a topic that has come up repeatedly in the last few weeks both in sessions with my clients and in my personal life is this notion that we have to make those around us happy. sometimes, it is to the extent that our own happiness is pushed to the side or even worse, completely disregarded.
with my clients (most of which are teen girls), there is a recurring theme: a need to please their friends, their love interests and above all, their parents. while there is a great deal of effort that goes into trying to fit in with the right group or be well liked amongst those they have romantic interest in, it seems like parental approval trumps all. i cannot count how many times i have had a crying child in my office over having a 3.96 gpa (when it could be a 4.3), upset about their dress size being a 6 (when it could be a 2), getting eight college acceptance letters (when it could be 11), and the list goes on. when i ask these girls where this pressure stems from or who they are trying to impress, more often than not, the answer is their parents. not only do they become obsessed with pleasing their parents but they become obsessed with pleasing others in an effort to get that validation they are not getting at home. this often leads to being hellbent on sheer perfection (which isn’t attainable in the first place).
over the weekend, i went out on a first date. while the guy i went out with was definitely a gentleman with a kind spirit, i noticed how quickly he would change his views if it was evident that my viewpoint was different. what is interesting is that i would happily date someone with different views as long as they understood and respected my views. i know it is possible to have a different viewpoint but still understand and even empathize with your partner. i don’t want to be with someone i can walk all over. not only is that not fun for me but i do not want to be contributing to silencing someone, even if that isn’t my intention.
not even 24 hours later, i came across this quote and thought it hit the nail on the head.
“people pleasers often start off as parent pleasers.” -alexandra d’amour
i am hoping that my work with my teen clients can aid in their discovery of not feeling the need to please their parents in order to feel accepted or loved fully. i don’t want them to turn into people pleasers who completely disregard their own wants, needs or feelings. it also made me wonder if the guy from my date started off as a parent pleaser and then later morphed into a people pleaser.
what has your experience been with people pleasers whether it be someone you know or even if it is you? if it is you, did you start off as a parent pleaser?