What are People Pleasers?

April S. Kenyon

People pleasers have a psychological condition referred to by some as “the disease to please.” This addiction is characterized by an overwhelming desire in the individual to please others and make everyone happy. In contrast to an altruistic desire to help people, or a general concern for others, people pleasers often possess a compulsive need to please others at all times, regardless of the price to their own health and well-being. People pleasing can lead to a large number of other mental and physical health issues, such as extreme fatigue, mental and physical stress, high blood pressure and even heart attack.

People pleasers have an overwhelming desire to make everyone happy, regardless of what it does to their own health.
People pleasers have an overwhelming desire to make everyone happy, regardless of what it does to their own health.

The addiction of people pleasing should not be confused with altruism, which is a natural concern for others. Altruistic giving includes such activities as lending a helping hand, donating to a worthy cause, or expressing typical acts of kindness. In contrast, people pleasers often have a psychological need to gain approval by continually striving to meet the needs of others. Individuals with this condition generally have feelings of insecurity and a low sense of self-worth.

People pleasers are often plagued with extreme fatigue.
People pleasers are often plagued with extreme fatigue.

To others, people pleasers might appear to be friendly, outgoing, and organized. These individuals often portray people who “have it all together” and are happy, cheerful, and supportive. While these traits are certainly not a negative thing, the fact is that the majority of these people do not feel this way inside. Other people might view a people pleaser as someone who is very giving, successful, and concerned, but the individual often has an entirely different opinion of himself.

People pleasers may experience high blood pressure.
People pleasers may experience high blood pressure.

People who are overly concerned with pleasing others tend to view themselves as being inadequate. Individuals with this psychological condition often feel that it is necessary to continually please others in order to be liked and accepted. A people pleaser generally feels a fear of letting others down and disappointing people. Individuals who have an overwhelming need to please others typically have a fear of rejection and a lack of confidence. They are often unhappy about not being able to please everyone and frequently feel like failures.

People pleasers go out of their way to help others, even at their own expense.
People pleasers go out of their way to help others, even at their own expense.

Health consequences of this psychological condition include both physical and mental ailments. Individuals suffering from this addiction can become extremely depressed as a result of not being able to continually please everyone. People pleasers might develop a lack of trust in others, feelings of worthlessness, and an inability to meet personal goals. Physical health problems include elevated blood pressure, high levels of stress, and general fatigue.

People pleasers try to be overly emotionally supportive for friends and family.
People pleasers try to be overly emotionally supportive for friends and family.

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Discussion Comments

anon335589

I'm still learning to please and love myself. I concur with the comment that people pleasures missed something as a children attention that is from their parent/s. I'm a nurse and I battle with not being able to help or please people all the time. But when I expect someone to please me, I'm always disappointed.

candyquilt

I have been a people pleaser my whole life. Everything in this article is completely true for me. I have been to a psychologist but nothing seems to have changed.

I agree with the previous comment about mechanical thinking. I think this is how my brain works. I actually read recently that our personality forms much earlier than we knew, while we are toddlers even. The relationships with parents and how a child interprets the environment has so much impact on how that child views the world and reacts to it.

I think that there is something deeper that has caused me to be a people pleaser. It might have been the desire to please parents and receive recognition, attention and more love from them when I was a child. I'm really not sure. But I think that it is a very difficult thing to break through. I haven't lost hope though. I'm going to keep discovering myself until I resolve whatever it is that is causing me to feel this way.

discographer

I don't know how someone could stop being a people pleaser without valuing and loving one's self. It wouldn't be a permanent change unless you realized how important and wonderful you are and also recognize that giving others priority at all times is harming you and your health. And it's not just psychological, it's physically harmful as well.

I think a therapist or a counselor could help with these issues. When I took counseling during college, my counselor had some really nice self-esteem practices he had me do. I don't like to think of this thought system as an illness. I think it's a habit, a mechanized way of thinking and feeling. But if you receive professional support and support from family, I don't think it's impossible to overcome.

turquoise

I used to be a people pleaser and might still be to some extent. I am trying not to be anymore because I have developed anxiety because of it and I am always disappointed.

I've always tried to help others, be there for them and be the best friend, best daughter, best sister possible. But I feel that my efforts are not really appreciated and I don't get the same kind of effort and kindness in return. I just end up being stressed and worried because I've spent my money and time for other people, leaving very little for me. For example, I have been in financial difficulty many times because I supported my sibling who couldn't find a job. But I did not get any gratefulness in return.

I think ever since I've realized that it is not really possible to please others, I've decided I'd rather please myself.

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