From The Daniel Island News

Are you a people pleaser?
By Steve Ferber
Oct 23, 2013 - 8:58:04 AM

At times, of course, we all are. But there’s a meaningful distinction between “people pleasing” and “cooperation.”  Explains author Jay Earley, PhD: “People pleasing is really an extreme version of cooperation. If you have what’s called a ‘Cooperation Pattern’ you can work with others smoothly without giving up your way of doing things.”
What does the People Pleasing Pattern look like?  Says Earley: “When this pattern is activated, we have a hard time saying No or setting limits. We tend to avoid conflict. We want other people’s approval, and even more importantly, we want to avoid other people’s disapproval.”
Cooperation or People Pleasing?  Earley points out that if you have a Cooperation Pattern, “you like to empower others, but not at your own expense. You want to resolve conflict, not avoid it. You like to make other people feel good, but you don’t ignore your own needs, thoughts, or desires in the process. In short, you can cooperate without automatically complying. This is because your motivation for cooperating comes from a desire for connection or accomplishment, not from a need to please.”
Mike Bundrant, writing for, explains that people pleasing can lead to chronic stress and can manifest itself in a variety of ways. For example: social anxiety, neglecting your own needs, overeating or overdrinking (to go along with the crowd), loneliness and, at times, self-loathing (because you’re not standing up for yourself).
Concludes Bundrant: “Serving others is noble, but chronic people pleasing at the expense of your own needs is self-sabotage.”
Leon Seltzer, PhD, writing for, maintains that “the solution for people-pleasers . . . is to learn how to become more self-validating.” Adds Seltzer: “ . . . I’m certainly not advocating that you become selfish, that you make your preferences your one and only priority. Rather, I'm suggesting you remind yourself that your needs are as important as anyone else's, and that you should avoid going along with someone else's agenda simply because it's always been your ‘line of least resistance.’ Do things for others because you really care about them—not simply because you're afraid they'd abandon you if you didn't.”
Seltzer advocates an “attitudinal transformation,” that is, “learning over time how to come from a place of genuine self-deserving.”  
He explains: “Gently and reassuringly (but firmly as well), the child-self needs to be repeatedly reminded that they have a perfect right both to assert their needs and to say no whenever a request or demand feels unfair or excessive to them. Over and over they need to get the new and revised message that their own wants and desires are legitimate and important, and that it's safe to hold onto them even when they differ from another's.”
And Seltzer addresses the all-too-familiar conundrum when interacting with relatives. Suggests Seltzer: “ . . . it doesn't make much sense to keep in your life people who lack a sincere interest in your welfare. Additionally, as an adult, realize that you also have the right to minimize, or avoid altogether, family members who are unable or unwilling to treat you with the consideration and respect you're entitled to.”

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