- I try and be whomever people expect me to be
- I don’t want to cause conflict
- It’s difficult for me to commit to decisions
- I don’t say what I want or need
- It’s easier for me to go with the flow, then what really matters
- I don’t always express my thoughts, when they differ from someone else’s
- I have a hard time saying “no”
- I don’t usually take an initiative
- I just want everyone to agree and get along
If any group of these feelings and thoughts fit your mold, whether often or just sometimes, you may be dealing with a People-Pleasing Pattern. Luckily, there is a way for you to be happy, without sacrificing your own thoughts, morals, and opinions. This People-Pleasing Pattern is not necessarily a strict personality trait, but rather a part of you, that may sometimes shed light in certain situations. If you feel that you or a loved one can relate to the People-Pleasing Pattern, read on to gather a better sense of how to handle and adjust this behavior.
What Is People-Pleasing?
If you feel that you are a people-pleaser, you typically try to mold your personality to whatever fits the mood or situation. You tend to agree with the majority of people in a situation, regardless of your stance. You will often times do what others expect you to do, regardless of what you want to do. Sometimes, you may not be consciously aware that you’re behaving this way, but there is a part of your soul that is reaching out to connect with others, and is fearful of negative reactions.
Case Study #1
Matt’s wife doesn’t feel he gives her enough attention. Matt doesn’t take this news well, and feels terrible. He starts doing everything in his power to please his wife, and cater to her every needs. He doesn’t take the time to think if any of her requests are reasonable, or if he is actually being appropriately attentive. His main concern is for his wife: How do I make her happy? Is she upset with me? How can I please her more? While this attention works for a while, he doesn’t feel that it has sunk in, and realizes his wife may have her own insecurities to deal with.
Case Study #2
Cindy is always assessing how men react to her, on every date. Her main priority is to gain positive attention, regardless of her interest in the man. She doesn’t enjoy dating, but rather looks at the situation like a job: How can I please this man? What does this man prefer? What can I say that will make him think I agree with him? Regardless of her preference, Cindy is always willing to change her opinions. A restaurant she hated previously, will suddenly be her favorite, once suggested by the man of interest. Cindy isn’t aware that she’s trying to be a people-pleaser, it just happens.
These examples of the People-Pleasing Pattern show how difficult it is to say no, and how your subconscious can quickly take over your mind. By avoiding conflict, grasping for approval, and changing opinions, the People-Pleasing Pattern becomes at the forefront of your personality. When you are in the “people-pleasing mode,” it can be increasingly difficult to express how you truly feel about a person or situation.
People-Pleasing In Relationships & Love
When your people-pleasing instincts are turned on, you may be more attracted to those with overbearing, controlling, and demanding partners. This is because they are quick to take control, and enjoy getting their way. Likewise, these people may also be attracted to your lack of inhibition, and letting them take the lead. However, as the relationship grows, people in this situation can take a turn. Your people-pleasing senses may start to fade, and eventually resent your partner for always getting their way. This can lead to passive-aggressive behavior, and is not healthy for either partner in a relationship.
Case Study #3
Jill met the man of her dreams: Mike. Mike was strong, confident, and took charge of any situation. Mike was sure of what he wanted, and Jill was happy to tag along, because she knew that just being by his side, was pleasing to him. Jill & Mike eventually were married, and their relationship was still going strong. After a few years, Jill started to become resentful. She wanted to have some say-so in their life’s decisions, but didn’t feel that her voice was heard. Jill wanted to have kids; Mike wasn’t ready. Jill respected Mike’s wishes, but eventually her patience grew thin. She started becoming emotionally detached, and withdrawn. Mike started to notice that Jill wasn’t her usual self, and he became angry when she wouldn’t meet his demands. When he would ask her what was wrong, Jill wouldn’t respond, in fear of confrontation and anger.
This example of the People-Pleasing Pattern started off strong, but eventually diminished. As both couples were glued into their patterns, they were unable to grow together as partners and a couple.
People-Pleasing Isn’t Always Constant
It’s important to remember that when the people-pleasing side of you is activated, that it isn’t always on. Sometimes, only certain people or situations make you compliant and unwavering. Different circumstances may bring out other personality traits. For example, you may be more people-pleasing at work, but not necessarily at home. You may feel the need to be more people-pleasing around men, but not always around women.
The most important message to grasp is being aware of your people-pleasing tendencies. The next time you find yourself being compliant, only for the sake of avoiding confrontation, and you feel it is a consistent pattern, you may be more likely to speak up. Being conscious of your people-pleasing trait can help you maintain healthy personality habits.
Working Through People-Pleasing
Guided meditation and developing a better understanding of your desires, is the first step towards handling your people-pleasing traits. By addressing this habit straight on, you can work through the difficult tasks of assertion, conflict, and confrontation. This practice will eventually shed light to what is causing you to act predominantly in a people-pleasing manner. With practice, patience, and time, you can eventually put your people-pleasing trait to rest, and take control of your personality.
Transform The People-Pleaser In You
With assertive behavior, you can combat the people-pleasing tendencies you posses. Below are a few suggestions to help you overcome this complaint trait:
- Be aware of your wants and needs
- Speak your mind and ask for the things you want
- Create limits with others and make more time for yourself
- Develop a personal power within, and carry this on through relationships with others
For more information how to help work on the People-Pleasing Pattern, call Metro Detroit Counseling today, to set up an appointment with a qualified therapist. (248) 295-2750 We’re ready to help you find the strength your personality deserves!