Do you find yourself constantly seeking validation from others? Are you often prioritizing the needs and desires of others over your own? If so, you may be caught in the trauma trap of being a people-pleaser, a coping mechanism that can significantly impact your life and well-being.
In this blog post, we will explore the red flags of people-pleasing, delve into coping mechanisms, uncover root causes, and discuss the necessary steps to initiate positive change.
Red Flags of People-Pleasing
- Constant need for validation and approval: Seeking external validation becomes a way to boost self-worth for people-pleasers. They fear criticism or rejection, leading them to seek approval from others excessively.
- Overwhelming guilt and anxiety: People-pleasers feel responsible for others’ happiness, often at their own expense. They experience anxiety when making decisions that may displease others, leading to a perpetual cycle of guilt.
- Neglecting personal needs and desires: People-pleasers consistently put others’ needs ahead of their own. They struggle to say “no” or establish boundaries, resulting in neglecting their own well-being.
- Loss of identity and self-worth: Suppressing authentic thoughts and emotions to please others can cause people-pleasers to lose touch with their own identity. They rely on others’ opinions and validation to define their self-worth.
- Resentment and burnout: Despite their excessive efforts to meet others’ expectations, people-pleasers often feel unappreciated. This can lead to exhaustion, resentment, and burnout.
Coping Mechanisms for People-Pleasers
Breaking free from the patterns of people-pleasing requires conscious effort and self-reflection. Here are some coping mechanisms to consider:
- Self-reflection and awareness: Recognize patterns for people-pleaser behavior and identify triggers and emotional responses. This self-awareness is essential for initiating change.
- Setting healthy boundaries: Learn to say “no” without guilt and communicate your needs and limitations effectively. This one is spoken about in ALLLLLLL literature for people pleasers, and from a trauma-informed point of view – the fear a people pleaser has to go through to speak a no, in any disguise, is extreme. I know, just ask me. The neural pathways you have built to keep you safe over your lifetime will tell you in every which way that that ‘no’ is unsafe – akin to – you are about to make a choice that’s going to cost you ‘your life’. So, if you’re here with me still in this missive, and you just felt validated for your inability to ‘just say no’, I invite you to come and peruse my people-pleaser programs to have a look at how I handle trauma and why it’s the thing dictating your world.
- Developing self-compassion and self-care: Prioritize self-nurturing and practice self-compassion. Embrace imperfections and accept yourself as you are.
- Seeking support and professional help: I’m here before you as someone who can show you the evidence of what a people-pleasing journey looks like to go the long way around and how there’s a distinct anatomy associated to why you please. I’ve developed the path of the least resistance with this work, with layers of information that never make it to mainstream because I look at and know the root causes to this behaviour. I can give you a ‘quick fix’ for those who are just looking for a new layer of awareness, all the way down to 1:1 trauma-informed personal story work over a six-month period – holding space for you when the trauma tries to dictate the terms.
Exploring the Root Causes
Understanding the root causes of people-pleasing can help unveil the underlying reasons behind this behavior. People pleasing is a coping mechanism, a trauma response. Then add in the understanding of trauma makes you sick, and how your body stores trauma, there’s a reason the behaviours come out to play. They’ve been locked into your responses since you were little, and became a part of you and your relationship with safety.
Some common causes include:
- Childhood conditioning and societal pressures: Upbringing and societal expectations can play a significant role in shaping people-pleasing tendencies.
- Fear of rejection and abandonment: The fear of rejection or abandonment can drive individuals to prioritize others’ needs over their own.
- Low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence: People-pleasers often struggle with low self-esteem and lack confidence, seeking validation from others to feel worthy.
- Need for control and avoidance of conflict: People-pleasing can be a coping mechanism to maintain control and avoid conflict, as confrontation may be uncomfortable or frightening. The trauma version of this is because the person who taught you that conflict was painful, inflicted that pain on you when you needed to feel the safest. That’s the trauma story hitting your nervous system when it comes time for you to speak up or say no to something.
Embracing Change and Breaking Free
Breaking free from people-pleasing requires dedication and perseverance. Here are some steps to help you initiate positive change:
- Cultivate self-awareness and mindfulness: I have developed a process for people who’ve done the work, but it’s not showing any dividends. It’s the People Pleasing Protocol. Sign up to learn when it’s available to download.
- Challenge negative beliefs and internal dialogue: Identify and challenge the negative beliefs that fuel your people-pleaser tendencies. The best question to ask yourself: IS THIS TRUE? Then wait for the answer.
- Practice assertiveness and authentic communication: Learn to assert your needs and desires in a respectful and assertive manner. Communicate authentically, expressing your true thoughts and emotions. Remember, assertion doesn’t mean aggression. It never has.
- Celebrate small victories and progress: Acknowledge and celebrate each step forward in your journey to break free from people-pleasing. Recognize your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. This is a massive and IMPORTANT part of your process. Every new behaviour or choice is a win.
- Embrace personal growth and self-discovery: Focus on personal growth and self-discovery. Engage in activities that promote self-expression, explore your passions, and cultivate a strong sense of self.
Top 6 FAQ
- How can I differentiate between genuine kindness and people-pleasing behavior? Genuine kindness comes from a place of authenticity and does not involve sacrificing your well-being. People-pleasing, on the other hand, often disregards personal needs and stems from a fear of rejection or desire for approval.
- Can being a people-pleaser be beneficial in certain situations? While accommodating others and being kind is important, constantly people-pleasing can be detrimental. It may lead to neglecting your own needs, fostering resentment, and hindering personal growth.
- What are the long-term consequences of constantly people-pleasing? Long-term people-pleasing can lead to a loss of identity, burnout, decreased self-worth, and strained relationships. It may also prevent you from living authentically and pursuing your own goals and desires.
- Are there specific personality traits associated with people-pleasing? People-pleasing can be linked to low self-esteem, a fear of rejection, a desire for control, and a strong need for external validation. However, anyone can exhibit people-pleasing tendencies, regardless of their personality traits.
- Can people-pleasing be overcome, or is it a permanent part of one’s personality? People-pleasing can be overcome with self-awareness, conscious effort, and the willingness to change. It is not a permanent part of your personality but rather a learned behavior that can be unlearned and replaced with healthier coping mechanisms. Taking a trauma-informed approach is the game changer though, together with understanding how trauma is stored in your neural pathways, you give your self a much deeper chance of change than just talk therapy or thinking positive thoughts.
- Can people-pleasing make me sick? The illnesses that have a higher presentation in people pleasers than non-people pleasers are, burnout, adrenal fatigue, tonsilitis, ankle injuries, breast issues, thyroid issues, asthma, cancers, corns, chronic hiccups, high blood pressure, kidney problems (fear related), Parkinson’s disease, rosacea, sleep apnoea, shingles. For one of the bigger extremes too, if cancer isn’t a big enough one for you, auto-immune diseases are also a big trauma response.
Remember, breaking free from people-pleasing is a journey that requires self-compassion and patience. By recognizing the red flags, implementing coping mechanisms, exploring root causes, and embracing change, you can reclaim your authenticity and create a more fulfilling life. Start today and embark on the path to personal freedom and empowerment.