Approval and People Pleasing

Do you always try to please others and need their approval to feel fulfilled, valued, and confident? Individuals with anxious-ambivalent attachment style who grew up in a dysfunctional family with contradictory caregivers never knew what to expect in terms of emotions, communications, and behavior. These people are often oversensitive to rejection. As adults, they turn into people-pleasers, building dependent relationships and constantly seeking approval.  Others grow up looking for a way to fit in or be accepted, and the best way to do this is please those around them.

Don’t mistake people-pleasing with kindness. People-pleasers simply cannot turn other’s request down because they fear being seen as a bad person. So, they never stand up for themselves but allow others to take advantage of them instead.

Our need to please others usually stems from self-esteem issues. If you grew up with family members and/or other people who mistreated you, you probably tried to please them in the hope for better treatment. Over time, approval-craving and desire to please others became a way of life.

Signs You May be a People-pleaser

In the constant need for approval, the people-pleasers tend to mold themselves to the expectations and needs of others, never expressing their true feelings, needs, and expectations.

1.    You feel responsible for other people’s feelings.

You usually ignore your needs and feelings while taking up responsibility for your partner and other people as well. You believe that you are responsible for your partner’s feelings and this false belief makes you take upon yourself when your partner is upset or unhappy.

2.    You pretend to agree with everything your partner says.

You pretend to agree with your partner's opinion even when you don’t just because you want to be accepted and approved.

3.    You constantly feel guilty.

If you felt abandoned as a child, you may fear disappointing people.  So, you go above and beyond to please your partner, often scarifying your own needs.

4.    You lack personal boundaries.

You can’t speak up for yourself and say “no”. Also, your communication skills are not strong and you often struggle to express your thoughts, needs, and emotions.

5.    You need praise to feel good about yourself.

Your self-esteem rests completely on what your partner thinks of you. For example, you will feel good only when your partner praises your efforts or compliments you.

6.    You are obsessed with perfection.

As a child, you always struggled to meet the high expectations of your parents. As a result, you fear failure and never allow yourself any flaws – you’re never ill-tempered or bad-mannered.

7.    You’ll do anything to avoid conflicts.

You tend to think that conflicts are something bad, something that should, at all costs, be avoided if you want to live happily and peacefully. When conflicts arise, you usually tune out, withdraw from communication and stop responding.

People-pleasing and a constant need for approval can lead to anxiety, depression or substance abuse. This unhealthy attachment style can prevent you from seizing opportunities and growing emotionally, spiritually, and mentally.

Start getting out of people-pleasing habit by learning to establish boundaries and say “no”. practice assertiveness and build your confidence slowly, step by step. However, if you feel that you cannot manage people-pleasing habit on your own, seek mental health help – a counselor can help you build the mechanism you need to boost your self-esteem and independence.