The term “people-pleaser” is one that I learned in the past year through therapy. It’s a term that feels accusatory but it’s fitting with my anxiety and behavior patterns. This was both alarming but also disheartening to really deep dive into. My need for therapy homework struck again and the therapist suggested the book, The Disease to Please by Dr. Harriet B. Braiker. This book gives a detailed breakdown of habits of a people pleaser, a break down of how it applies in everyday life, and a detailed program created by the author to assist the reader in breaking these habits. I immediately began to overthink things and attempt perfection (which is a whole other beast) in ridding myself of these habits. 32 years of habits aren’t just going to go away over night. I was being driven by shame and anxiety that if I didn’t shake this that I would be further doomed than I was before.
While the anxiety has slowed, I still battle people pleasing. The need to control situations for my own comfort or my need to overprotect loved ones still happens to me. I’d love to sit here and say therapy and a book was the cure all but it’s the application of the tools from therapy and the book that help me with this daily struggle. Finally, realizing why I do some things and that I’m not responsible for the happiness of anyone else but myself is freeing. However, it doesn’t make it any easier when situations come up. I want to help, I want to fix and knowing that I can’t always do that for everyone or even myself with my own emotions is scary to feel. It’s not easy to just let go but I know it’s going to foster better relationships with myself and the people around me.