People pleasing is how I survived the insanity of growing up in a home with a demanding mother. By jumping through her hoops I got fed and fewer spankings. However, People pleasing has a negative impact for living everyday. If I run around trying to please everyone else, I don't meet my personal self care and life goals. I essentially give the reigns of my life over to someone else. In abuse situations giving up that freedom to your abuser may mean the difference between life and death, literally. Viktor Frankl's book Man's Search for Meaning written about his experiences in a concentration camp illustrates how prisoners survived by people pleasing. However, I'm no longer in contact with my mother. I am no longer in the neighborhood where I was terrorized. People pleasing now is a stumbling block to self-care and meeting my goals. Of course, I still do things for other people. Service is not People pleasing.
I found a definition of People pleasing that comes close to what I mean:
A People Pleaser is a person who believes that they are less then most others on the planet and have the need to hide these beliefs from all whom they come in contact with. They feel so low that they typically behave like a doormat and frequently put themselves in situations where they are treated as such. A people please will do almost anything to keep others in the dark about what is going on within. Dishonesty, deception and lies are the primary tools used by a People Pleaser. Within the context of an intimate relationship, a People Pleaser will frequently paint illusions that depict what they believe their partner wants to see all the while never disclosing who and what they really are. People Pleaser's also have the tendency to frustrate their partner to no end with this insidious behavior. A People Pleaser's goal is always the same which is to keep anyone from knowing just how crappy they feel about themselves and they will strive for this goal at any cost. A person afflicted with this "disease to please" will typically tell more lies over the course of a lifetime than those with other mental illnesses. People Pleaser's can come in the form of men but are typically women as they are more emotionally based.When a People Pleaser dies, the see the life of someone else flash before their eyes.
Other aspects of a people pleasing behavior, they have no opinions of their own. The other person's goal is their goal. They take the blame for anything that goes wrong, no matter who's fault it might be. They will do things for other people without any regard for themselves. They put their happiness on the other person's shoulders. A people pleasing person is only happy if the other person is happy with what they have done. They tend to give all their decision making and happiness to someone else, making the other person responsible for their well being. They blame those close to them if they are sad. They blame fate or circumstances on their drifting through life. A people pleasing person gives away their personal power to anyone else.
Why do I know all this about people pleasing behavior? Because I did this. Counseling taught me to take back my power. I learned to have an opinion and that my opinion matters. I was retaught how to take personal responsibility for my own happiness. I learned slowly because People pleasing was my go-to survival tool. I struggled with setting my own goals but I am doing it. I struggle with finding my 'Why' for living but with plenty of encouragement I am becoming the person I was meant to be in spite of an abusive childhood.