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Forest Road

Perfectionism and People Pleasing

People pleasing and perfectionism are both considered to be relational patterns. In other words, they are patterns we pick up because of the messages we are receiving from other people we are in connection with.


Most commonly this can stem from family life, but it can also come from other kinds of connections as well when there is pressure for us to show up in a specific way.

People pleasing and perfectionism can form in response to environments where it’s not physically or emotionally safe to disagree or make a mistake. In some situations, a person’s nervous system sees that it’s safer (or some may use the word easier) to just suppress their point or view or authentic expression as to not rock the boat. These patterns can also be a form of compensation in a situation where a person is being sent the message that they are not good enough, as a way to try to prove their worth.


Some signs you may be struggling with people pleasing or perfectionism:

  • You struggle to set boundaries with others when you are uncomfortable with a situation

  • You struggle to reach out for support because you don’t want to be a burden, or you worry about being perceived as weak

  • You don’t speak up when you are feeling hurt because you fear losing the person or opportunity 

  • You may be looking at this information about perfectionism being a relational issue with a side eye and thinking “Oh it’s not because of other people. I just put that pressure on myself.”

  • You experience these tendencies like anxiety that just won’t shut off. The weight of trying to be perceived well by others is just heavy and it eats away at you. 

  • It’s really hard to show yourself love- either because you don’t think you deserve it, or you think self love is corny or selfish.


These relational patterns can bring a lot of distress, but know they are completely natural adaptations to specific social situations. The healing from them comes with acknowledgement on a deep level that these patterns are not needed anymore, and you will survive without them. The logistics of getting there are unique to each person and can be unpacked together in therapy but might include exploring when the pattern began, building self compassion, and learning to apply the grace you give to others to yourself. 

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