In 2001, I visited a counselor to seek help for my increasing levels of anxiety, ‘panic attacks’ and onset of agoraphobia. Part of what she had noticed about me was my lack of assertiveness. Unwittingly, I was a ‘people-pleaser’ and found it difficult to say ‘no’ to others’ requests and demands due to not wanting to ‘let anybody down’ or upsetting them. I stayed in a job which I detested for 10 years, due to not wanting to upset my bosses and when I finally did leave to become self-employed, I found it hard to say ‘no’ to favours or extra jobs, when my work time was already filled up with existing jobs. Trying to fit all the extra favours and jobs into my full work timetable had a negative effect and would push me behind, timewise, with existing work, sometimes causing anger from clients. My ‘people-pleasing’ mentality also pervaded other areas of my life, including relationships.
However, since discovering my own assertiveness from an insight during counselling, I have now and again, slipped into ‘people-pleasing’ mode, at the expense of myself, creating negative effects. Also, after discovering and developing my own assertiveness, I would become aggressive in situations I perceived as unjust, or situations where I may feel I was being taken advantage of, or disrespected. It seemed, after knowing I could be assertive, I had switched from ‘people-pleaser’ to stubborn and aggressive, which also yielded a negative outcome. Years later, I was to learn the common term in psychology for ‘people-pleasing’ behaviours is called ‘codependency’ and maintaining a balance between self and others, is the way to move forward positively.
From what I have learned and talking with others who experience high levels of anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia, etc, there seems to be a ‘people-pleasing’ and codependent trait in the individual.
Here’s a link to more about codependency: http://www.dummies.com/…/codependency-for-dummies-cheat-she…
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/agoraphobicnomad
(Written June 2015).