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  • Writer's pictureEmily Piette

Am I a People-Pleaser?

“Emotional loneliness is so distressing that a child who experiences it will do whatever is necessary to make some kind of connection with the parent. These children may learn to put other people's needs first as the price of admission to a relationship.

Instead of expecting others to provide support or show interest in them, they may take on the role of helping others, convincing everyone that they have few emotional needs of their own. Unfortunately, this tends to create even more loneliness, since covering up your deepest needs prevents genuine connection with others.”

― Lindsay C. Gibson, Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents

Being a “people pleaser” is not a character defect but a measure of how safe or dangerous it was to assert yourself with early caregivers. These patterns of behavior continue for many into their adulthood, and can be passed down to our own children if we are not aware and do our own inner-work. Another term in trauma work for "people pleasing" is fawning- trauma response in which a person reverts to people-pleasing to diffuse conflict and reestablish a sense of safety.

But how do you know if you are a people-pleaser? Read through the list below and check off the points that resonate with you. Remember, it is not "bad" to be people-pleaser, it was a way of survival

  • You have a difficult time saying "no."

  • You are preoccupied with what other people might think.

  • You feel guilty when you do tell people "no."

  • You fear that turning people down will make them think you are mean or selfish.

  • You agree to things you don’t like or do things you don’t want to do.

  • You struggle with feelings of low-self esteem.

  • You want people to like you and feel that doing things for them will earn their approval.

  • You’re always telling people you’re sorry.

  • You take the blame even when something isn’t your fault.

  • You never have any free time because you are always doing things for other people.

  • You neglect your own needs in order to do things for others.

  • You pretend to agree with people even though you feel differently.

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