info > Addictive Behaviors > 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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