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Why people pleasing is not a virtue

The dark side of being an empath

Being nice and allowing people to have what they want is often considered a desirable trait, especially for those who identify as empaths.

However, this notion is misguided and can have disastrous consequences. In this article, we'll delve into the dark side of people pleasing and why it's not a virtue, but often a manifestation of low self-esteem and past trauma problems.

The root causes of people pleasing

People pleasing often stems from a deep-seated belief that one's self-worth is contingent on the approval of others.

This belief can be formed in childhood, through experiences that lead us to believe that our value is tied to how well we perform or how much we're liked by others.

For some, this belief is rooted in childhood trauma, such as abuse or neglect, which can leave us feeling like we have to earn love and approval from others.

For others, low self-esteem may be to blame, leading us to believe that we're not good enough on our own and that we need to constantly prove ourselves to others.

The reality is that no amount of pleasing others will ever fully satisfy one's own sense of self-worth. In fact, people pleasing can often lead to feelings of resentment and burnout, as the pleaser is sacrificing their own needs and wants for the sake of others.

It's a trap that's easy to fall into, but one that's difficult to escape from. The illusion of people pleasing is that it will bring happiness and fulfillment, but in reality, it only leads to emptiness and exhaustion.

The magnetism of abusers

People pleasers have a unique and unfortunate quality that makes them a magnet for abusive individuals.

Like a moth to a flame, they are drawn to toxic relationships that leave them feeling drained and mistreated. This is because they are willing to tolerate abuse in the name of pleasing others, and unfortunately, abusive individuals know how to exploit this vulnerability to their advantage.

People pleasers have a deep-rooted need for validation, and they will often go to great lengths to make others happy. They want to be loved and appreciated, and they are willing to make sacrifices for those they care about.

This can be a beautiful and selfless quality, but it can also be a dangerous trap for those who fall into the hands of an abuser.

An abuser knows how to exploit this need for validation, and they use it to control and manipulate their victim.

They may shower their victim with compliments and gifts, making them feel special and loved. But as soon as their victim starts to question the relationship or push back against their demands, the abuser's behavior quickly turns abusive. They may become controlling, demanding, and even violent.

The consequences of this dynamic can be devastating, both physically and emotionally. People pleasers may find themselves trapped in a cycle of abuse, unable to break free from their abuser's grasp.

They may feel ashamed and embarrassed, unable to confide in friends and family about what they're going through. The longer they remain in the relationship, the harder it becomes to leave, and the more damaging the effects of the abuse will be.

The price of pleasing: The high cost of accommodating others

We've all heard the saying "you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time." However, for some individuals, this idea of constantly pleasing others becomes a way of life.

The desire to be liked and accepted can lead them to sacrifice their own needs and wants in order to accommodate others. While this may seem like a noble gesture, the cost of people pleasing is far greater than one might realize.

The toll on the pleaser

Pleasing others takes its toll on the pleaser in several ways.

For starters, constantly putting others first can lead to feelings of burnout and resentment.

The pleaser may feel as though they are being taken advantage of and that their own needs and wants are being ignored. Over time, this can lead to chronic stress, which can have a negative impact on both physical and mental health.

The danger of people pleasing lies in the fact that it can become a vicious cycle. The more the pleaser accommodates others, the more others come to expect it. This can result in a never-ending cycle of sacrifice, leaving the pleaser feeling exhausted and resentful.

Undermining personal agency

Another cost of people pleasing is that it can undermine personal agency.

By constantly accommodating the needs of others, the pleaser is sending a message that their own needs and boundaries are not important. This can lead to toxic relationships where others come to view the pleaser as a doormat.

Over time, this can erode the pleaser's sense of self and leave them feeling trapped and powerless.

The ripple effect

The cost of people pleasing extends beyond just the pleaser. It also affects those around them.

When the pleaser accommodates others at their own expense, it sends a message that it is okay to ignore the needs and wants of others. This can create a toxic cycle of accommodation that extends far beyond just the pleaser.

