to the wishes, needs, and demands of others which creates a sense of safety.
Common signs of people pleasing
- pretend to agree with everyone
- over apologize
- take responsibility for how others feel
- feel burdened with things you have to do
- difficult to say 'no'
- easily upset if someone is mad at you
- imitate people around you
- avoid conflict
- difficulty to admit when your feelings are hurt
There are a number of 'life experiences that can lead to people-pleasing behaviors including:
- violence caused by a parent, parent, or caregiver
- emotionally absent parents
- relationship with a narcissistic partner or parent
- conflict-avoidant household while growing up
- persistent physical or mental health issues in the home while growing up
- subjected to racism, discrimination, exclusion, or micro-aggressions
- poor self-esteem
How to overcome the people-pleasing mentality and get your needs met
- see a counselor or therapist to process emotions and develop new responses
- free yourself from roles that placed you in a people-pleasing space
- connect with yourself to understand your needs and identify how best to get these needs met
- set boundaries
- help when you want to
- think before committing
- practice self-talk
- build strength to say 'no'