Breaking The Chains: Overcoming The Habit Of People-pleasing
Published on 24th November, 2023
In the intricate dance of human interactions, the desire to please others often takes centre stage. While wanting to be liked and accepted is natural, there's a fine line between healthy social behaviour and the perilous habit of people-pleasing. Breaking the chains of this ingrained tendency is crucial for fostering genuine connections and maintaining mental well-being (Kim, 2023).
Below, we delve into the meaning of people-pleasing, its roots, and the transformative journey to free yourself from its grip.
What is people-pleasing?
People-pleasing is a behaviour pattern characterised by an excessive need to gain approval and acceptance from others, often at the expense of your own needs and desires (Huntington, 2023). It is a subtle art of putting others' preferences ahead of your own, a practice that can be deeply ingrained and challenging to recognise.
How to tell if you are a people pleaser
Identifying people-pleasing tendencies requires a thoughtful reflection of your own actions. Do you find yourself agreeing to things you'd rather decline? Are you overly concerned about others' opinions to the detriment of your well-being? If so, you might be entangled in the web of people-pleasing. The key lies in acknowledging these behaviours and understanding their impact on your life.
Why do you feel the need to please others?
According to clinical social worker Amy Morin (Psychology Today, 2017), it is common for individuals to confuse pleasing people with kindness, therefore, unintentionally allowing others to take advantage of them. The desire for approval and validation is a fundamental human need, but when taken to extremes, it can morph into a compulsive need to please others. Fear of rejection, a desire to avoid conflict, or low self-esteem can all contribute to this habitual behaviour.
The dangers of people-pleasing
While the intention behind people-pleasing may be to foster positive relationships, the long-term consequences can be detrimental.
1. Neglecting self-care
People-pleasers are prone to putting the needs of others above their own, often at the expense of self-care. Constantly prioritising others can lead to burnout, exhaustion, and a gradual erosion of your mental and physical well-being (Neff & Dahm, 2015).
2. Constant stress and anxiety
The perpetual need to meet others' expectations creates a breeding ground for stress and anxiety. The fear of disappointing others or being perceived negatively can result in a chronic state of unease, undermining your mental health.
3. Decision-making challenges
People-pleasers often struggle with decision-making. The fear of making choices that may displease others can lead to indecision, procrastination, and a general sense of feeling stuck.
Is it possible to break the chains of people-pleasing?
Fortunately, breaking free from the shackles of people-pleasing is an achievable endeavour with dedication and self-awareness. Here are some steps to guide this transformative journey:
1. Seek professional help
Therapy or individual adult counselling in Singapore can be a powerful tool for unravelling the deep-seated patterns of people-pleasing. A mental health professional can provide insights into the root causes of this behaviour and offer strategies to build healthier, more assertive communication skills.
2. Practise being alone
Learning to enjoy your own company is a crucial step in overcoming people-pleasing. Having a healthy relationship with yourself involves taking time to engage in activities that bring you joy, independent of others' expectations. Developing a strong sense of self can pave the way for more authentic connections.
3. Practise saying 'No'
For a people-pleaser, saying 'no' can be a formidable challenge. However, establishing boundaries is essential for personal well-being. Start small by declining minor requests and gradually work your way up to more significant decisions. Learning to say 'no' is a powerful act of self-care.
4. Stay patient and persistent
Breaking ingrained habits takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and celebrate small victories along the way. Surround yourself with supportive individuals who understand and respect your journey towards authenticity. Persistence is key in reshaping behaviour patterns.
Breaking the chains of people-pleasing is a journey towards self-discovery and authenticity. Recognising the signs, understanding the root causes, and taking intentional steps to change ingrained behaviours can lead to a more fulfilling and balanced life. By prioritising self-care, setting boundaries, learning to assert yourself and seeking professional counselling services in Singapore, it is possible to forge genuine connections based on mutual respect rather than the constant pursuit of approval. Embracing your true self is not only liberating but also a powerful catalyst for building meaningful and sustainable relationships.
Huntington, C. (2023). People Pleasing: Definition, Quotes, & Psychology. Berkeley Well-Being Institute. https://www.berkeleywellbeing.com/people-pleasing.html
Kim, J. (2023). Break Free From People-Pleasing. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-angry-therapist/202307/break-free-from-people-pleasing
Morin, A. (2017). 10 Signs You're a People-Pleaser. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/sg/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201708/10-signs-youre-people-pleaser
Neff, K. D., & Dahm, K. A. (2015). Self-Compassion: what it is, what it does, and how it relates to mindfulness. In Springer eBooks (pp. 121–137). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-2263-5_10