Could You Be One?
A people-pleaser is someone who habitually prioritizes others’ needs, wishes, or happiness over their own.
That was me for decades.
Everyone overextends themselves from time to time, but a people-pleaser does it habitually, even when it results in negative consequences. Not all people-pleasers exhibit their need to please in the same way, to the same degree, or under the same circumstances. As in all aspects of life, each of us is unique.
You don’t have to be a people-pleaser forever.
I’ll be honest: healing the disease to please is a process. It’s taken me years, and I still have work to do. But it is possible and I can help you get started.
I put together a tipsheet of 50 Simple Ways to Stop People-Pleasing; ideas so simple even folks who are really stuck can achieve success! I've tried most of them, and I'd love to hear what works for you. Click the link above to download the pdf. Happy asserting!
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“When a dental hygienist wouldn't wear her mask properly, I didn’t want to say anything because I HATE conflict. Then I literally thought, "What would Karen DeBonis do?" So I politely asked the hygienist to fix her mask, which she did. I felt so proud of myself. Thank you.”
Danielle, a Facebook follower
“In a recent phone call, I called myself a 'recovering people pleaser'. I'm not sure if I would have such awareness if I was not connected to you. Thank you!”
Gail, a subscriber
“Karen’s insight inspired me to take a closer look at my own ‘people pleasing’ issues, causing me to identify what triggers me to slip into this behavior. I had never given much thought to the particular people and situations that act as triggers for me, but now I’m much more aware and better equipped to deal with them.”
Carol, a focus group participant
In the past, I’d have put my friend’s needs above my own–classic pleasing.
I made it all about her–the babysitter.–about protecting her feelings rather than protecting my child.
Since I wrote last month about fear of conflict and anger—the main drivers of my (fading!) people-pleasing—I’ve been mulling over the fear of abandonment, curious if it also fits into my puzzle. Here’s what I learned.
Anger has always been a tricky emotion for me. I feel it, and I know it’s normal and healthy, but I don’t always know what to do with it or how to express it in a constructive way.
Neither my mother nor my father would ever say a bad word about anyone. If they had nothing nice to say, they said nothing at all. It was an admirable trait, and my parents were formidable role models.
In the process of adding new content to my website, I came up with a phrase that grabbed me. As a writer, I loved the alliteration. As a recovering people-pleaser, I loved how it made me feel. I was smitten.
Sometimes, what looks like conflict-aversion is really a choice to be kind. I started this blog before my dad, from whom I learned the importance of doing good unto others, was given just days to live.
Holding others accountable is hard for people-pleasers because it involves confrontation, which carries the risk of rejection. It’s less scary to pretend negative things don’t happen.
A recent coffee flood and ego-boosting news from the New York Times tie together many threads.
Sharing my truth means I can’t hide from it. Once it’s out, I’m confronted with its destructiveness and feel I have no choice but to change.