On People-pleasing, Perfectionism and Social Anxiety

People-pleasing, Perfectionism, Social Anxiety – they have the same roots.

Not only that, but they are all self-protective adaptations to an early threat of survival.

I have been afflicted with all of them myself.

And, a big part of my journey was to deal with them. Deal with them how?

  1. By accepting them as a part of me – and not as a part of me that I resent
  2. By discovering the roots, understanding these roots, and finally providing strong evidence in the opposite direction that I know to be experientially true also (cognitive dissonance).

The second point is a bit more complicated than that but as far as the general process – that’s it.

So, what was the source of threat in my case?

The source was an unpredictable and angry father who perceived me as a threat – when I was a baby.

No blame to my father. He simply enacted his own trauma based on how his father was with him. (I love my father dearly. He loves me dearly. He just didn’t have access to that level when he was young.)

So, in order to survive, I learned that

  • It’s safer to be “invisible” than among people (social anxiety)
  • It’s better to only say the right things that won’t trigger the anger of others (people-pleasing, perfectionism)

This has happened to a lot of us. A lot!

If it has happened to you – it’s not your fault!

And, it’s not the fault of your parents/caregivers either – they literally didn’t have any other choice, based on their own survival programming.

So, what is a person who suffers from the above do?

Here’s what I would do:

  1. Accept your situation
  2. Realize that this isn’t you at your essence. It’s simply your adaptation to the need to survive, the need to be held, loved, attached!
  3. Realize (at a visceral level… emotional level) that this doesn’t make you NOT-GOOT-ENOUGH. In fact – IT NEVER DID!
  4. Realize that you’ve already survived. You no longer need to continue surviving. IT’S SAFE NOW!
  5. Introduce as many BELIEVABLE examples as you can from your own life or the lives of others that IT IS SAFE to not be a people-pleaser, to not be perfect, to not be socially nervous (you may need the help of someone else for that)

At the very least – and I can’t even emphasize strongly enough how important that is…


If you need help with this reach out. I may be able to help.

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