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Trauma and People Pleasing

We all want to be liked and valued by those around us. It’s a natural human instinct to seek approval and validation from others. However, for some people, this desire to please others can become excessive and overwhelming, leading to what’s commonly known as “people pleasing syndrome.”

People pleasing folks go out of their way to please others, often to their own detriment. They tend to prioritize the needs and desires of others above their own, and can feel guilty or anxious if they don’t meet the expectations of those around them.

Trauma and people pleasing

Experts suggest that trauma can be a major factor in the development of people pleaser syndrome. According to Dr. Lisa Firestone, a clinical psychologist and author, “Trauma can lead people to develop a distorted sense of self-worth, making them believe that they’re only valuable if they’re meeting the needs of others.”

Dr. Judith Herman, a psychiatrist and trauma specialist, agrees, adding that “trauma survivors often feel a deep sense of shame and inadequacy, and may try to compensate for these feelings by being overly accommodating and pleasing.”

So how can we break free from people pleasing? One way is to work on developing a healthier sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Dr. Firestone suggests that “learning to validate oneself and identify one’s own needs and desires can be a powerful tool in overcoming people pleasing tendencies.”

Next Steps

If you’ve done a lot of cognitive therapy and understand the underlying issues behind why you find yourself in people pleasing, somatic coaching can help release the stored response in your body, making room for a more balanced way of being.

In conclusion, while the desire to please others is a normal and natural part of being human, excessive people pleasing can be a sign of underlying trauma and a distorted sense of self-worth. By prioritizing our own needs and seeking support and guidance when needed, we can overcome people pleasing and live a healthier, more fulfilling life.

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