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info > Addictive Behaviors > People Pleasing

People Pleasing

Whether addictions are psychologically or physically based they share certain basic characteristics. They tend to have an obsessive-compulsive element coupled with behavior that ultimately has a detrimental effect on the rest of the addict's life.

Many of us struggle with a tendency towards people pleasing. We want to be liked and being liked means learning to please the people that we deem important in our lives. It begins in our earliest interactions with our significant others as a babe in arms. It is called healthy adaptive behavior when a toddler learns how to please the people who have power over her in order to get what he or she wants.

To a certain, healthy degree, people pleasing is just diplomacy. We would get nowhere without it. As with psychological addiction in general, it is not the 'thing' itself that contains the seeds of addiction, it is the way we work with it.

In people pleasing the balance between necessary diplomacy and healthy self-assertion has been sacrificed for the perceived "high" of being liked. The irony is that people pleasers fail because it is impossible to please all the people all the time.

Instead of this recognition halting the behavior it serves to intensify it. The thought is that the failure to produce the "high" is due to inefficient people pleasing.

People caught in this vicious cycle end up sacrificing their entire personalities to the whims of others. They become obsessed with finding out just what buttons to press to please and in focusing on this they lose themselves. They fail to meet their needs because they have ceased to be aware of them.

The need to be themselves is totally eclipsed by the need to please. The confused thinking of the addict believes that external approval will offer the very thing that they have sacrificed to get it: their own self worth.
 
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