Pleasen: what are the characteristics?
If you display pleasant behavior, you put the needs and wishes of others above yourself in the first place. You like to please and most of the time you enjoy helping others. It’s in your natural behavior. In addition, you tend to neglect yourself and want to maintain harmony. Also, you often apologize for yourself and your behavior, even when it’s not necessary. That’s what I call the “sorry syndrome”.
That looks something like this:
“sorry to say it, but I’d rather do something else”
“Perhaps a very strange question, but….”
“Unfortunately I can’t come, sorry…”
“Sorry, can I ask you something…”
People who please generally also have a lot of trouble with feeling, setting and guarding boundaries. There are quite a few overlaps with features of HSP. Many HSPs also display pleaser behavior, because they have difficulty recognizing and recognizing boundaries and saying no.
So even though on the surface pleasing may seem very healthy and altruistic, it isn’t when you look at the underlying layer and where it comes from. Pleasure is done based on your own need; not to disappoint the other. You adapt, don’t want to take up too much space, cover yourself or say what you think the other person would like to hear because you don’t want him/her to get mad at you. To keep the peace.
But the message you unconsciously convey with this is: what I say does not matter, my opinion, need or wish is less important than yours. Underlying pleases are therefore driven by fear and a strong feeling of inferiority towards another. You could essentially call that an unhealthy way of thinking because your self-esteem is not dependent on anyone else.
And where there is nothing wrong with taking others into account, pleasing turns into unhealthy behavior because it is at the expense of yourself. In doing so, you continuously go beyond your own limits, ignoring your own needs and denying yourself. If pleasing becomes your autopilot, it will eventually start to wriggle. You cannot endlessly efface yourself and put others first.
In fact, it is even necessary to put yourself at number 1 more often because otherwise, you cannot be there for anyone else at all. That’s the irony of the story. By taking care of yourself first, you can better help others. The simplest example of this is always the airplane metaphor; you have to put on your own oxygen mask first, then the others.
Where did you learn it?
You should now have a clear picture of pleasing and maybe you recognize yourself in this. Before you end up in a negative internal dialogue in which you talk yourself into the ground or speak sternly, it is not your fault and you should not be ashamed of it at all.
Do you realize that you once learned this behavior, this survival mechanism? When you needed it. Probably as a child, when you couldn’t stand up for yourself and were completely dependent on your parents or those who raised you. Somewhere in your childhood, you taught yourself that others are more important than you and you linked your self-esteem and your raison d’être (whether you were a ‘good/sweet boy/girl) to getting external approval.
The good news is that you have learned this and that you have come to believe a belief and as a result exhibit certain behavior. That means that you can also unlearn it and put healthier behavior in return.
Everything always starts with awareness. The next step is examining the underlying beliefs. Ask yourself. Do you really need someone else’s approval? Can you put yourself first? Are you worth nothing anymore?