Altruism – the selfless concern for the well-being of others – is advisable for so many reasons. But thinking people will reciprocate your kindness if you are nice to them is just naive. I know, because I’ve been “Mr. Nice Guy” before.
In this article, we will discuss about “people pleasing” and how to stop being the “Mr. Nice Guy”.
Is Being Too Nice A Problem?
Being nice to people is a good thing, but being too nice leads to hiding who you are and what you want, which prevents people from understanding or taking you seriously. Most times, this leads to being disregarded or ignored; which consequently forces you to become unhappy, or passive-aggressive.
I was so nice that Insects were not to be harmed around me, no matter the reason.
So nice I’d say “yes” to whatever the “big boys” ask of me just to get a pass into their faction.
So nice to speak up in past relationships because I was afraid to rock the boat – afraid that if I said something contrary, I would lose her to another guy.
I wanted to look good and be accepted by everyone.
This was a huge mistake I couldn’t realize at the time.
But how naive is this belief; “if I am all nice, and caring that in return I would be loved and feel fulfilled.” ?
In retrospect, no matter how nice I was, I was bitten by insects on numerous occasions.
I wasn’t respected by the big boys in secondary school
Neither did my relationship with my Ex endure.
There is a subtle difference between being nice, and ignoring yourself or letting people walk all over you.
How Can I Tell If I’m A People Pleaser?
Almost all “Mr. Nice Guys” share similar deteriorating mental and emotional inclination that eventually accentuates their worst nightmares irrespective of who they are.
If you are a people pleaser, you are most likely to exhibit the following behaviors
- Give merely because it makes you look and feel good.
- Constantly seek approval from others, even when it’s unnecessary.
- Perceive avoiding conflict or deep/hard conversation, to be noble or rewarding.
- Always try to prove your morality, which (makes you insufferable).
- Repress emotions from unresolved past (likely from early childhood experience).
- Often sacrifice your happiness to please your loved ones to attract attention to your benevolence.
- Feel that other people’s needs should come before yours, just to “convince” yourself of your sweet and moral character,
If any of the aforementioned behaviors describe you, you may be suffering from “people pleasing” and have serious work to do
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What Is Wrong With People Pleasing
Indeed, on the surface, some of these traits may be perceived as virtues preached in Sunday schools. But just as Dr. Robert Clover (a dating expert for men and a family/marriage therapist ) would say; these “Nice guys aren’t Nice” Because their nice acts come from a place of insecurity or a protracted, untreated wound.
According to him, children’s developmental experiences are mostly responsible for the Mr. Nice guy syndrome.
At the early stages of development, most children feel vulnerable and lost. And, when this is not properly resolved, this experience can grow in them like an infection, causing them to develop a stigma or survival mechanism based on their fragile, naive perspective of the world, which could cause more cracks in the core of their personalities.
For instance, someone who felt abandoned (rejected) as a child is likely to grow up feeling worthless. And to cope with this embarrassment, they desperately pursue closure or approval even from the wrong place or people. They could do whatever it takes, endure any sort of abuse, just to get a sense of belonging.
This is one of the many instances associated with people who are desperate to please others.
People Pleaser Syndrome (Aka Mr. Nice Guy Syndrome):
The early assumption by Dr. Robert Clover can be confirmed by the story of my previous relationship.
I tried being the guy who takes the high road all the time. Because I was afraid of confrontation (or expressing my misgivings even when it was necessary).
Though, In reality, I was only insecure.
I didn’t feel good about myself, or my capacity. I lacked both self-confidence and esteem – which isn’t healthy for anybody.
And when my expectations for the relationship were not realized?
I became a clingy man.
A control freak.
And an anxious lover.
Being a people pleaser is not only bad for you but also detrimental to all possible human relationships, including at work, school, social gatherings, and political activities.
People pleasers could also be;
- full of resentment.
- unable to set strong boundaries.
This is not to say that we should develop a stone-cold attitude towards other people. But when being “too nice” is a means of escaping reality or challenges – it becomes an issue.
It is best to have deadlocks, have a dialogue, then reach a compromise rather than being excluded from the discussion.
The question is, “how can you resist this proclivity to bend over for others?”
How To Stop Being A People Pleaser (But Still Be Nice):
To stop being a people pleaser: prioritize your needs and boundaries, say “no” when you need to, set clear boundaries, focus on your goals and values, practice assertiveness and self-care, and remember it’s okay to prioritize your well-being. Don’t sacrifice your needs for the sake of others.
