People-pleasing is a pervasive issue that, much like perfectionism, can have far-reaching negative consequences in one’s life. While the desire to make others happy might seem benign, the cost of people-pleasing can manifest in various detrimental ways. Understanding these costs is the first step towards reclaiming your authenticity, well-being, and personal growth. By embracing evidence-based strategies and seeking professional support e.g, life coaching, it’s possible to navigate away from people-pleasing behaviours and towards a more fulfilling and balanced life.

The Detrimental Effects of People-Pleasing

Research suggests that people-pleasing, or sociotropy, can lead to significant emotional strain, including a loss of authenticity and an increase in stress and anxiety. This behaviour pattern is linked to depression and can cause individuals to compromise their core values and needs in an attempt to appease others, often resulting in feelings of resentment and a disconnection from oneself (Psychology Today, 2023).

People-pleasing behaviours can also severely impact relationships and personal growth. Efforts to constantly satisfy others’ expectations can lead to imbalanced relationships and a lack of genuine connection, as people-pleasers tend to hide their true selves. This behaviour can also stifle personal growth opportunities and lead to diminished self-confidence, as individuals may shy away from asserting themselves or pursuing their own goals (Mental Health Match, 2023; Wellspring Counseling, 2023).

Overview of the “Cost Categories” that People Pleasing Negatively Affects

  1. Emotional Costs
  • Loss of Authenticity: Constantly suppressing your own needs for others erodes your sense of self.
  • Increased Stress and Anxiety: The endless pursuit of others’ approval triggers chronic stress.
  • Feelings of Resentment: Sacrificing your needs leads to resentment towards yourself and others.
  1. Physical Health Costs
  • Exhaustion: Overcommitment leads to physical and emotional burnout.
  • Stress-Related Health Issues: Chronic stress can manifest in serious health conditions.
  1. Relationship Costs
  • Imbalanced Relationships: Constant giving without receiving creates one-sided relationships.
  • Lack of Genuine Connection: Pleasing behaviours prevent the formation of authentic connections.
  1. Career and Personal Growth Costs
  • Missed Opportunities: Avoiding assertiveness can lead to missed growth opportunities.
  • Diminished Confidence: Habitual deference erodes self-confidence and decision-making abilities.
  1. Opportunity Costs
  • Neglected Personal Goals: Your aspirations take a backseat to others’ needs. You abandon your own true desires and dreams, maybe you lose sight of what they really are.
  • Time Loss: Time spent pleasing others is time not spent on fulfilling personal desires.

Reflecting on these costs, ask yourself: How much does people-pleasing dictate my choices and happiness?

Addressing the Cost: Beyond Realisation

To address these issues, experts recommend becoming more aware of people-pleasing tendencies and gradually implementing strategies such as setting boundaries, practicing assertiveness, and prioritising one’s own needs. Seeking professional guidance, such as life coaching, can be particularly beneficial in understanding the underlying needs and beliefs that drive people-pleasing behaviours and finding a new way of operating (Mental Health Match, 2023; Wellspring Counseling, 2023).

Incorporating Evidence-Based Life Coaching

For those looking to overcome the pitfalls of people-pleasing by developing new life skills, evidence-based life coaching offers a comprehensive approach.

Utilising methodologies from Cognitive Behavioural Coaching, Solution Focused Coaching, Positive Psychology, and Transformational Coaching, this approach can help individuals develop healthier relationships with time and people-pleasing. By focusing on scientifically-proven methods, individuals can learn to assert their needs, pursue their goals, and live more authentically.

Transform Your Relationship with Time and Overcome People-Pleasing

People-pleasing often leads to a misalignment between how we wish to allocate our time and how we actually do. This misalignment comes from a place of wanting to be liked, approved of, or simply to avoid conflict. However, this comes at a cost:

  • Overcommitment: Saying yes to everyone else’s requests can fill your calendar with tasks that align more with others’ priorities than your own, leaving little room for personal or important tasks.
  • Stress and Inefficiency: The stress of trying to meet everyone’s expectations can impair your ability to focus and be productive, further eroding your time management effectiveness.
  • Neglected Priorities: Constantly prioritising others’ needs can mean your own goals and aspirations are perpetually put on the back burner, delaying or even preventing you from achieving them.

To navigate from realisation to transformation, I’ve created the Time Mastery Toolkit. This free resource is designed to help you reclaim your time and priorities, fostering a life of fulfilment and authenticity. By recognising the ways in which people-pleasing is hindering your time management, you can start to make intentional choices about how you spend your time, set healthy boundaries, and prioritise tasks that align with your values and goals.

Download the Time Mastery Toolkit here.

With this toolkit, you’ll learn strategies not just for better time management, but for living authentically—saying no when necessary and yes to what truly matters to you. It’s about making conscious decisions that honour your needs and aspirations as much as you respect those of others.

Embrace the journey towards a more balanced and fulfilling life, where your time management is a reflection of your true priorities, not those imposed by the habit of people-pleasing.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Sophie

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References

Exline, J. (2014). People Pleasing: Short-Term Benefits and Long-Term Costs. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/light-and-shadow/201409/people-pleasing-short-term-benefits-and-long-term-costs

Carter, C. (2016). Why It Doesn’t Pay to be a People-Pleaser. Greater Good Magazine. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_it_doesnt_pay_to_be_a_people_pleaser

Malone, M. (2022). Understanding The Costs of People-Pleasing. Mental Health Match. Retrieved from https://articles.mentalhealthmatch.com/relationships/understanding-costs-of-people-pleasing

Beneath the Smile: The Cost of People-Pleasing. (n.d.). Wellspring Counseling. Blog Post from Mario de Armas and Nicole Velez Alfonso. Retrieved from https://www.wellspringmiami.org/blog/2023/8/24/people-pleasing