Recovering People Pleasers

Do you find yourself wanting to make everyone happy, even if it means you are not? Have you hidden yourself in order to survive in your family? If you answered “yes” to the above, you are not alone. In my counseling practice, I have discovered numerous people pleasers, also known as adapters. After they overcame their issues and felt free to be their unique selves, I called them “Recovering People Pleasers.”

For example, Judy, a thirty-four year-old mother and wife, came to me because she was depressed. “I feel emotionally strangled by my husband,” she said in an angry tone.

Knowing that men and women often marry people like their mothers or fathers, I said, “Judy, go back to the time you felt that way. To her surprise, she regressed back to when she was two-years-old and her parents were yelling at her. She was crying and felt devastated. The decision she made from that experience was, “I have to please them or I will not be safe and loved.”

Then I asked Judy to go inside of her body and find the little girl that she locked up in order to survive in her family. She found little Judy in her heart, all curled up in a fetal position. I encouraged Judy to tell her little girl, “I am an adult now. It is safe to come out and be who you are. I love you. I will take care of you and protect you.” I guided Judy to imagine that she was taking little Judy to her home where she presently lived, to create a special room for the two-year-old, and then to say to the toddler, “This is your room from now on. We will walk life together hand in hand. It is safe to be who we are and we are loved.”

Judy took a deep breath of relief and felt much lighter and happier. She then realized that she chose a man who would fit her belief. I encouraged Judy to express to her husband in a loving way how she felt and what she wanted. I also recommended that she practice win-win problem solving so that they both felt empowered.

Can you relate to Judy’s story? Are you ready to be who you are and express your truth in a positive, loving way? When you don’t, you resent the people around you whom you allow to control you. In a sense, you become a puppet and give them the power to pull your strings. Then you are likely to be passive aggressive and get back at them in deceptive ways.

For example, you may make excuses to avoid being physically intimate, get sick, arrive late, be sarcastic, burn their dinner, or avoid spending time with them. Those negative behaviors are hurtful to them, you, and the relationship. This includes all forms of relationships, including lovers, children, parents, bosses, and friends.

I encourage you to resolve your fears of being who you are so that you can be happy, healthy, and loved. Then you can also be a Recovering People Pleaser.