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People Pleasing

People-pleasing is a behavioural trait that is characterized by a strong desire to meet the expectations of others, sometimes at the expense of one's own needs and desires (Coplan, Hastings, Lagacé-Séguin, & Moulton, 2002). It is often rooted in fear of rejection, a need for validation, or a desire to avoid conflict.

People-pleasers may engage in behaviours such as agreeing to things they do not want to do, sacrificing their own interests to make others happy, or avoiding expressing their true feelings or opinions. While people-pleasing can be helpful in certain situations, such as in customer service roles or building and maintaining relationships, it can also be detrimental to one's mental health and overall well-being.

Prevalence and Causes of People-Pleasing

Research suggests that people-pleasing is a common behaviour among women (Alden, Bieling, & Wallace, 1994). A study by Chang and colleagues (2012) found that people-pleasing behaviours were associated with higher levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. Additionally, people-pleasers may experience a sense of resentment toward the people they are trying to please, as well as guilt and shame for being unable to assert their own needs and boundaries (Marshall, 2017).

The causes of people-pleasing are complex and multifaceted. Some researchers suggest that it may be rooted in childhood experiences, such as being raised in an environment where expressing one's needs and desires was discouraged or punished (Coplan et al., 2002). Others propose that it may be related to cultural and societal expectations that prioritize the needs and desires of others over one's own (Marshall, 2017). Still, others suggest that it may be related to personality traits such as agreeableness

and neuroticism (Alden et al., 1994).

Consequences of People-Pleasing

While people-pleasing behaviours may be helpful in certain situations, such as building and maintaining relationships, they can also have negative consequences. For example, people-pleasers may experience chronic stress and anxiety due to the constant pressure to meet the expectations of others (Chang et al., 2012). They may also experience a sense of resentment towards the people they are trying to please, as well as guilt and shame for being unable to assert their own needs and boundaries (Marshall, 2017). Additionally, people-pleasers may be at risk for developing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety (Chang et al., 2012).

Overcoming People-Pleasing

Overcoming people-pleasing behaviours can be a challenging process, but it is possible. The first step is to recognize and acknowledge the behaviour. This may involve reflecting on past experiences and identifying situations where one engaged in people-pleasing behaviours. It may also involve recognizing the negative consequences of these behaviours, such as chronic stress and anxiety. The next step is to practice assertiveness and boundary-setting. This may involve learning to say "no" to requests or invitations that do not align with one's needs or values. It may also involve expressing one's

opinions and feelings, even if they differ. Learning to set boundaries and assert one's own needs can be challenging for people-pleasers, but it is essential in breaking the people-pleasing cycle.

Additionally, therapy can be a helpful tool in overcoming people-pleasing behaviours. A therapist can help individuals identify the underlying causes of their people-pleasing behaviours and develop strategies for managing them.


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