Dig down into the essence of the pleaser pattern and you will find a sad kid who more likely than not had a parent who was depressed. Not a once or twice situational depression, more a parent who walked with head down worrying about tripping and falling.
The pleaser as a child was a really good kid who wanted to bring some light to the darkness. There was always a feeling that if they did exactly what was expected of them, and then some, the sadness in the home would miraculously go away.
The family system was one where tough issues were swept under the rug. No one was ever going to face the elephant or gorilla lurking in the corner. It is hard work to keep saying YES when a better answer is NO. However, pleasers are afraid that if they speak the truth the bottom will fall from the family and everyone will topple into the chasm of chaos. Better, they say to themselves, better to be safe rather than sorry.
Most pleasers do well in school, they are often a combination of pleaser and super achievers, hoping that their success will make the sadness at home go away. Yet, underneath there is a sense of doom, for no matter how hard they work at it, they cannot make mom or dad, or siblings happy.
Another aspect of the pleaser pattern is cultural. We are still coming out of a time when women learned very early as girls that the road to success is paved with smiles and pleasing. The book “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Freidan paved the way for a more honest dialogue about the roles of women in society.
While major strides were made in the past decades, it is still a challenge for many women to speak up and speak out. Even now, when women take a strong stand they are called many names and seen as variations of “witch“.
Pleasers, male and female, need to practice saying “no” without any qualifiers. Just saying the word and then neither explaining, defending, or justifying a position can be freeing. So, give the gift that is really meaningful, if you have the pleaser pattern “just say no” and if you live with or work with a pleaser, give them a card they can put on the bathroom mirror, or in the office that gives them permission the “just say no“.
Tomorrow, what the world looks like through the eyes of a transformed pleaser.
If you are not sure what behavior patterns are most like you, take the free quiz at www.sylvialafair.com.
Better yet, you can call for a no charge consultation about your specific situation on your way to becoming pattern aware.