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  • Lynn Catalano

Are you a People-Pleaser?



What is a people-pleaser?


People-pleasers regularly swallow their own emotions and perceive other people’s emotions as more important. People who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) regularly capitalize on the generosity and selflessness of people pleasers.


If you’re the child of a narcissist, you may be a people-pleaser. Children of narcissistic parents grow up believing they’re not loved so they will go to extremes for any breadcrumb of approval and affection.


At points in my life, I would have done anything for my narcissistic father’s approval. He only had 2 reactions to my achievements: dismissive or jealous.


I wrote about this in my book “Wrecking Ball Relationships: How to Identify, Live With or Leave the Narcissist in Your Life.”


“I completed my final days at the hospital in May and began a new job in June. When I left the hospital, they were sad to see me go. They surprised me by telling me I’d be honored at the annual Gala in September which I established. The President of the Health System asked if I’d serve on the Board of Directors. I was flattered and honored. I thought my father would be proud. But I hesitated because things were unstable. I didn’t know how he’d react. So, I waited. While at a large event, things seemed okay so, I shared my honors from the hospital with him. Looking back his response was revealing. He only said something like, “Okay, that’s nice.” We didn’t talk about it again.

I didn’t realize this was Strike Three to his ego. He was still missing his narcissistic supply from my mother. The culmination of three big ego strikes that year was too much. I didn’t see him for two weeks. Then we both attended a large outdoor party. The first person I saw was the CEO of the hospital I left. Greg and I have remained friends and I enjoy him and his wife.

Greg told me he was approached by my father at the golf course. He asked Greg, “Why would you ask Lynn to serve on the Board of Directors when I’m available?”

I was speechless. No one ever told me something I didn’t know about my father and certainly nothing about him opposing me. I felt like someone punched me in the stomach. So, I made a joke and thanked Greg for sharing it with me. It’s important I know the truth, even if it hurts.”


People-pleasers put others needs ahead of their own and genuinely want to give you what you want at all times. People-pleasers have been described as the mirror image of a narcissist. Both people-pleasers and narcissists are rooted in low self-esteem and deep insecurity. And somehow they are attracted to each other. People-pleasers are gratified by fulfilling the needs of a narcissist serving as a rescuer or savior. Narcissists feel reinforced by having this person by their side and they serve as narcissistic supply.



1. You apologize for things you didn’t do (frequently and often)

2. You have a hard time saying no

3. You feel discomfort when someone is angry with you

4. You will go to extreme lengths to avoid conflict

5. You feel responsible for other people’s feelings


How to stop being a people-pleaser


Do you feel like you’ve been trying to make this thing work because you inherently believe that you won’t find anything better. You might not believe this, but you subconsciously think you don’t deserve anyone better. Have you tolerated their terrible behavior because you were afraid to lose them? I did. Then I started to lose myself.

The first step to breaking free from this toxic relationship is recognizing who this person really is and that you don’t deserve this behavior. It took me years to finally come to the conclusion that my father only wanted me around when he needed something. He didn’t show me affection or any kind of respect. Everything was conditional and transactional with him.

The next step is to set firm boundaries. Boundaries are your personal rules and limits and no one gets to tell you they are wrong. Sometimes this type of relationship necessitates going no-contact with your narcissist. It’s really critical to talk to someone after you’ve suffered this type of emotional abuse.


This is why it’s so important to talk to someone after you’ve suffered this type of abuse. But not just anyone. You need to find someone who’s familiar with narcissistic personality disorder. You see, I didn’t get here by accident. I didn't set out to become a narcissistic abuse recovery coach. But after I’d suffered this kind of abuse, I realized that my story and my experience could help so many people who’ve suffered similarly. When someone tells me about their struggles and their story, I’m not just understanding. I really get it. I’ve been there. I’ve felt those same emotions, that same rage, and loss.


I can help you.


If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, either romantic or in your family, it’s time to say enough is enough. They are not going to change. You have to change.


If you haven’t made any changes, if you’re still in that toxic relationship, questioning yourself, 2024 is your year. Change is uncomfortable. It’s much easier to stay where you are. But change comes from uncomfortable places.


Don’t step into another new year in this toxic situation. Often, we stay in these cycles of abuse because we don’t believe we deserve something better.


You do deserve better.


I have a group starting soon. I have a limited number of seats available for serious people who want to be able to recover from this and never be in this situation again.


This is your chance. Don’t wait another day.

Don’t suffer in silence from narcissistic abuse, let’s talk.


Click here to book a free session with me. Don’t wait another day.


You can find my book “Wrecking Ball Relationships” on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com.




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