Codependency & People-Pleasers

People-pleasers don’t always know what they are.  That’s understandable– the problem goes by many names:  people-pleasing, codependency, anxious attachment.  It can get confusing.

So, are you a people-pleaser?  Are you struggling with codependency or anxious attachment?

Let’s find out.  Read on to learn more about these common codependency symptoms and see if any of this feels familiar…

You hate saying no but you’re tired of saying yes…

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You’ve tried setting firm limits many times. But when it comes time to make your case, you freeze.  Speaking up feels embarrassing, even wrong.

The idea of conflict sends you running for the hills.

People ask you for favors a lot.  You’re good at what you do, and you like to help out, so you agree.

You end up in lots of one-sided relationships.  Even in close relationships, your needs often go unmet.

You tune into your partner’s feelings, dreams, and needs.  It happens so much that you sometimes forget what you want and need.

You feel stuck.  You know you’re agreeing to help out with things you really don’t want to.  Maybe you’re even staying in a relationship that feels like a dead-end.

But you’re afraid to speak up for yourself.  Saying no feels terrible.

Hardest of all is how much people love being around you.  They compliment you on how hard you work, what a good listener you are, how giving and friendly you seem.

Of course, it’s so nice to be liked and valued!  But, it takes so much work to maintain all that good will.

Codependency can be a very lonely habit– you’re surrounded by people, but unsure of whether they actually like you or just enjoy all the stuff you do for them.

You feel resentful and envious of people who can say no without guilt.  You don’t know how they do it!  You wish you didn’t care so much about what others think, but you do.

People-pleasers wish they could say no without guilt

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People who struggle with saying no for fear of disapproval or rejection are known as “people-pleasers.”

A people-pleaser (aka a “nice girl” or “nice guy” aka “codependent” aka “person with anxious attachment”) is a person who almost always puts the needs and feelings of others before her own.

She has a hard time saying no.

People-pleasers feel that they must go along with all requests or risk losing support, jobs, and relationships.

Signs and symptoms of people-pleasing

Still not sure if you’re a people-pleaser?  Here are some common codependency symptoms that people-pleasers share:

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+You feel guilty when you say no

+You fear the disappointment or disapproval of others

+You put the needs of others before your own

+You care more about what others think than what you think

+You work hard to please others

+You hate conflict

+You crave validation from others

+You apologize for things that aren’t your fault

+You struggle with perfectionism

What’s at the heart of all of these codependency symptoms?  A fear of abandonment, rejection, or retaliation.  So, it makes a lot of sense that people-pleasers struggle with saying no and setting limits.

If this sounds familiar, please keep reading.  Anxious attachment is a natural consequence to certain early childhood experiences, but the good news is that it can be changed.

Codependency:  why peace at any price is too costly

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The cost of being a people-pleaser can be very high.

Codependency can cause underemployment, leaving you stuck in a dead-end job or passed over for promotions because you can’t speak up for yourself.

You may waste years in unfulfilling, dissatisfying relationships where you feel disrespected or taken for granted– all because anxious attachment teaches you to preserve relationships at your own expense.

The physical and emotional strain codependency symptoms can take a toll on the bodies and minds of people-pleasers, resulting in depression, anxiety, stress, feelings of overwhelm, burnout, and even physical health problems.

Research has shown that people-pleasing personality traits are linked to over-eating.  Study participants ate things they didn’t want and ate more than they wanted to protect the feelings of the people who made the food.

Think about it:  do you want to spend your whole life “eating” stuff you don’t want?

People-pleasers can set firm and loving limits

A gently sloping wooden fence offers a boundary between a field and a curved line of tall trees. A small park bench sits peacefully beneath the trees. There is no one in sight. People can learn to set healthy boundaries in counseling.

Gentle boundaries are possible

Imagine what it would be like if you could say no without guilt.

You could ask for that raise with confidence.

You could set limits without fear.

You could quit apologizing for things that aren’t your fault.

You could get the respect and love you want in a relationship.

You could have more time to do stuff you want to do, not stuff you think you have to do.

You could stop caring so much about what others think.

You don’t have to be held hostage by the needs, feelings and opinions of others.  You can preserve your integrity and keep your relationships.

People-pleasers often feel stuck and hopeless about changing– but there’s good news.  You can change this trait, and therapy is one way to do it.

You don’t have to sort this out by yourself

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If you struggle with codependency, it’s unlikely anyone taught you how to set limits effectively.

More likely, you may have been punished directly or subtly for trying to practice healthy boundaries when you were young.

Even if we know how to set limits, we can struggle to practice this skill.

People-pleasing recovery is not just about learning new skills for setting boundaries.  Any self-help book could teach you that.

Here’s the thing:  if we don’t feel entitled to space in our own lives, all the skills in the world won’t shift the balance.

Replacing shame with compassion, cultivating healthy self-esteem, and facilitating recovery from old childhood wounds are all part of the process of recovering from codependency and people-pleasing.

This is precisely the kind of work I do in my therapy practice in Austin, Texas.  I offer both talk therapy for codependency and EMDR therapy to help people heal from people-pleasing.

People-pleasing doesn’t have to be a life sentence.  Counseling can help you build your confidence, so you can say no when you need to.

Through counseling, you can understand how and why you learned to please others at your expense.  You can learn to prioritize your own needs, and bring focus to a life that is clouded by the feelings and needs of others.

I’m a former people-pleaser myself, and I’ve watched the recovery process in hundreds of my clients’ lives, too.  Change is possible.

You can learn to say no without feeling guilty.

Anxious attachment and codependency therapy in Austin, Texas

A cheerful young woman with glasses sits smiling in an armchair, ready to offer therapy for people pleasing and new moms in Austin, Texas. Ann Stoneson, LPC.So you’re a people-pleaser.  Ok.  Join the club!  Research estimates show 10-20% of the population has anxious attachment.  You are in good company.

Are you curious about changing?  Here’s the next step to take:

1.)    Email me to set up your free, 30 minute consultation.  Please note that I can only work with people in the Austin, Texas area, due to licensing requirements and restrictions.  I offer both talk therapy for recovery from anxious attachment and people-pleasing, as well as EMDR therapy.  You can also take a peek at these testimonials, if you’re curious.

2.)  While you’re waiting to have your consultation, review the articles listed below to get more information on where people-pleasing and codependency come from.  The first step to changing is understanding what you’re dealing with.

Codependency symptoms don’t have to be your lifelong companions.  Boundaries are your birthright.

Whether you’ve struggled with people-pleasing for years or even decades, remember:  change is possible at any point in your life.

Hungry for more information on people-pleasers and codependency?

Am I codependent?

Codependency therapy in Austin:  where to get help

False yeses:  the quiet thief

10 painful and hidden costs of people-pleasing

What makes a people pleaser

What people-pleasers are dying to have

5 powerful cures for people-pleasing