People-pleasing is becoming and molding yourself into what other people expect. The fear of letting people see your true thoughts, feelings, and desires terrify to the point when pretending to be someone else feels easier than facing the disappointment of others.
It is a role that is often chosen at an early age when standing up for yourself and setting boundaries were impossible.
Common early life experiences that induce people-pleasing behaviors are:
1) Inconsistent parenting - You felt you could never be certain what your parents’ next move will be. You were walking on eggshells as one bad move could provoke negative consequences.
2) Your parent's inability to accept your individual differences & needs - Expressing a different opinion to your parents, having different religious beliefs, wanting to eat something else, experiencing a different emotional or physical state compare to your parents were all triggers for anger outbursts, humiliation or separation.
3) Growing up with parents suffering from mental health difficulties & substance misuse problems - Witnessing a parent in a vulnerable state can make a child feel that their problems are minor compared to what their parents are going through. They don't want to add to the burdens that are already present so they try very hard to become as perfect as possible.
As you can see from the above examples, people-pleasing seemeed like the only possible way to survive as your life was dependent on your caregivers. It was never born out of a malicious intent to manipulate people.
However, you might agree with me that continuing to relate in this way to others as an adult has its downsides.
You might feel deep resentment towards the people closest to you.
You constantly take on too much at home and at work leaving you to feel exhausted.
You can’t communicate honestly.
These are of course just the tip of the iceberg as people-please will affect each person in a different way and level. I invite you to reflect …
Have you experienced similar people-pleasing inducing situations as a child?
Can you recall how your parents looked after your needs?
Can you remember the first time you felt guilty for needing/wanting something?