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Are You a Compulsive People-Pleaser?

We've all done it before — offering to do a favor we later regret, or overextending ourselves when really we just need me-time. But for some people (and I imagine women outnumber men here because of social conditioning), chronic niceness can verge on the pathological and actually be hazardous to the people-pleaser's overall health.

According to Les Barbanell, psychologist and author of Removing the Mask of Kindness, there are many reasons compulsive people-pleasers turn out that way. They could have had emotionally distant, controlling or depressed parents who were also possibly overcritical perfectionists. As a result, their children grew up believing that in order to win their love, they needed to do whatever it took to please them.

If gestures of generosity to other people are not measured against what a person can reasonably give, the result is often depression, anxiety, and (not surprisingly) repressed rage. In its connection to narcissistic personality disorder, so-called "caretaker personality disorder" shows its not-so-selfless and not-so-nice face: it can often cover for the do-gooder's secret ego trip. Like people with NPD, CPDers "require excessive admiration and envy . . .have an overt sense of entitlement, and . . . are incapable of forming equal and mature relationships."

When flight attendants tell parents to put their oxygen masks on before they put them on their children, it's a hint for all of us: don't take care of others before you take care of yourself — or you may pay for it psychologically and emotionally.

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
vmruby vmruby 7 years
No I am am not and never was.It's not humanly possible to please everyone all of the time so why bother.....
mondo mondo 7 years
Yes, I try to be nice to everyone and can overdo it. Then in turn, I get upset when people aren't considerate toward me.
PinkNC PinkNC 7 years
Nope, is my answer. I try to be nice but I am not getting upset and losing sleep when someone doesn’t like what I say, what I do, or where I go. Trying to please everyone can be exhausting and annoying, especially when you are dealing with people around you that insist on being combative with you. They don’t know how to accept and move on to the fact that they haven’t gotten their way. It gets to a point in life where you have to remember that you just can't please everybody and it's not worth your time in some cases to try too.
Meike Meike 7 years
While I personally am a perfectionist and take pride in anything I endeavor, I now do it only for myself, close family, and best friends. I no longer put in the effort to appease people that do not matter. I was a doormat before and was "used" in the same manner as MissSushi's husband. I thought I was being nice and appreciated for my work until my former boss started taking the credit. It was a toxic work relationship witnessed by a whole department that sided with me and finally she had to quit. She didn't want to face the disgrace of being fired.
MissSophia MissSophia 7 years
Yes Im definately an over-people pleaser. My father alwasy expected perfection and both parents were emotionally distant growing up.
MissSushi MissSushi 7 years
I am not a people pleaser. I'm really very nice, and very helpful, but im not interested in being over used, under apreciated and hung out to dry. I will help within reason, and if the person is willing to reciprocate. It may seem conditional to others, but i spent my life watching my father please people, and my husband for that matter, and have them just walk all over them, over and over and over. My husband thinks its a good thing that his work calls on him CONSTANTLY to pick up everyone elses slack. He thinks it means they think hes awesome and reliant. He's wrong. They know he can't say no to save his soul, and will do absolutely anyone elses job at any time no matter what. Totally used. His boss never ever takes responsibility for his employees, he just makes my husband do it.
bethinabox bethinabox 7 years
Ha, as soon as I read the title of this post I immediately thought of my friend. He's always telling me about how this person asked him for money or that person asked him to do them a favor, and he just can't say no, even when he wants to. I'm constantly telling him to tell them to bug off but he never listens. As for myself, not a people pleaser. I will accommodate you to a certain extent, but I have reasonable limits.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
I'm with Kimpossible. I think I'm a recovering people-pleaser.
staple-salad staple-salad 7 years
I am, most certainly. I have problems just being angry at people (at least, to their face), and tend to agree a lot when I don't really (usually to avoid a fight). My boyfriend says I'm a people pleaser. I've already had to go to counseling over it.
oohsexypenguin oohsexypenguin 7 years
I am definitely a people pleaser, and it's because of my mother. She is an overachiever and a perfectionist, and my whole life she's done nothing but criticize me and the choices I make. I'm trying to find ways to start standing up for myself and realize I'm a good person even if my mom can't see it. But it is hard.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 7 years
I said "No" but the more accurate answer is "not anymore". Because I sure used to be.
genesisrocks genesisrocks 7 years
I think I am in a pretty normal way. I do adjust my behavior to please others. Not changing my personality but showing my smart side in class, my funny side with my friends, etc. So I think about 90% of the population is made up of people pleasers in that sense.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
Yes, I really need to knock it off. I've been trying to stand up for myself more, but it's only sort of working.
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 7 years
My husband often tells me that I overdo it, but I always think if I do something for someone and they are grateful, it makes it all worthwhile.
arianamarie arianamarie 7 years
it sucks but yea i try to keep the peace too damn much, but that's all changing
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