When we are in the habit of pleasing others, a lot happens.
We set our own honesty and needs aside and may get disappointed, bitter, and secretly angry at ourselves, others, and life.
We may expect others to please us in turn, and get upset when it doesn’t happen.
By pleasing others, we act on our own issues telling us it’s more safe to please others, so we please – and appease – these issues in ourselves.
Beyond that, we may also get into the pattern of pleasing our own hangups and issues in general. We appease them instead of being real with them – questioning them, exposing them to the truth, and sometimes using tough love and cutting through them.
Pleasing others tends to be a pervasive pattern with a lot of – as we see when we look a bit closer – undesirable consequences.
Why do we please others?
Perhaps we want to be loved and safe. Perhaps we learned it was a strategy that worked for us when we were little. Perhaps we – somewhere in us – feel it’s unsafe to be honest and risk upsetting the other person.
What do we lose when we please others?
We lose our authenticity and honesty. We lose asking for what we really want. We lose being real. We often lose getting what we want. We lose, to some extent, our inner peace and contentment. We risk losing having the life we want.
What do we get from pleasing others?
We may superficially get what we want. We may get an easier interaction in the moment.
And we may also get quiet resentment, anger, and bitterness from having abandoned our authenticity, let go of asking or going for what we really want, prioritized others over our selves, and for what we have lost in the process.
What do we secretly wish for when we please others?
Apart from wishing for an easy interaction in the moment, we may wish or expect the other person to please us. I let go of my authenticity to please you, and you’ll do the same for me.
And when they don’t, for instance if they chose to be authentic and say “no”, we may get upset.
What’s the alternative to pleasing others?
It’s to be authentic, real, and being on our own side. We can do this with kindness and consideration, and we can seek solutions so that we both or all get what we really want. And we can do it with authenticity. We can speak with kindness and realness about what we really want, how we see the situation, and that we wish to find a strategy so we all can get our needs met. (Non-Violent Communication.)
When we please others, we inherently please our own issues
When we are in the habit of pleasing others, we do so because of our own emotional issues. We feel more safe by pleasing others, even if it is at our own cost.
In the moment we please others, we please our own issues telling us its safer to please others. We perceive and act as if these issues are true. We are no longer real with ourselves, and we are not real with our issues. We don’t expose these issues to the truth.
This may also get us into the general pattern of pleasing our issues. We perceive and act as if they are true instead of being real with them and questioning them.
What do you mean by pleasing our issues?
When we have hangups, emotional issues, and stressful beliefs come up, we can relate to them in different ways.
And when we are in a general pleasing mode and are used to pleasing, we may treat these issues in the same way. We please them. We appease them. We allow them to be as they are and run and color our lives.
The alternative is gentle tough love, truth, and cutting through the issues.
How can we be real with our issues?
It’s mainly about our orientation. Do we automatically believe what our fears tells us and act on them? Or do we notice what’s going on and question them?
It’s typically a process of noticing the fear.
Notice where we feel the fear in the body. Notice and allow the sensations, and notice they are simply physical sensations – and that the mind associates them with certain scary stories.
Listen to the fearful story behind it. See that it’s there to protect us. (It was often formed in our childhood and may no longer be as useful or appropriate for us as it was then.)
Question the stories and find what’s more true for us.
And act on what’s more true for us – with some discernment and kindness – and see what happens, while acknowledging that it can feel scary and we may be clumsy at first.
And then repeat as needed. It’s often helpful to find an ally in this and someone who can guide us through this process of being more real with ourselves, others, and our own issues.
How common is the general pleasing pattern?
I am not sure. I assume it’s relatively common. It seems to be a big part of our culture, for whatever reason. It’s probably a common strategy for getting along in a community, and it may be that Christianity – with its emphasis on martyrdom – has amplified it.
Thanks to my partner for the seed insight and reminder for this article <3