Know the difference between goodwill and pleasing

Know the difference between goodwill and pleasing

People, who try to please others while denying their own interests, try to justify their behavior by labeling themselves as being ‘selfless’, but that’s just a cloak of denial they are hiding under, they are just lacking the courage and understanding to align with themselves.

I try to keep everyone happy; I do anything and everything for others. No one should be unhappy because of my action that’s the term I live my life on. I am very sensitive and feel bad if someone makes negative comments about me. I can’t take the slightest of criticism by others. Many a times, I was at loss while helping others, but I didn’t mind. My family members say that this isn’t good. Is trying to please everyone at the cost of our happiness, good or bad? Anil, Hyderabad.

“If you are busy pleasing everyone, you are not being true to yourself” Jocelyn Murray

"If everybody loves you, something is wrong. Find at least one enemy to keep you alert." -- Paulo Coelho.

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”- Bill Cosby.

Putting others needs before ours is not necessarily bad always. After all, as a human beings we all want to feel loved and accepted. We try to please others and it gives us a feeling of goodness, worthiness. But when people pleasing our become second nature, it gives way for stress to take over our lives and let our own well-being go to hell.

When we worry about what other people think and start trying to please them, we let them control us. We waste a lot of time and energy trying to figure out what others want us to be and then trying to become like that.

As psychologist, Harriet Braiker says – 'to please is a disease' – and in excess it can become an addiction that eventually results in you neglecting your own needs and wants, and ironically losing the respect of the people you are trying to please.

People, who try to please others while denying their own interests, try to justify their behavior by labeling themselves as being ‘selfless’, but that’s just a cloak of denial they are hiding under, they are just lacking the courage and understanding to align with themselves.

Some signs shown by people who please: They,

  • always back down from arguments
  • don't raise their problems and concerns with people
  • will go out of their way to please people even when it ends up doing damage to themselves and affect them negatively
  • take little time for self
  • are extremely critical of themselves
  • have a lot of one-sided relationships in which the other person seems to gain more
  • rarely say no to requests
  • get manipulated

What drives us to be a people pleaser?

  • Get attention of others
  • Fear of loss of approval
  • Fear of rejection or loss of personal worth
  • Inner guilt feelings or regrets
  • Feeling of loneliness
  • Fear of confrontation
  • Fear of losing relationships

Irrational beliefs of people with ‘people-pleasing’ personality traits

  • I must be liked by everyone.
  • I must do nothing to upset others.
  • I must work harder to make things better for others.
  • They would never like me if they knew the truth about me.
  • I can never do enough to please them.
  • The harder I work for them, the more they will appreciate me.
  • If they don't like me, I'm no good!

Negative consequences of people pleasing behavior

  • Low self-esteem
  • Loss of personal identity
  • Loss of personal rights
  • Being taken advantage of
  • Loss of personal time
  • Ineffectiveness in managing work
  • Inability to achieve personal goals
  • Inability to take a leadership role

We have to understand that,when we try to please everybody, we end up pleasing nobody. Tired from the burnout that comes from the over extension of ourselves and frustrated by the fact that we keep letting others take advantage of us, we quickly become ineffective in helping others and often at times end up resenting everyone around us.

It's not necessary to please everybody. There is a myth that says you must be loved and approved by everybody in order to be happy, that's just not true. You don't have to please everybody in order to be happy in life. Rejection will not ruin your life. It hurts, sure. It's not fun. It's uncomfortable. But rejection will not ruin your life unless you let it. Mahatma Gandhi was also criticized by many. But he is still father of our nation.

What other people think of you is none of your business. Obsessing about how to please others or be liked by others is a misuse of your energy. Quit trying to please everybody! Remember that nobody can make you feel inferior unless you give him/ her permission.

Never think that the world around you will collapse if you fail to please a person. There are always new friends to find, and if the "friend" you were trying to please leaves you because you did not please him/her, then that person is not your friend and it's good that he or she left. Do not worry about what other people think of you. You shouldn't have to do what they want or look how they want you to. It is your life and others need to know it and accept it. Be yourself.

Be persistent. If this becomes lifelong habit, it will not be easy to overcome. Maintain enough self-awareness so that you realize when you are being a "pleaser," and put the brake on it every time. Eventually, it will become a habit that you can moderate when the situation calls for you to be more flexible. The rest of the time, have it your way.

Make yourself clear that, it's time to shift the focus from others to you and stop being a martyr to niceness.

To make the transition,

  • Cultivate awareness: People-pleasing is deeply ingrained habit with its roots in the way you view yourself and the world. You probably won't be able to stop this habit immediately, and don't expect to. Start by noticing when you do it. What are the usual circumstances? Who are the people that trigger it? Why do you do it? How will you handle yourself differently next time? Journaling about this can be very helpful.
  • Know the difference between goodwill and pleasing: This isn't about never doing anything for anyone else. Learn to differentiate between helping others voluntarily or getting manipulated or fearing the consequences. Learning the difference will help you make better choices for yourself.
  • Learn how to say "no": Don't make up excuses- give your reasons for not wanting something.
  • Develop self-confidence: Start small by finding something small to say "no" to, and say it firmly. Say it politely, but mean it! You'll be surprised — the world will not collapse around your ears! People rarely take offense, and those that do aren't worth pleasing.
  • Do something for yourself: Do one thing you always wanted to, but don’t be afraid that someone else will not like it. Though other people's opinions are a factor in our lives, they should not be the determining factors.
  • Examine your fears: Are they realistic? You might be afraid that no one will like you, that someone will leave you, or that you will be left all alone if you don't please them. That is a prison you have trapped yourself in, and it's time to unlock the doors and walk out!
  • Stop basing your self-worth on how much you do for other people. Due to rejection of some people, you should not feel worth less.
  • Get professional help: Work with a professionally trained psychologist who can help you appreciate your true worth and encourage you in standing up for yourself.

By:N Radhika Acharya

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