The Disease That is the Need To Please

Recently, I was inspired by a fellow blogger’s post about an annoying co-worker that she had begun to avoid. The offending employee was new to this blogger’s office and the annoying behavior of which I am about to address was something we’ve all had a little experience with… no matter which side of the fence we’re on. I am talking about the need to please.

In case you are curious, the entry—cleverly titled “Killing Me With Kindness”—that inspired THIS entry can be found here:

See, while my blogging buddy writes from the perspective of the person who finds “people-pleasing” behavior to be quite vexing… I, on the other hand, am The Pleaser. So you can imagine why I found her post to be so insightful. This was, for me, a view from the other side of the fence.

So inspired was I by her view of things that I posted the following comment below her entry: “I am so glad you wrote this post. Because, let me tell you, although I’ve been on BOTH the giving and receiving end of your co-worker’s obnoxious chipper-ness… MORE of me definitely falls into her camp. And I wrestle with it. Constantly. See, at 36, I have become more aware that I am “that” person to some people and it is a HUGE struggle. Honestly… I am being serious… I have asked my therapist about it. I told my therapist that I feel I should just shut the hell up and not talk to anyone and that perhaps that would make everyone happier. (See… ever always TRYING to PLEASE) But then she tells me that I shouldn’t deny being myself around others. It is a tough one. I must admit that even with her advice in tow… I probably have been TRYING (at least mentally) to be more of the “shut-the-hell-up” person anyway. And it’s hard.”

People-pleasing is a horrible and (I’m not being melodramatic here) destructive trait to have. If I were to serendipitously cross paths with a genie in a bottle, and he granted me just one wish—I honestly think I would ask him to change this manner in me.

It is downright crippling at times, not to mention it causes you to constantly cast aside your very own identity and wellbeing in order to make others happy or more comfortable. And here’s the kicker: Most of the time… they don’t care that you’ve done it. They might not even notice that you’ve done it. It is a lost cause, wasted energy, and an exercise in futility. It is a sickness. A disease. The Disease That is the Need to Please. So… if anyone has been successful in finding the cure—or happens to know the whereabouts of a certain genie in a bottle—you can see why I, for one, would REALLY like to know.


9 thoughts on “The Disease That is the Need To Please

  1. Nannette says:

    As a fellow ‘need to pleaser’, lol, I would say that as you get older you get tired of it and begin to pull away from it. It’s hard though when you’ve done it all your life. It feels strange and causes rifts because people are used to you wanting to please them and never causing conflict so when you do, it’s shocking to them. It is a very hurtful and destructive behavior, i agree. Mostly tho, it hurts us because not only are we putting our needs and feelings aside, we are accumulating resentment and anger towards people that we are trying to please. No matter how good of a person you are and how hard you try to stuff the bad feelings down, they will surface one day. I know this for a fact, unfortunately. This year seems to be my year for the transition from needing to please and some people aren’t taking it well while others, who by the way are the ones who really care about me, have said that it’s about time I stand up for myself! You are a good person, just remember that, Joanna!!!

  2. JT says:

    I have a confession and an insight. I too am a people pleaser and usually the people I am trying to please never are! What I have found is something deeper, We all are wired differently, however there are I believe certain things that are inherent in all of us. One of those things is the need to be affirmed/recognized. For those that have oodles of self confidence it is difficult to believe they need this,but they do and they get it differently than someone who has no self confidence. This could be a long discussion and perhaps I will blog on it at some point. Suffice it to say that what we really are after is a validation that we are heard, that we matter, that people truly care about and value us. In the dog eat dog world we live in those kinds of validations are few and far between, often even from the ones closest to us. Based on what IO have seen your Mom post I can tell you have at least one very strong supporter 🙂

  3. I am a transitional people pleaser:) I think in my early years I was a people pleaser to not ruffle any feathers and cause conflict. Then later on my people pleasing turned into more of a need for validation. Once I hit my late 20s into early 30s I started my transition in people pleasing and it was a tough transition. I was called selfish, UGB, traitor, not a true friend, etc. I needed to find balance in my life and find a happy medium between saying yes and no to certain things in my life. I am in a much better position in my life now and loving it. Thanks for sharing.

    • This is another great comment and so true. As a retired school teacher just this fall, I have finally made it “to the middle”. I find myself having to work, though, at not going too far in the other direction!

    • It’s definitely an evolution I think… and I suppose striking a balance like so many other things. You’re right.

      Thanks everyone for sharing that many of you are, in fact, people pleasers too at times 😉

  4. I am surprised to see ( I was going to say, hear) myself writing that I am not a people pleaser! Wow that feels strange. Some people can’t be pleased no matter what you do so I have started being me! If I want to scream then I will. If I don’t want to go somewhere or do something then I won’t! It’s a good thing. Sometimes not for the other person but too darn bad.

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