Pleaser

Description: Indirectly tries to gain acceptance and affection by helping, pleasing, rescuing, or flattering others. Loses sight of own needs and becomes resentful as a result.

Characteristics: Has a strong need to be liked by people and attempts to earn it by helping, pleasing, rescuing, or flattering them. Needs frequent reassurance by others about their acceptance and affection. Can’t express own needs openly and directly. Does so indirectly by having people feel obligated to reciprocate care.

Thoughts: To be a good person I should put the needs of others ahead of my own. It bothers me when people don’t notice or care about what I have done for them. They can be selfish and ungrateful. I give away too much and don’t think of myself enough. I can make anyone like me. If I don’t rescue people, who will?

Feelings: Expressing own needs directly feels selfish. Worried that insisting on own needs may drive others away. Resentful for being taken for granted, but have difficulty expressing it.

Justification Lies: I don’t do this for myself. I help others selflessly and don’t expect anything in return. The world would be a better place if everyone did the same.

Impact on Self and Others: Can jeopardize taking care of one’s own needs including emotionally, physically, or financially. Can lead to resentment and burnout. Others can develop dependence rather than learn to take care of themselves, and feel obligated, guilty, or manipulated.

Original Survival Function: The Pleaser tries to earn attention and acceptance through helping others. This is an indirect attempt to have one’s emotional needs met. It is fed by two original assumptions that are picked up in childhood: 1. I must put others’ needs ahead of my own. 2. I must give love and affection in order to get any back. I must earn it and am not simply worthy of it.

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