I recently discovered a great resource for those of us who are People Pleasers. The title is The Disease to Please by Harriet Braiker, PhD.
If you’re not sure if you are a people pleaser you can answer the following questions in her book. If you live with a people pleaser or know one, perhaps you would pass this information along to him/her.
Most people learn to be pleasers early in life though interactions with significant adults in the home. Though pleasers do well with surface relationships and brief encounters, they struggle with more long lasting and deep relationships. At some point the ‘niceness” can begin to mask thoughts and emotions that closeness to others requires. Over time the partners/spouses of pleasers become discouraged at not knowing the real person behind the mask of pleasing and hunger for honest interaction.
Toxic thoughts, habits, or fear of negative emotion or encounters tend to drive pleasers. Intended kindness can come across as control and manipulation, or as avoidance of any depth of personal discovery.
Here is the questionnaire:
DISEASE TO PLEASE QUESTIONNAIRE
Harriet Braiker, PhD
Put True or False for each question.
1. It’s extremely important to me to be liked by nearly everyone in my life.
2. I believe nothing good can come from conflict.
3. My needs should take a back seat to the needs of people I love.
4. I expect myself to rise above conflict and confrontation.
5. I often do too much for other people or even let myself be used, so I won’t be rejected for other reasons.
6. I have always needed the approval of other people.
7. It’s much easier for me to acknowledge negative feelings about myself than to express negative feelings toward others.
8. I believe if I make other people need me because of all the things I do for them, I won’t be left alone.
9. I’m hooked on doing things for others and pleasing them.
10. I go to great lengths to avoid conflict or confrontation with my family, friends, and coworkers.
11. I’m likely to do all the things to make others happy before I do anything just for myself.
12. I almost never stand up to others in order to protect myself because I’m too afraid of getting an angry response or provoking a confrontation.
13. If I stop putting others’ needs before my own, I would become a selfish person and people would no longer like me.
14. Having to face a confrontation or conflict with anybody makes me feel so anxious that I almost get physically sick.
15. It is very difficult for me to express criticism even if it is constructive because I don’t want to make anyone angry with me.
16. I must always please others even at the expense of my own feelings.
17. I have to give of myself all the time in order to be worthy of love.
18. I believe that nice people get approval, affection, and friendship of others.
19. I must never let other people down by failing to do everything they expect of me even when I know that the demands are excessive or unreasonable.
20. Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to “buy” the love and friendship of others by doing so many nice things to please them.
21. It makes me very anxious and uncomfortable to say or do anything that might make another person angry with me.
22. I rarely delegate tasks to others.
23. I feel guilty when I say “no” to requests or needs of others.
24. I would think that I’m a bad person if I didn’t give of myself all the time to those around me.
Score of 16-24 means your people pleasing is deeply ingrained and may take a toll on your emotional and physical heath.
Score of 10-15 means the symptoms are moderately severe and the destructive pattern requires attention before it gets worse.
Score of 5-9 means you have a moderate problem and have developed some strengths to self-defeating tendencies.
Score of 4 or less means you may have only a mild tendency to please at present.
Notice your true statements and see if you can tell if you are more inclined to have people pleasing mindsets, or people pleasing habits, or people pleasing feelings.
If you’d like to do some work on this, you can read Harriet’s book and do the exercises; you can do some therapy around the tendency; or you can find other resources for personal change. No matter what you decide to do, changing this behavior will decrease stress and improve relationships with yourself and with others.
Happy New Year and Happy New You,