In our last newsletter we outlined many of the characteristics of the Rescuer in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) ™.   This week we want to describe the Pleaser, which is one of several different styles the Rescuer tends to take on.

Pleasers are not just invested in the lives and happiness of others—it becomes their primary focus in life.  It may be the PTO committee that consumes a Pleaser because they cannot say “no.”   Or they may take-on more duties at work than is there’s to do.  The Rescuer as a Pleaser feels responsible for other people’s happiness and therefore often say “yes” to every need and request even when they would rather say “no.”

Pleasers swallow their own feelings so as not to rock the boat.  Remember, Pleasers feel an obligation for other’s happiness over theirs.  They may wind up with way too much to do and may endure even sickness so not to let others down.  Their intentions are good but with a long list to accomplish they feel the only thing to do is to work harder and faster, furthering their exhaustion.

Sometimes Pleasers are not able to get everything done but others will play along knowing the Pleaser’s feelings might be hurt if any one speaks up.  Consequently, the Pleaser attracts people who are willing to play along—all in the name of being dishonest about what is really going on.

Here are the results of a Pleaser’s behavior:

  • Usually feels overwhelmed and exhausted with all there is to do and not enough time.
  • Feels guilty and shameful if they cannot fix everything.
  • On-guard for disappointing others so they may have trouble making decisions.
  • Guilt, not generosity, is often the motive for their actions since they feel responsible for other people’s happiness.
  • May tend to suffer and complain because they are not willing to disappoint anyone.
  • Often on the losing end of an intimate relationship because they are over-invested in making their partner happy.  Their partner feels smothered or the Pleaser never feels their needs are met.

By pleasing others, Pleasers don’t have a chance to ask themselves what they really want.   “Who am I?” is not available to Pleasers because they reside in “I am who others say I am.”

There’s a reason the airlines ask us to put the oxygen mask on first.  We cannot assist and be in service unless we first learn to take care of ourselves.