Compulsive Pleasing: The Caretaker Personality Disorder
As Christians, we are taught from a very young age to be giving of ourselves, and to put the needs of others in front of our own. While in theory this is a good guiding principle to live by, when it becomes detrimental to ourselves, the compulsive need to please others can become a burden rather than an admirable trait.
Though it didn’t make it into the DSM-5, Psychologist, Les Barbanell, Ed.D., wrote in The National Psychologist (May/June 2013) about compulsive pleasing, and how the desire to please can become a disorder referred to as The Caretaker Personality Disorder (CPD).
CPD sufferers compulsively put others ahead of their own needs to the point that it becomes a serious problem in their life. They can’t help but sacrifive their own desires and needs in favor of others’ needs, usually out of fear of offending or not pleasing them. If they tell someone “no” they become overcome by guilt, and they don’t handle rejection well themselves.
It is important for us to help others in our lives, but we cannot properly help those around us unless we keep ourselves in good health and spirit. The scripture teaches us about self-sacrifice and giving, but even the word of the lord recognizes the limits of giving. Where the Bible tells us in Philippians 2:2, 3, “regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” it recognizes that we also are important. It doesn’t say you must always be giving, but that you must be humble and recognize the importance of others in the world above ourselves. We still have self worth, and we still deserve respect.
We all must be able to say “no” when we need to, but the most important thing is to find a good balance. We give because we want to, or because we have the means to assist someone in need, but to feel obligated to give even when you can’t feesibly do so isn’t healthy. God doesn’t directly answer every prayer, but he is there for us when we really need. Take that principle and include it in your charitable habits.