People pleasing; the problem with being nice

Are you often accused of being a people-pleaser or too nice?

Do you:
• struggle to say “no”
• find it hard to be speak up
• on the look-out for perceived rejection
• fear ‘negative’ emotions
• often do a favour for others at your own expense
• have a weak sense of self
• have difficulty with boundaries
• become emotionally dependent/co-dependent in relationships
• constantly need approval from others
• have a need to be liked
• collapse when someone criticises you
• worry what other people think of you

Consequences of being too nice:

Your happiness is in the hands of others
If you base your sense of worthiness on other people’s approval of you, the power is with others. You have subconsciously given away your sense of self-esteem to the whim of other people’s ability to notice, be grateful, polite or express their opinion.
You suppress feelings and build resentment
If you’re so anxious to make others happy, you suppress your own feelings. Suppressing emotions leads to a build-up of resentment and often sparks acting out of anger or frustration. This is often because your actions are conditional and come with expectations — that others will appreciate or reciprocate your efforts. Suppression of emotions eventually results in physical or psychological breakdowns.

The Cost of Pleasing in relationships

Our pleasing habit denies others the opportunity to help, give, and love us equitably.
Relationships are based on dishonesty, so there is no authentic connection.
We give up our power, happiness, and freedom to truly contribute.
Our unwillingness to risk being authentic and speak our truth creates hidden agendas that damage relationships.

Unconsciously or otherwise others can take advantage of you and, as you enjoy feeling needed and wanted, you unwittingly continue the toxic cycle

How to stop the cycle

  • Remember that you always choose to say yes or no
  • It’s OK to say that you’ll need to think about it
  • Ask yourself “What do I need?”
  • Know your priorities and values
  • Set limits and boundaries
  • Remember “What other people think about you is none of your business”
  • You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s OK
  • Seek feedback from people you trust
  • Learn to rely on your own judgement and assessments
  • Practice speaking up

Heather is a Mindfulness-based Psychotherapist at the Lotus Centre in Brookvale.