Bullied, Sensitive, & People-Pleasers

Since you are interested in this page, you or someone you know might be having trouble coping with the behavior of dominant, aggressive, or narcissistic persons. Sometimes this includes adult bullying.

Are you drained by your efforts for others? Does it seem like you can’t get the formula right to please others? Nothing you do relieves the pressure from them? Is even addressing your needs kind of alien to you? I have experience with the confusion, helpless feelings, fatigue, frustration, and anxiety about managing such situations.

Being Bullied vs. Trouble with Dominant People is a Matter of Intent and Intensity

According to Lutgen-Sandvik (2013) bullying is: “persistent aggressive interactions” that worsen over time, with the target unable to defend themselves or “stop abuse”. However, the ‘persistent’ part may or may not be necessary. Bullying is considered moderate to high-intensity on a hypothetical “Destructive Communication” scale or continuum. For example, mild would be occasional rudeness, while extremely severe would contain physical harm, grave psychological harm, etc. (Namie, 2003, per Lutgen-Sandvik).

Regarding sensitivity or people-pleasing, some personality systems might talk about Sensitive, Self-Sacrificing, or Devoted people (Oldham & Morris, 1995). While every personality style has strengths, each has weaknesses–especially paired with certain other styles, whether at work, at home, or in social groups. Highly dominant and self-oriented people are the types most likely to run roughshod over those who can’t stand up to them. You might be reading this page if you feel like the pavement rather than the one taking a stroll…

Questions more related to being a bullying target (but perhaps also to being overly dominated):

  • Have you developed a fear response to the bully? Sometimes this comes out as anger, but usually fear and anxiety are under it.
  • Has your fear or anxiety about the person(s) generalized to other situations, tasks, people, etc.?
  • Do you worry about losing your job or a drop in your social standing because of them?
  • Are you concerned about ‘bottled up’ anger, anxiety, despair, or resentment that might explode?
  • Are you experiencing feelings of sadness, apathy, hopelessness, or despair regarding the bully’s behavior or consequences you have endured?
  • Do you blame yourself for the situation or consider yourself suddenly and strangely ‘weak’?

Items related to people-pleasing (that might also apply to being a bullying target):

  • Is being there for others, or keeping them happy, basically your ‘job’?
  • Are you taken for granted?
  • Does it seem that trying harder to avoid or satisfy others only makes the situation worse?
  • Are you questioning your usual beliefs about being nice, moral, people-pleasing, and hardworking?
  • Have you lost track of your goals and dreams in life?
  • Do your strengths (being agreeable, sensitive, rule-following, and self-sacrificing) sometimes backfire?

If you are answering ‘yes’ to several of these questions, you likely need private assistance to get a hold on bullying, highly dominant, or unappreciative people.

Dr. Chris Michael, help for personality conflicts

I can provide support to make standing up for yourself and your needs seem realistic and doable

We may not be able to ‘make’ others change, but you can work on internal detoxifying or what I consider psychological immunization. You can also develop external strategies and actions you can take. Then, we will discuss things to practice and do about the situation, including developing new visions of hope. Those new visions are probably different than your usual ones, so finding and understanding them can be hard to do by yourself.

To get started on this, call or contact through my online portal for an initial 15-minute telephone consultation or an initial therapy session. You can also request an appointment.

Bullying: contact Chris Michae, PhD to move on and stand tall

Please note: If you did, or will, officially state on a workers’ compensation claim that workplace bullying (or similar) has caused a workplace psychological injury, I cannot treat you privately in my Claremont, CA office. If this comes up, I can guide you to the workers’ compensation process.

For more on my therapy style, see here and here. For a page about telehealth / online therapy go here.