Narcissists and people-pleasers have completely different traits.
A narcissist is someone who has an exaggerated sense of self-importance and believes that they are superior. Moreover, they have a severe lack of empathy and do not feel any guilt when using manipulation or thought-control tactics to get what they want. In contrast with this, a people-pleaser is someone who sees the emotions of others as more important than their own. Unlike narcissists, they are extremely empathetic and compassionate. Unfortunately, as a result of this, they are often used and exploited by the people around them. If narcissists and people-pleasers are so different, what can they possibly have in common?
Narcissists and people-pleasers are generally raised by caregivers who neglect or dismiss their feelings.
Erin Leonard Ph.D. explains that the one thing these complete opposites may have in common is the relationships they had with their caregivers. Leonard explains that being raised by parents who dismiss, neglect, or reject your feelings can either turn you into a people-pleaser or a narcissist. Taking this further, when parents shame their children for their emotions, they teach them to doubt and distrust their feelings. In this case, the child can turn into a people-pleaser who puts the emotions or needs of others before their own. Leonard notes that parents who lack empathy and inflict shame or guilt onto their child may also prompt them to “unconsciously resurrect a massive defensive structure that protects his or her self-esteem.” In other words, the child may develop narcissistic tendencies to protect their ego and sense of self.
Parents should acknowledge their children’s feelings.
Ultimately, narcissists and people-pleasers are generally the results of emotionally abusive caregivers. To raise a secure and emotionally mature person, parents ought to honor their feelings even when they do not understand or agree with them. Leonard gives the following example of a scenario in which the parent honors their child’s feelings while simultaneously upholding rules and expectations. She notes that a parent might say, “You are angry. I get it, but you cannot throw your backpack. Please go pick it up.” In this case, the parent is both acknowledging the child’s emotion (anger) and correcting their behavior.
If you have been subject to emotional abuse, seek guidance and look inward so that you may understand how your relationship with your caregiver has impacted your life. More importantly, considering talking to a mental health professional who can help you find new ways of dealing with your emotions.
If you are a child’s caregiver, learn how to honor and acknowledge their feelings. Everyone deserves to feel heard.