Making Everyone Happy: The Dangers
Why do people become ‘people pleasers’?
In life, many people take on the role of being a people-pleaser or an accommodator. They make it their job to ensure that those they care about are happy and loved and are willing to bend over backwards and sacrifice their own happiness in order to put others first. Often though, these people are routinely disappointed to find that their efforts aren’t reciprocated or even appreciated. So, why do people try so hard to make everyone else happy? In infancy, we learn that to earn the love and affection of our caregivers we need to act in ways that are rewarded. For example, cute smiles and giggles often result in cuddles and affection from our parents. Whilst these behaviours are almost essential in the early stages of our lives, as we grow and can start to take better care of ourselves, many people shed these behavioural traits in favour of other ways to get what they want – some people however, keep these learned behaviours with them even though it is actually no longer their best option to receive back what they want from others.
If you are a people pleaser, you might want your friends and family to be happy all the time, but always putting others’ emotional happiness before your own can be detrimental for your mental health. By spending all your energy on making them feel better, you neglect your own emotions and find yourself in a cycle of hiding your true feelings and feeling stressed when you fail in making someone happy. Not only this, but you might find that time and time again those that you are trying so hard to please reject you in return. Most people don’t actually like being around people they perceive to be ‘pushovers’ and many adults feel more comfortable in the company of people who are secure in themselves. Relationships that are more equal usually work to make both parties feel happier which is why it is so important for people-pleasers to learn ways to shift their behavioural patterns so that they and those they love can find happiness.
While it is a good trait to care about the feelings of others and act in loving ways, people shouldn’t live in a situation where their own needs are never met. While it is good to care about other people’s feelings, you should always be aware of your own happiness. Read on to learn more about the dangers of trying too hard with others and how you can find yourself again and reclaim your enjoyment in life.
You Aren’t Open About Your Feelings
When you are trying to please everyone else, you often hide your own feelings so much that they never truly see them. Maybe your mother is overbearing and tries to run your life, which you accept with a fake smile on your face just to make her happy. Even though you hate how much she still controls what you do, you don’t want to upset her by telling her the truth. This is a common complaint from people-pleasers who do anything to make sure the people around them are happy. To do this, people often have to sacrifice their happiness, hiding their true feelings because they are afraid of letting people down. If your friends aren’t understanding of anxiety, you might hide your sadness when seeing or speaking to them and adopt a false happy persona to keep the mood light for them. If your partner is going through a rough patch, you might feel like expressing your frustration at a situation might make them feel unsupported, so you hide it behind false smiles and put their needs first.
It’s actually common to see accommodating characteristics between counsellors and clients who have come in for the very reason of wanting to become more assertive. Sometimes, if a ‘people-pleasing’ client doesn’t feel like they are making enough progress, they will hide their real emotions, thinking this will make their therapist feel better. But that’s not the case. Counsellors want to see true progress with those they work with, no matter how long it takes. Hiding your feelings will only make the process longer and leave you unsatisfied.
Face Extra Stress When People Aren’t Happy
Trying to make everyone happy can be a struggle, and when you fail to please someone, you can send yourself into a spiral of stress and depression. Trying to please everyone 24/7 can become a lifestyle habit that’s hard to get rid of. When you encounter someone you can’t please with your words or actions, it can become a shock you are unable to bear. You may work extra hard trying to make this person happy, no matter the consequences. Because it’s become your mission to put others before you, when someone isn’t happy it can feel like a personal failure.
The extra stress created from this can have a detrimental effect on your mental and physical health. Failure can lead to self-hatred and perhaps lead to more serious issues like depression and anxiety. Physically, stress can cause many different problems like insomnia, leaving you constantly exhausted and lacking energy throughout the day. Headaches, acne, chronic pain and frequent sickness are also common, making life even more stressful, which only adds to the cycle of symptoms. More serious physical issues created from stress involve digestive problems and appetite changes, which can affect your diet and energy levels greatly.
You Struggle to Accept that Life Isn’t Perfect
If you’re always trying to make people happy, you probably envision a perfect world where there is no sadness and pain. However, this isn’t reality. The annoyance and upset you feel when you can’t make a person happy also reflects onto your personal life. If something goes wrong or is less than perfect, you may find this hard to accept and experience increased stress and anxiety. For example, if something at work isn’t perfect or is cancelled, you might find it hard to come to terms with this. You question what went wrong and where, but instead of looking for a definite answer that could help you next time, you refuse to accept this could even happen in the first place.
As a people-pleaser you rarely place your own emotions above those of others, you expect those around you to be happy all the time. However, in reality this constant expectation from you can actually lead that person to feel uncomfortable and stressed out. People might feel like they have to act a certain way around you and lead them to want to spend less time with you.
Take Care of Your Own Needs
The dangers associated with trying to make everyone happy are serious, and once you recognise the issue you have, you should strive to work against it. The best way to start is to remember to think about your own needs and emotions. When you put other’s happiness above your own, you are telling yourself that your needs aren’t as important as theirs – which is wrong. Try to identify your needs, any negative emotions you have and other important things that you may have neglected during your time as a people-pleaser.
This might feel like strange behaviour for you at the start and can be hard, but over time it should become normal. Start pulling away from other’s issues that don’t involve you and care less about people’s happiness who aren’t close to you. Imagine what it can be like to say no instead of yes all the time and care about yourself. If this is difficult for you, speaking with a counsellor can help you come back to yourself and give you advice and tactics to put yourself first more often.
Surround Yourself With the Right People
Often, people constantly feel like they have to make other people happy because of the way they make them feel. If someone is aware you are spending your energy on their emotions and don’t talk to you about it, they could be taking advantage. However, because you just want them to be happy, you don’t recognise this and just think you are doing the right thing.
Try and limit the people you surround yourself with to your close friends and family who will want you to start prioritising yourself. This can be your partner, children, immediate family and dear friends who will support and love you. Giving time to those who don’t really care about you will only waste your own emotions, energy and in some cases money. Casual acquaintances or needy friends, as harmless as they seem, will only make your desire to please stronger. Letting them go and focusing more on yourself will benefit you and those you really care about in the long run.
Understand There Will Be Negativity
A further step to overcoming your need to make everyone happy is to realise that the world isn’t perfect and there will be times of hardship for yourself and others. The world isn’t perfect, as much as we want it to be, and people will have to make it through grief, sadness and anger. We can often react to negative emotions like these with uncomfortable nerves and even overlook them altogether to try and keep the peace. However, neglecting the situation can only make it worse, and perhaps lead to repressed emotions surfacing later on in life.
By pretending that negativity doesn’t exist in the world, you bury issues that need addressing. Speaking with a counsellor, you can learn to recognise the real problems in your life and tackle them effectively without damaging your mental health. You will learn to comprehend that you can’t change some things or some people and accept the world around you for what it is.
Don’t waste more months or years of your life trying to make others happy, ignoring your own happiness. Recognise that you need to prioritise yourself and look after your mental health. Some people may find this difficult, and working with a counsellor can help you work towards creating your own happiness. I have a wealth of experience helping “people-pleasers” to ground themselves and move forward with their lives in a healthy way. For more information on the services I offer, contact me today.