Pleasing Other People May Be Harmful To You
“Do what's good for you, or you're not good for anybody.”
This is a line from the Billy Joel song “James.” The title character is a people pleaser who has aignored his own needs and devoted his life to doing what everyone else wanted him to do.
Are you a people pleaser like James? Here are some questions to help you decide.
Do you find yourself spending a lot of your time and energy trying to make others happy?
Do you find it difficult to say no to requests, then feel resentful when you get overwhelmed?
Do you often find yourself in relationships in which you become the caretaker for the other person?
Do you try to anticipate the needs of others and wonder why they don't do the same for you?
Do you feel guilty when you do something for yourself?
Do you constantly give to others and feel uncomfortable when others give to you?
Do you often feel used?
Do you feel like you're not good enough?
If your answer to at least two of these questions was “yes,” you may be a people pleaser. If you are, rest assured that you are not alone. And take heart there are things you can do to balance meeting others' needs and your own.
If you're puzzled about the quote at the beginning of this article, picture yourself as having an energy bank. You build up your energy bank balance by doing things that are good for you such as exercising, eating well and doing things you enjoy. If you regularly make deposits into your energy bank, you will have energy available to lend if someone asks you for help. If you don't take care of yourself, though, the amount of energy in your bank will keep decreasing as you make withdrawals to give to other people. Eventually your account will be overdrawn, and you will get annoyed when people still keep asking for more.
So you're ready to start building up that energy bank, right? That depends. Do you know what activities will do this for you? If so, you're ahead of the game; you're ready to start figuring out how to fit energy-renewing activities into your life.
A lot of people pleasers, though, have no idea what to do for themselves. If you are one of these people, you will need to start by figuring out what renews your energy. You may need to try a variety of things before you settle on the activities that are the most energy profitable ones for you. Taking a personality inventory like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) can help. Depending upon the extent of your people pleasing, you might also benefit from working with a professional counselor to help you to change your ways of thinking and behaving.
So, what are you waiting for? Start building up that energy bank balance you (and those who care about you) will be glad you did.