A People Pleaser Personality in Addiction Recovery: Good or Bad?
The title of “people pleaser” is almost looked at as an endearing term, but is it really a healthy personality type to have? A person with a people pleaser personality is someone who seeks validation from others to prove their own self-worth. There is a subset of addicts that share this characteristic, even before addiction becomes a staple in their life. It can even be evident of first-time drug use, by having to please friends because of their peer pressure. They might acquiesce to drug use too easily, or not raise concerns when the behavior is going on around them. This co-dependent personality trait should be addressed during addiction recovery. This way, post-treatment, a recovering addict has the self-confidence and skills to say “no” even if it changes someone else’s opinion of the individual.
Why is the People Pleaser Personality so Apparent in Addiction Recovery?
Although there is no research that proves that addiction causes the people pleaser personality or that it leads to addiction, this personality trait is definitely seen amongst many recovering addicts. People with this personality trait do have a specific risk of finding themselves in situations where they feel compelled to go along with heavy drinking or drug use. Additionally, when they fail to please others, they may self-medicate their guilt by using substances. Individuals who have developed the people pleaser personality during addiction feel that it is their duty to please others around them to make up for the guilt that stems from addiction.
However the characteristic develops, people-pleasers are not out to only please others but are looking for self-validation through the opinion of others. They might do things for people expecting those individuals to gain appreciation, respect, and love for them. For the struggling addict, developing these opinions through others brings proof that their drug addiction or alcoholism isn’t harming others. The people pleaser may even believe that these appealing judgments of others show that addiction doesn’t damage their own life. On the contrary, working so hard to justify drug addiction only proves there is a problem that needs to be resolved.
Self-Esteem and the People Pleaser Personality
One major component that fuels the people pleaser personality is low self-esteem. Those with low self-esteem need the approval of others to feel any type of worth. The people pleaser will go out of their way to help others or refuse to say no even if it puts them in harm’s way. Focusing on others all the time leaves no time for taking care of oneself. Instead of worrying about the needs and opinions of others, recovering individuals in addiction treatment learn to focus on themselves and develop self-esteem. Loving and respecting oneself gives a person the ability to say “no” to helping others if it costs their own well-being.
Dangers of the People Pleaser Personality
Maintaining a people pleaser personality outside of addiction treatment can prove to be dangerous. If you care about the opinions of others more than the priority of your sobriety, you will likely relapse with the slightest pressure. Additionally, you will continue to wear your energy thin chasing after the approval of others that ultimately don’t even benefit you. Working to rid this characteristic will allow you to care about whose opinion should really matter in your life; your own.
Techniques to Rid the People Pleaser Personality
Say “No”: The next time someone asks something of you, tell them “no”. Even if it’s a small request, you’ll notice that the world won’t end if you deny assistance to someone. Learning that you can say no is the biggest step to ridding the people pleaser trait.
Do Something for You: Try something that you were always afraid to do because you feared the judgment of others. Of course, this should be something in the safe realm of sobriety, but this will help to show you that even if someone disagrees with your actions, it doesn’t have to affect you.
Analyze your Fears: Try to determine what fuels your people pleaser personality. What are the fears that cause you to seek validation? Is it the fear of loneliness or the fear of offending others? Once you recognize what drives your reason to seek validation, you can determine whether or not the fears are realistic.
Set Boundaries: Setting boundaries are imperative to a healthy recovery. You should know ahead of time what you should and shouldn’t do for others in a situation. Listing out possible interactions and reasonable responses to requests is a good way to prepare. Placing healthy boundaries keeps others from manipulating you and also keeps you in charge of your own actions.
Developing Independence and Self-Worth in Addiction Treatment
If you or a loved one struggles with addiction and the people pleaser personality concurrently, treatment can help. Drug and alcohol addiction treatment is not solely about the removal of a substance from your life. It’s also about determining whom you are without drugs or alcohol. Treatment can teach you skills to utilize in the outside world when you don’t have substances to dull the pain. You can put an end to your days of pleasing everyone but yourself by mending the broken pieces post-addiction. You can be in control of your own life once again; all it takes is treatment and some determination.