My wife may burst into uproarious laughter when she reads this, and I’ve struggled at times with excessive people pleasing.
Thanks to the late Harriet Braiker, though, I’ve got some tools to address the issue.
Braiker wrote The Disease to Please: Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome, a brisk and helpful book who find themselves giving too much and feeling resentful at not getting enough in return.
The Disease to Please has elements common to many self-help: a diagnostic section and subsequent quizzes that helps the reader the degree and type of people pleasing one does; anecdotal profiles that illustrate the syndrome’s perils; and a step-by-step program to stop taking some of these self-destructive actions. Braiker also spends some time talking about the sources of people’s compulsion to put other people’s needs before their own, in their inability of difficulty in saying no, and in being too agreeable.
Braiker writes in a conversational tone, not dipping too heavily into psychological jargon and alternating between encouragement and a sober assessment of the possible physical, social and emotional consequences of people pleasing.
The good news, though, is that change is possible. Braiker’s work may not help us solve global warming, but it can be a tool for greater levels of self awareness and agency in one’s life.