Doing this can be tricky. So, below is how you can train yourself to break free from this vicious circle of people pleasing, and hating yourself for that:
#1 Revisit the past; make peace with it and fix your mindset
Certainly, we are not responsible for all the quirks we have, but how we handle them is almost entirely our responsibility.
To reconcile the early assumptions of Dr. R. Clover, we will have to resolve any lingering wounds from childhood or past sufferings.
To do this;
- Recognize the problem and identify what caused it.
- Embrace the situation and stop thinking negatively about it.
- Reclaim your authority over your life by learning from it.
After my breakup, I wallowed for a while in tears and pain.
Afterward, I began to read a lot of books as recommended by some good folks. I learned about my insecurities. I realized I had to change – that I had to hush the negative chatter in my head.
Gradually, as I practiced what I read, I broke out of depression; and like the Phoenix, I emerged from my ashes to become a reasonable and assertive person.
#2 Make Yourself Your Number One Obligation.
You must devote sufficient time and attention to your needs. This means you must show yourself compassion and empathy in the same way you treat others.
Not prioritizing yourselves, will only lead to frustration and eventually self-destruction. Just like patients who agonize greatly because they failed to take care of themselves (by taking their medication) – you’ll develop awful and unruly behavior when you don’t prioritize yourself.
Meanwhile, it’s only possible to truly love someone else if you love yourself and be able to take care of others when you must have taken care of your needs.
“Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible for Helping”— Jordan B. Peterson (Canadian clinical psychologist).
#3 Always Speak Up When Necessary.
Hardly any of us like conflict or an argument, most especially with someone we care about. so the knee-jerk response is to attempt to avoid it at all costs.
Yet, most times conflict can be beneficial when we present a firm argument while being respectful.
(Express yourself, and your stance, and be open to working out your differences).
This indicates you aren’t weak, that you know how to defend yourself; and that you are ready to find a satisfying solution for everyone.
Still, there is always the risk that some individuals may think you are trying to set up a tough front if you extend your arguments too long.
(It is not helpful to be mean or raise your voice at those who disregard or treat you badly).
The key here is to ignore the individual’s behavior, or better yet, walk away when needed. Don’t bend over.
“Pay attention when people react with anger and hostility to your boundaries. You have found the edge where their respect for you ends”.– Unknown
In Summary: “No More Mr. Nice Guy”
Stop kissing arses; nothing nice comes from the butt – only shits.
If you must show kindness to people, do it out of your grace without expectations of any sort.
“The only people who get upset about you setting boundaries are the ones who were benefiting from you having none.”– Unknown
FAQs: To Please, Or Not To Please
- Is people-pleasing a mental illness? People pleasing is not a mental illness, but it’s likely a case of emotional or social insecurities.
- Is “people pleasing” part of anxiety? Since people-pleasers strive to meet other people’s expectations, they often experience anxiety.
- Are people pleasers born or made? People-pleasers are made, not born. This pattern is influenced by several factors, but your relationship with your caregivers as a child is probably the most significant.
- How do you recover from “people pleasing”?
- Examine yourself from the inside
- Say no when necessary & avoid the urge to explain yourself always.
- Prioritize yourself
- Instead of avoiding conflicts, embrace the discomfort that comes with resolving them.
- Why is people-pleasing unhealthy? We may grow bitter and sabotage our relationships, or have others disregard and abuse us when we consistently prioritize their wants over our needs “.
- What happens when you stop people-pleasing? Depending on why you stopped, what happens will vary: If it is simply a matter of getting weary of not getting what you want from others, then nothing has changed. But you become free and joyful when you stop pleasing others because you love yourself, trust yourself, and appreciate yourself.
- What is the root of people-pleasing? Being a people-pleaser usually stems from your early years, particularly the way your parents or primary caregivers treated, loved, and cared for you.
- Is it hard to date a people pleaser? The first impression of such a relationship may seem charming and romantic, but when you realize they are unwilling to take any responsibility for decisions, and prefer to take a back seat in decision-making, it becomes difficult to handle.
- Is being a people pleaser selfish? Setting up boundaries that will allow you to prioritize your needs before turning focus to others, isn’t a selfish viewpoint. On the contrary, being a people-pleaser is self-serving because you are doing what is easiest for you by not facing up to the friction that comes with being authentic or genuine.
- What type of people do people pleasers attract? They are frequently drawn to people who like to control others.
A mindful self-help writer and photographer