Help! I'm a People Pleaser

person standing in ocean waves

         Flickr  image credit:   Manky M.  


Are you currently engulfed in the sea of pleasing everyone but yourself?

Do you help your children and/or others reach their fullest potential, but neglect your own goals?

Are you afraid to “rock the boat” and say, “No” to others to the extent that you don’t take care of yourself?

Would you like to eat healthier, but are afraid of hurting someone’s feelings by rejecting their food?  Are you going along with the crowd at the expense of killing yourself? 

A people pleaser is concerned with the expectations of others and trying to fit in, even if it means compromising personal goals to do so.  Pleasing everyone is emotional dysfunction, and is usually on the side of evil, not goodness.  Trying to please others, even if what they are promoting is hurtful, is a deadly snare.  Gang members can torture and kill people trying to please their peer group.     

Don’t meet the expectations and demands of others if they are unrealistic and disease promoting.  Love means having the best affect on others, not acting in a way to be viewed more favorably.  The latter is weakness and self-love.     

If you are a habitual people pleaser it will take courage to change the dysfunction.  Saying no without feeling guilty can be difficult, but for optimal health, you must change damaging behaviors.

Standing up for yourself and doing what is right, not necessarily what is popular or what is promoted by your peers is the best gift that you can give to others!

Let’s dialogue.  In what practical way(s) do you need to change to be emotionally and physically healthy?  (Feel free to use a nickname if you wish to remain anonymous.)  

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Comments (8) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Cindy Marsch - November 15, 2009 9:21 PM

I need to not look for others' approval or congratulations in order to stay motivated.

I need to not feel threatened if my husband starts eating nutritarian and the weight melts off him faster than it is off of me.

I need to not give my OWN disapproval when others are doing dumb stuff to lose weight or "get healthy."

I need to not worry people will think I'm a full-fledged lifestyle vegan (I don't fit the religious/political profile of most vegans) when I eat like this.

I need to be good-natured when people are skeptical.

I need to not feel ashamed of my tofu. :-)

I need to stay prepared for a world that's not often prepared for my nutritional needs. So I need to keep walking out of a Starbucks (in a B&N bookstore) or considering my small plain iceberg-lettuce and carrot-shred salad a first course instead of a waste of time. And I need to keep asking for what I need/want in restaurants.

I need to not feel skittish as I'm losing weight--there often comes a time when I feel insecure and "unbalanced" and apprehensive as I begin having really noticeable changes.

I need to not be angry when well-meaning people ask me, "Don't you feel better about yourself now?" as if I should have always been living under a rock before.

aunt cia - November 16, 2009 12:45 AM

Emily...thanks for this wonderful post. I am learning what life is like without that pressure of trying to please people. With the holidays coming up, for the first time I will be able to just walk into a family gathering planning to eat the foods that promote health...and am learning how to make sure there are foods there, real foods, you know. I am learning that most people love to have "help" with their food and if I offer to bring food, I always take a salad and/or a raw fruit dish of some sort. This seems to not be an offense anywhere, but even if I must take my own food, I don't care this year. Other years it was not so.

Cindy Marsch - November 16, 2009 7:57 AM

Follow-up to previous comment:

I need to cheerfully "share my secret" when folks notice how I'm changing. As of today I've lost 12+ pounds (probably more like fifteen, but I didn't weigh the first few days) in five weeks. Yay.

Still a long way to go . . . similar to your story, Emily.

Deana Ferreri - November 16, 2009 9:40 AM

I remind myself over and over that others' approval has no bearing on my happiness. And...

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." ~Bill Cosby

Stephanie FW - November 16, 2009 10:31 AM

Whoa ... has people pleasing been the story of my life, or what? I don't think there is any "magic" formula to follow and *poof* we will no longer be a people pleaser, but I do know that we are usually more apt to begin making changes when we have either had a life trauma or we have reached rock-bottom.

When my husband died in Oct. of 2008, and I was suddenly a single mother of 4 kids under the age of 8, I hit rock-bottom. For a while, I didn't even have any desire to live. EVERYTHING was about ME. It was too hard, I didn't WANT to be doing this, it wasn't FAIR. Sounds like a 4-yr-old, huh? Thankfully, I am a part of an amazing church who never gave up on me. Also, during this time my biological father (whom I did not meet until I was 22, and after that only saw him sporadically until 2008) came back into the picture and there has been major healing and restoration. The healing of that relationship was the pivotal point for me being able to finally care about me.

Now I have the amazing support of the ETL community and everything is finally "clicking"! I know one big hurdle for me will be not feeling like a failure or worrying about what others think of me if I don't lose fast enough, or if I mess up here and there.

So far it has been exciting ... it has only been 2 weeks and I have lost 1.5" off my waist and my B/P is 127/82 down from 140/100!! I haven't weighed myself or taken any other measurements yet. I couldn't resist with my waist, because I could tell something was different. It actually seems as though I can feel the fat "melting" off of me. One downfall for me has always been that if I start to do well with something, I start to sabotage myself ... so I am praying myself through that! I already have TONS more energy and stamina and can walk without pain for the first time in over a year!

It is such a tremendous encouragement and blessing to be a part of the ETL community ~ it is truly changing my life.

Emily Boller - November 16, 2009 11:23 AM

Great thoughts everyone.

Deana, I love "the key to failure is trying to please everybody." (B. Cosby) That is a keeper; a wall plaque quote!

Congratulations to Cindy, Aunt Cia and Stephanie for taking the necessary steps to get health back - keep up the great work!

CJ - November 16, 2009 12:24 PM

At one time I was a people pleaser, but with age I have become more secure in my choices and do not feel the need to explain my motivations.

If I do get pressure, I fall back on the ol' "it works for me and my doctor approves" line. That line seems to lend validity instead of trying to argue over the merits of my way vs. their way.


Suz Zencka - November 25, 2010 12:42 PM

This is a GREAT column, and thanks for some really great comments, too.

Kind of discouraging for me to realize that I started gaining weight with my first pregnancy, and am only now, with all three sons (more or less) out of the house that I am getting healthy again -- why couldn't I care for me while I cared for them?

But at least I'm caring for me, now.

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