The benefits of setting boundaries

Imagine you're climbing a mountain, and as you make your ascent, you notice that the air gets thinner and thinner. But instead of turning back, you push forward, determined to reach the summit. This is what it's like for people pleasers who don't set boundaries in their lives. T

hey keep climbing higher and higher, taking on more and more responsibility, until they're gasping for air, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

Setting boundaries is like putting on an oxygen mask on a plane - it's a self-care tool that helps you maintain control and preserve your well-being. When you set boundaries, you're telling yourself and others that your own needs and wants are just as important as anyone else's.

The power of "no"

Many people pleasers struggle with saying "no." They feel guilty, worried that they'll hurt someone's feelings or lose their affection. But in reality, saying "no" is a powerful tool that helps you assert yourself and take control of your life.

Think of it this way - when you say "yes" to something, you're essentially handing over control of your time and energy to someone else.

But when you say "no," you're keeping that control for yourself. This allows you to prioritize your own well-being and take care of your own needs.

Clearer relationships

In addition to helping you prioritize your own needs, setting boundaries also leads to clearer and healthier relationships. When you establish clear expectations and boundaries, it creates mutual respect between you and the other person.

For example, imagine you have a friend who constantly asks you to drop everything and help them with their problems. By setting boundaries, you can explain that you're happy to help, but only during certain times or for a set amount of time.

This way, you're able to maintain your own life and schedule, while still being a supportive friend.

A journey, not a destination

Setting boundaries is a journey, not a destination. It takes practice and patience, and it's okay if you slip up along the way. The most important thing is that you keep trying, and that you stay true to your own needs and wants.

So if you're feeling overwhelmed and like you're gasping for air, know that setting boundaries can help. Just like reaching the summit of a mountain, it may be a challenging climb, but the view from the top is worth it.

Overcoming the people pleasing habit

Here are the main 5 steps to follow for breaking the people pleasing habit.

Step 1: Identify the root cause

The first step in overcoming people pleasing is to understand why you engage in this behavior. Some common reasons include a lack of self-esteem, a desire for approval and validation, or a fear of conflict.

Take some time to reflect on your own motivations and write them down in a journal.

Step 2: Establish your own values and beliefs

People pleasing often stems from a lack of a strong sense of self.

To combat this, it's important to identify and establish your own values and beliefs.

Take the time to define what you stand for, what's important to you, and what makes you happy. This will give you a foundation to build from and make it easier to set boundaries with others.

Step 3: Learn to say no

Saying no can be difficult, especially if you're used to putting others first. But learning to say no is an important step in breaking the people pleasing habit. Start small by saying no to minor requests and gradually work your way up to bigger ones.

Remember that it's okay to prioritize your own needs and boundaries.

Step 4: Surround yourself with supportive individuals

Having supportive friends and family members can make a huge difference in breaking the people pleasing habit.

Surround yourself with individuals who respect your boundaries and value your well-being. This will give you the strength and encouragement you need to stick to your newfound independence.

Step 5: Practice self-care

Self-care is an essential part of breaking the people pleasing habit and developing a strong sense of self-worth. Engage in activities that bring you joy and make you feel good, such as exercise, meditation, and journaling.

Take care of your physical and emotional well-being and remember that your own happiness and well-being should be a priority.

Embracing self-care and breaking free from the cycle of people pleasing can be difficult, but it can also be a transformative experience. It's like a phoenix rising from the ashes, discovering a new sense of purpose and direction in life. It can lead to greater happiness and fulfillment, not just for the empath, but for those around them as well.

In conclusion, people pleasing is not a virtue, but can be a dangerous trap that can lead to burnout, loss of identity, and a cycle of unhappiness.

Empaths need to recognize the importance of self-care and make their own happiness a priority.

By breaking free from the cycle of people pleasing, they can experience a transformative journey of self-discovery and greater fulfillment in life.

Written by Adewale Ademuyiwa


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