In my childhood, which is a while back, there were toy puppies you just had to touch, and then their heads started to wobble and nod for some time. It reminds me of the way many women go through their lives, saying yes and nodding. Just because they extremely crave for harmony, or are even addicted to it.

The American talk show queen Oprah Winfrey called this widely spread phenomenon ‘disease to please’. Particularly affected are women who already learned in their childhood to be nice and good, and adapted. The symptoms of this disease are well-known:

  • They often say YES, although their hearts want to shout out NO.
  • They swallow their emotions, instead of speaking out.
  • They rather bite their tongues, instead of offending others with their opinion.
  • They hold back to make others happy.
  • They waive expressing their wishes and needs.

This may backfire! Because people craving for harmony, often trigger off misunderstanding, or even anger.

Being always friendly, saying yes with an understanding smile, does not necessarily make you more popular. On the contrary, it makes others feel insecure. People feel as if the answer is not really honest. And the body language shows whether you are really saying what you think or not.

Appearances are deceptive

People craving for harmony, do not have totally honest and open relationships. They do not only deceive themselves, but also others, without being aware of it. Behind their behaviour there is often the great unfulfilled wish for love, attention and acceptance. They show the love-peace-harmony façade, but inside there is a dangerous bubbling. An outburst of temperament, or even a separation, comes out of the blue for their partners.

Friction losses

One of the main reasons for women to keep up harmony at all costs is the fear of being left or being alone. Maybe in their childhood they had the courage to say what they did not like, but they had to experience with horror, that their honesty had consequences: maybe they were told off, or excluded from their group or circle of friends.

Drawing the line

People craving for harmony have never learned to draw the line. On the contrary. Through their behaviour they send out misleading, non-verbal invitations to sound out, or even exploit their strength, helpfulness or good nature.

Therefore, people craving for harmony are often tired, exhausted without any particular reason. But these mental and emotional border crossings are often connected with a drastic loss of energy, even though this often happens at an unconscious level.

Counting up

Barbara Berckhan describes in one of her books the people craving for harmony as ‘discount ticket collectors’. Why? Because many of them have got the memory of an elephant. They remember the favours they have done to others forever, counting them up. However, the fatal thing about it is, that the others do not see their self-sacrifice as such. They cannot guess what actually goes on in their heads. But there comes a point, when it is all too much. Just one spark of wrong emotion lets the person craving for harmony explode. And this is more destructive than criticism in good time, a refused request or an honest no.

So what is to be done?

If you have recognized yourself as a person craving for harmony, you should know that relationships do not break because you express your frustration, or fiercely bang on the table. This is by all means better than remaining silent, and swallowing your frustration and anger. Because in the long run, this threatens every relationship. It is about opening the mouth and

  • learning to say NO,
  • stating one’s opinion,
  • drawing the line in time,
  • standing by oneself,
  • abandoning the role of a victim.

It’s not easy, I know! But in the long run you will have happier and more harmonious relationships, if you do not wait until you explode. Believe me, I am still practising!

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