Why People-Pleasers Don’t Get the Love and Respect They Desire
“Niceness is the psychological armor of the people-pleaser.” ~Harriet B. Braiker
I used to think that being kind, gentle, and agreeable was guaranteed to win me love and acceptance from others. I’d tiptoe around destructive people’s behaviors, no matter how uncomfortable I felt about it, believing to my core that if only I could be nice enough to them, they would one day lead a better life.
I lived my life constantly avoiding anything that might make me look like a bad, imperfect, antagonistic, or unlikeable person. Because as every people-pleaser knows, being disliked or disapproved of feels worse than ignoring your own feelings—at least at first.
Some people were easy to please; a kind gesture or smile was all it would take. Getting their approval so effortlessly made me happier than a kid at Disney World. But with other people, it seemed the more I tried to please them, the more likely they were to treat me like an old dish rag; and the more this happened, the less I liked myself.
Eventually, my efforts to please others left me feeling disrespected, violated, and disconnected—from life, from other people, and from myself.
For many years, I silently endured the ongoing, relentless invalidation of who I was based on how others treated me. When someone close to me was feeling unsatisfied, negative, or in search of someone to blame, there I was, ready to take it.
But no matter how unhappy I was, I still wanted to make them feel better. I wanted to see them happy, even at my own expense.
At the core of these one-sided relationships I maintained with some of the perpetually dissatisfied people in my life was an enduring belief that if only I could solve their problems and make them happy, I’d finally receive the love and acceptance I desired all my life.