by Mark Sichel, LCSW
One begins to wonder, at times, whether the world consists of a combination of People Pleasers and people who are never pleased with anything. Dysfunctional families, in particular, are composed of these two character-types, forever dancing an awkward dance of unhappiness and frustration. People Pleasers are generally full of self-doubt, self-blame, shame, and humiliation. They go to great lengths to get love and approval from others, but no matter how much they get, they never feel loved or good about themselves.
"I felt like it was my fault when it rained, and that if I was stronger, better, smarter, or kinder that the rain wouldn't fall. When my Dad had a bad day at work and came home all tanked up on Jack, I felt responsible for his anger and unhappiness and thought that I should do something about it quickly. When my Mom was frustrated at her own inability to pull together a career for herself, I thought it was my fault, and that if I only would do something differently, that my Mom would be okay."
Does this sound familiar to you? Do you think you might be a People Pleaser?
Characteristics of People Pleasers:
- People Pleasers rarely consider their own needs, wants, and desires.
- People Pleasers take any criticism as fact, and immediately suffer a deflation in their own self-esteem.
- People Pleasers feel an extraordinary fear of abandonment.
- People Pleasers blame themselves for everything that ever goes wrong.
- People Pleasers are more concerned with others' feelings than their own.
- People Pleasers have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, expecting of themselves magical abilities to fix the significant others' in their lives.
- People Pleasers learned early in their lives to bury their own feelings, needs, and wants, and keep them buried until they get help for their problems.
- People Pleasers chronically confuse pity with love and self-sacrifice with caring for others.
People Pleasers are often the unwitting contributors to family dysfunction, although they are far from being the only culprit in a dysfunctional family. People Pleasers tend to have Injustice Collector counterparts: the Injustice Collector in the family remembers every slight, real or imagined, and throws it back in the People Pleaser's face, while the People Pleaser scurries to set things right with the angry Injustice Collector. The cycle will repeat indefinitely, because the particular dysfunctions of the People Pleaser and the Injustice Collector are a perfect fit with one another: Injustice Collectors feel entitled and People Pleasers feel that everyone ELSE is entitled.
If you feel you have a lot in common with a People Pleaser, why not boost your self-esteem and try the Psybersquare Self-Esteem Workshop?
To find out more about Injustice Collectors, read Injustice Collectors.
To discover why a family estrangement is almost never the result of one single incident, read I'm Done: The Family Drama.
To learn more about rifts in the family, read When a Family Divorces.
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