People Pleasing: Does It Affect Mental Health?
While people-pleasing is not recognized as an official mental health disorder, it is a common condition observed in many individuals today, and it frequently gives rise to emotional and mental health issues. A people-pleaser is someone who constantly strives to satisfy others, even at the expense of their own well-being. Many people-pleasers possess a high level of empathy and genuine compassion. However, for them, the problem runs deeper than a simple desire to be kind and thoughtful.
Although being kind and accommodating is generally positive, going to extreme lengths to please others can result in emotional exhaustion, stress, and anxiety.
What is people-pleasing?
A people-pleaser is an individual who consistently prioritizes the needs of others over their own. Such individuals are often highly sensitive to the needs of those around them and are recognized for their agreeable, helpful, and kind natures. However, people-pleasers can encounter difficulties when it comes to standing up for themselves, potentially resulting in a detrimental cycle of self-sacrifice or self-neglect.
People-pleasing is linked with a particular personality trait called “sociotropy.” It refers to an excessive preoccupation with pleasing others and obtaining their acceptance as a means of sustaining relationships. This conduct may be indicative of a mental health disorder. Some of the mental illnesses associated with people-pleasing are:
- ANXIETY OR DEPRESSION
- AVOIDANT PERSONALITY DISORDER
- BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (BPD)
- CODEPENDENCY OR DEPENDENT PERSONALITY DISORDER
How does people-pleasing affect mental health?
Engaging in people-pleasing behaviors can have negative effects on the mental well-being of individuals. Frequently, the happiness and self-perception of people pleasers are contingent upon the opinions of others. Consequently, they can experience heightened distress if someone expresses dissatisfaction with them.
Anxiety and stress
Constantly striving to please others can deplete your own physical and mental energy. Juggling numerous responsibilities in an attempt to accommodate everyone’s needs can result in overwhelming stress and anxiety, ultimately taking a toll on your overall well-being. While assisting others can have positive impacts on your mental health, it is crucial to allocate time for self-care. Neglecting personal time and prioritizing others at all times can expose you to the adverse effects of excessive stress, impacting your health negatively.
Even though you may find joy in helping others, there can still be instances where you feel frustrated when assisting out of reluctance or obligation. These emotions can contribute to a cycle where you help someone, become angry at them for taking advantage, and then experience regret or self-pity.
Exhausted determination and self-control
Focusing all your energy and mental abilities on the satisfaction of others can impede your ability to pursue your own aspirations and goals. According to some studies, willpower and self-control are finite resources. When you expand your mental faculties to ensure others’ satisfaction, you might have limited mental capacity to address your own requirements.
If you invest all your efforts in meeting the expectations of others, you might experience feelings of resentment. While people may value your generous nature, there is a possibility that they will start taking your kindness and attentiveness for granted. It is likely that people are unaware that they are taking advantage of you. They simply recognize your consistent willingness to assist and assume you will always be available when needed. However, they may not fully grasp the extent to which you are stretched thin and overburdened with commitments.
How do you stop people-pleasing?
Fortunately, there are effective measures you can take to break free from the people-pleasing pattern and find a healthy balance between prioritizing others’ happiness and preserving your own well-being.
Knowing your boundaries is essential to maintaining a healthy balance between helping others and taking care of yourself. Clearly defining and communicating your limits is important. You should be specific about what you can and cannot do for others. If someone is asking for too much, be honest with them and explain that it is outside of your capacity to help. In addition, setting boundaries in your daily life can also help control your people-pleasing tendencies.
Learn to say ‘no’
Initially, it may seem challenging to assert yourself and potentially disappoint others. However, with practice, it becomes easier to prioritize your own needs. You can begin by taking small steps, like refraining from apologizing when someone else is at fault for a minor incident. Gradually, as your comfort level grows, you can progress to asserting yourself in other situations and expressing your needs and boundaries more assertively.
Think about your needs first
If you frequently prioritize the needs of others over your own, it may be beneficial to define and prioritize your own needs. Take some time to reflect on what you desire from your work and personal relationships. Consider journaling about this topic or creating a list that you can refer to for guidance. Remind yourself that you have the right to ask for what you want and acknowledge that it is perfectly acceptable to have needs of your own.
It can be challenging to make an abrupt change, so it is often best to start by asserting yourself in small ways. Changing behavior patterns can be difficult as it requires not only retraining yourself but also educating those around you about your boundaries. Therefore, it is advisable to take small steps to gradually reduce people-pleasing behavior. Begin by saying no to smaller requests, expressing your opinion about something small, or asking for something that you need.
Consider first the request
To overcome people-pleasing, recognize signs of others taking advantage of your kindness. Do you notice individuals who frequently ask for favors but are unavailable when you require assistance? Or do some people ask for your help because they know you will always agree? If you feel manipulated, evaluate the situation and determine how to proceed with the request. In the case of persistent offenders or those who keep pressuring you to help, it’s crucial to be assertive and clear.
Seek therapy for people-pleasing behavior
In certain instances, the tendencies and behaviors of people pleasers may stem from past trauma or abuse. Whether this applies to your situation or if you struggle with asserting yourself, seeking support from a therapist or counselor can be highly beneficial. They can assist you in acquiring new skills for cultivating healthy relationships.
If you’re interested in seeking counseling to address people-pleasing tendencies, reach out to Mindshift Psychological Services. Their dedicated team of trained counselors and therapists can provide valuable guidance and support in overcoming these patterns. By working with them, you can focus on building healthier relationships and cultivating a renewed sense of self-esteem. Feel free to contact them at (714) 584-9700 to schedule an appointment.