Wanting to please and take care of others is natural. But when pleasing others is based in fear of being unloved, it can become habitual and unhealthy, according to Micki Fine, MEd, LPC, author of The Need to Please: Mindfulness Skills to Gain Freedom from People Pleasing & Approval Seeking.
Specifically, people pleasing becomes problematic when your behavior is motivated by the fear of losing someone’s love or being abandoned, Fine said. She sees people pleasing as a cycle of thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
As she writes in The Need to Please, “This cycle consists of deep feelings of unworthiness, excessive attempts to be or do what you think others want from you, worry about meeting those supposed demands, and sacrificing your own well-being to please or fit in with others.”