Personal Development
Are you a “people pleaser”?

Are you a “people pleaser”?

Satisfy wants and needs of everyone, close or less close, all the time, without thinking or
count. This is what the Anglo-Saxons call people pleasers, men and women who always put themselves after others. Practical deconditioning work.

The 15 warning signs

A brief tour of beliefs and behaviors compiled by the American psychotherapist Sharon Martin. The typical people pleaser…

  • wants everyone to like him.
  • overapologizes.
  • needs to be validated.
  • let people take advantage of him.
  • feels guilty or “bad” when he sets limits.
  • fear of conflict.
  • has always been considered or described as “nice”.
  • thinks that taking care of yourself is only an option.
  • feels tense, anxious, on alert.
  • is hyperdemanding of himself.
  • puts himself after others and has difficulty asking.
  • is very sensitive to criticism.
  • thinks that his feelings, ideas, desires and needs are less important than those of others.
  • is a caregiver, he cannot bear to see someone in pain, sad or uncomfortable.
  • feels that more is always being asked of him. Moreover, he would like others to take his feelings and needs into account.

4 keys to initiating change

The pleaser’s root belief is that he is worth less than others and must do more to be liked or accepted. It is about integrating non-erroneous beliefs on which to rely to restore one’s self-esteem.

1. Take care of yourself is anything but selfish

Always well anchored, this belief pushes those whose self-confidence is fragile to put themselves second and to transform themselves into valets for others! If there is one certainty in the field of psychology that has stood the test of time and fashion, it is the one which postulates that taking care of oneself, listening to one’s needs and supporting one’s desires is a right and a necessity for everyone. This position protects us from suffering due to self-neglect and prevents relational abuse.

In practice: take microbreaks during the day and ask yourself how you are, how you feel and what you could do to get better; schedule activities beneficial for you (medical visits included) and commit to respecting them (they will thus be more likely to be respected by others).

2. Not all relationships, likes and opinions are equal

The chronic pleaser tends to satisfy the needs of both those close to him and his distant relations. Besides the fact that this absence of hierarchy devalues acts of generosity towards loved ones, it condemns the pleaser to be used, sometimes sacrificed, by the first person to come. Hence the importance of demonstrating lucidity, and introducing an objective and critical dimension into one’s relationships with others. The fact of being appreciated or not by a vague acquaintance or a member distant from the emotional circle should no longer be a trigger for altruistic action.


In practice: before helping or giving, ask yourself. How intimate and involved am I in this relationship? What is my real motivation? Is my help, my gift, the fruit of my guilt,
the desire to buy peace, the need to be recognized or accepted? Is there reciprocity in this relationship?

3. Healthy conflict is good for the relationship

With rare exceptions, no one likes to argue with those close to them. The pleaser even less than the others, because avoiding conflict is his motto. Miscalculation.
Circumventing disagreement – sweeping crumbs under the rug – not only prevents the expression of emotions and problems, but also blocks the emergence of that which could improve or heal the connection. Setting things straight, welcoming criticism and being able to address it is the essential basis of a lively and adult relationship. Provided that verbal violence (insults, threats) – and physical obviously – is excluded from the exchange.

In practice: assume that everyone has the right to express what they think and feel while being respectful and respected. From there, practice expressing your disagreement on a daily basis, starting with very simple, mundane things.
“No thanks, I’m not hungry anymore”, “I don’t want to watch this film”, “I don’t want to get up early this weekend”, etc.. Don’t go into long explanations. To help you, remember this Zen adage which says: “Hot, cold, you experience it. »Your personal feelings and needs belong to you, you do not have to justify them and they do not have to be validated by others.

4. What you feel and think is valuable

The pleaser feels and thinks of himself, a priori, “less” than the others. For example, he will not be offended by being forgotten or treated or served less well than his loved ones or colleagues, even if it hurts him. To escape his “second zone” condition, he must first convince himself of his value. This is of course long-term work, for which it is always better to be accompanied by a therapist. This should not prevent him from changing his behavior day after day.

In practice: practice treating yourself at least as you treat others. You would never advise someone you care about to serve others, to neglect themselves or to sacrifice themselves. Do the same for yourself, start with everyday life: don’t take care of your loved ones (family, colleagues), do not collect more chores, give yourself pleasure breaks. When you criticize yourself or devalue yourself, ask yourself who this voice really belongs to, where it comes from, then deconstruct its message point by point, as if you were speaking to a loved one to
“decondition” it. Remember that what you admire in others, you also have in yourself. This quality, this talent, this singularity waits to be awakened and cared for with tenderness and constancy.

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