Dear Dr Gray,
I try so hard to get people to like me, I am always bending over backwards to help people, trying to do things for them, I even try to anticipate want people want so that they don’t even have to ask for it. Despite all this I don’t really have any friends and I am so lonely maybe even depressed. What am I doing wrong?.
Hannah (Clapham, London)
Dr Gray Replies……..
I am wondering how you feel about yourself? Whether you believe that you are a nice person, someone that other people will want to be friends with or if you doubt this and feel that you have to be extra accommodating in order to compensate for this. The behaviour you are describing is often referred to as people pleasing and it is a common way of coping among people with low self esteem and confidence. People with low self esteem feel they are not good enough just as they are and so believe that they have to offer people something more if they are going to want to have a relationship with them. In the short term people pleasing can make you feel better about yourself (e.g. I am so thoughtful, helpful, kind etc) but in the longer term this behaviour disrupts the reciprocal nature of relationships. In healthy and successful relationships people need to the opportunity to both give and take, people pleasing interferes with this balance and makes others feel uncomfortable. I think that the solution for you may be to seek some therapy to address your poor self worth (and consequent depression), if you can build your self esteem you will no longer feel the need to over compensate and this will put you in a better position to start making some real and reciprocal connections with others.
The British CBT & Counselling Service offers excellent Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in Clapham and have had great success helping people to resolve low self esteem, low confidence, depression and loneliness. The team of clinical psychologists and counselling psychologists will tailor a therapy programme to meet your individual needs and help to move you forward and on to the next stage of your life.