People-Pleasing: Can Childhood Trauma Cause Someone To Be A People Pleaser?

If someone has the need to please others, it can stop them from being able to live a life that is in alignment with their true-self. Through being this way, their priority will be to do what other people want and what they think they want.

It is then going to be normal for them to be focused on what is going on externally and to rarely be in touch with what is taking place internally. In fact, they might not be in touch with their own needs.


Of course, they might be aware of when they need to eat and sleep but that could be about as far as it will go. Then again, they could often overlook these needs and only eat and sleep when they have got the all-clear from others.

If they live in this way, it could mean that they have no inner world; the outer world will be both their focus and point of reference. So, instead of acting like a separate being, they are going to act like an extension of others.

One Experience

Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that the average person will realise that they are a people pleaser. The reason for this is that they may have achieved a certain level of “success” and appear to be someone who has made it.

The feedback that they receive from others may also allow them to create the impression that they are strong and have it all together. Consequently, they can be someone who doesn’t fit the usual “people pleaser” model.

Another Experience

If someone does fit this model, it can mean that they are not very “successful” and they can come across as very easy-going. They can do just about everything that they can to be there for others.

This approach can allow them to receive a fair amount of approval and thus, to be seen as a “good” person. It might not be uncommon for people to say that they are a “selfless” human being.

A Build-Up

Even so, no matter how much ego love they receive from others – with this love being approval, acceptance and attention – it won’t make up for the fact that they have abandoned themselves. Underneath the pleasant exterior that they often present is likely to be a lot of “negative” feelings.

Deep down, they can carry a lot of anger, rage, resentment, and hate. Still, as their need for approval is so strong, it is unlikely that they will seldom allow themselves to acknowledge these feelings, let alone express them.

Washed Out

What they may find is that every now and then, they get to a point where they can no longer behave in the same way. This can be a time when they will feel completely exhausted and haven’t got the energy to do anything.

It is likely that this experience will just seem to come out of nowhere, and this is because they will be too out of touch with themselves to see the signs. Their needs will largely be ignored, so it is to be expected that they will regularly burn out as a result of spending so much time running empty.


However, as their need to please others is so strong, they might not allow themselves to fully see this experience through. As soon as they start to feel better, it might not be long until they return to how they were before.

The energy source that they use to do this is likely to be a product of their mind – will power. The energy that would be provided by their body won’t be available to them, due to the poor connection that they have with this part of them.

The Same Old Story

There could come a point in time when it is simply not possible for them to carry on in the same way. After neglecting themselves for so many years, their body will have said that enough is enough.

This part of them will now be in the driver’s seat and it won’t allow anyone else to take over. Yet, before one gets to this point, they could get to the point where they know that something needs to change.

Drawing the Line

If they were to reach out for support, they could be told that they need to change their thoughts and behaviour. Through the cognitive behavioural therapy approach, they will be able to experience life differently.

Now, after taking this route, they could find that their life gradually changes; at the same time, they may find that it doesn’t work. They could find it hard to tune into themselves and feel unsafe when they behave differently.

Going Deeper

What this can illustrate is that their need to please others is a symptom of something else that needs to be looked into and resolved. If they have been this way for as long as they can remember, it may show that it wasn’t safe for them to be in touch with or to express themselves during their early years.

This may have been a stage of their life when they were abused and/or neglected on a weekly, if not daily, basis. They wouldn’t have felt safe to be in their body and to just be and being super focused on their external world, being hypervigilant, would have been a way for them to experience a sense of control and to try to prevent the unpreventable.

The Past Is Present

Many years will have passed since this stage of their life but a big part of them will still be living in that environment. To be more precise, their nervous system will have adapted to their early environment and it will still be wired for surviving, not thriving and for protection, not connection.

Therefore, while it can be easy to see people-pleasing as something that is fairly trivial or as a sign that one is “weak”; it can be a reflection of something very serious. The trouble is that as today’s world is very mind-centric, the nervous system is largely overlooked and it is often believed that it is “all about the mind”.

If one can relate to this, and they are ready to change their life, they may need to reach out for external support. This is something that can be provided with the assistance of a therapist or healer.

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