People Pleasing

I used to be proud of being a people pleaser.

My motto used to be: If you’re happy, I’m happy. If you’re unhappy, I’m unhappy.

I used to hurt myself if it meant I could stop other people from being hurt. For example, I did what I thought other people wanted me to do even though I didn’t want to do it.

I thought being a people pleaser made me kind, caring and selfless. I really want to be kind, caring and selfless because I value these traits, so I thought being a people pleaser was a good thing.

While my head agreed that we can’t please everyone, my experience told me I could. And I was subconsciously proud of it.

But this last year I finally learnt something: No matter what I do I can’t please everyone. And even if I could, there wouldn’t be an ‘I’ anymore.’

I tried so hard. I bent over backwards. I became a ghost. It broke me. I lost myself. I was so stressed, exhausted and unhappy. I couldn’t function like that for long.

It taught me that being a people pleaser isn’t good for me. It’s unhealthy and self-destructive. I used to think being a people pleaser was worth the pain it caused me, but too much pain and it isn’t worth it.

Now I’m learning how to be me again. A big step for me in doing this is simply to be honest. Being honest about what I’m feeling, who I am, and what I want to do.

Can you relate to being a people pleaser?

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38 thoughts on “People Pleasing

  1. Yes!! I can relate. I used to love how people would praise me for my selflessness. It wasn’t until I was the one in need that I realized that I taught everyone else to depend on me. No one thought I needed anyone, so no one offered to help. They told me I was strong enough to get through anything. I am strong, but I still need help. I learned that I had surrounded myself with a force field of altruism. No help or compassion could penetrate it. Everyone felt I had all the tools to heal myself because I was always giving it out to others. I was emptying my well and it was not getting refilled.

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing. When people told me I was selfless, I think my first thought was, ‘I’m not selfless enough.’ And I guess I always struggled with asking for help. To reveal that I was even struggling would be huge. And so I can see how people would think I didn’t need help even though on the inside it could feel like I was screaming for help. And I totally get the whole emptying of the well and it not being refilled. Finding the balance can be hard and frustrating sometimes.

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  2. I can totally relate! I used to be guilty of this as well but now I do it in moderation. It’s tough to find the balance but if you don’t you will suck the life out of yourself. Mind if I reblog? This is an important lesson 😉

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    1. Definitely think it’s tough finding a balance. Part of me think that not pleasing people is unacceptable. But the other part of me knows it is. Reconciling the two parts is a challenge.
      You are most welcome to reblog! Thanks so much!

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  3. I can relate to some extent. I wouldn’t really consider myself a people pleaser, because I tend to be stubborn and not listen to anyone, but one thing I’ve noticed is how sensitive I am to other’s feelings. I will try extra hard to be there and listen to people, and am so sensitive to not hurting them, that I sometimes act in ways that’s not true to me. I wish I could be more honest with people, and just say what I want to say.
    I’m working on it, at least. 😛

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing. I can sort of relate to that. I guess it depends on the circumstance when I’m stubbornly me and when I’m unsure of myself and will bend over backwards to please people. And I definitely have always made it my goal never to hurt anyone. So I can relate to being sensitive to other’s feelings. I admire the trait where we care so much about people, and I’d love to see it more in others, but I’m also aware that taken too far it can be harmful to the self. I guess it all comes back to trying to find that balance of caring for others and ourselves.

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  4. Growing up, I always described myself as having a puppy dog personality. Essentially, a people pleaser, as I’ve learned to call it since. So yes, I can relate. This has been on my mind a lot lately, as I am recovering from a destructive, emotionally abusive marriage. I’ve spent so long trying to please everyone else, that I seem to have lost some of the individual facets of my own identity. Now that I am healing, I am realizing that so much of my energy is spent on making sure everyone else is all right. That no one else is offended. When people have hurt me in the past, at times things get twisted up and I end up apologizing or doing what I can to make them feel better. Even if I was the offended party who really probably deserved an apology.

    I am striving towards honesty and authenticity. Speaking up, even if I don’t always agree. Man, is it hard. There is one thing I remind myself. And I don’t use it to give myself permission to manipulate, or to be mean or nasty. But I do use this to remind myself that I matter too. I have always worried so much about offending others, that I often don’t react when others offend me. Now, I try and be a little more upfront about my reactions. Not to be mean, but to make others consider what they are saying/doing and how it impacts me. Some don’t care, but a fair amount of folks really don’t want to offend.

    Good luck! It’s not easy to change these habits of years and years. But I think we can do them. 🙂

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    1. Wow, I very much relate to this. The whole taking the blame even when it’s the other person’s fault and I’ll say sorry even when I’m in the right. And all that energy spent on making sure other people are okay. It’s noble to care so much, and I do love that, but it is skewed and warped. It shouldn’t destroy our identity. I’m learning how to still care about people while still staying true to myself.
      It is a challenge speaking up and being honest though. I admire the people on the other side who find it easy to do this. I guess we can learn from each other.
      Wishing you well on your journey and thank you so much for sharing!

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  5. Yes and I think I am in that space now. I have burned myself out! But I am learning to say no without explaining my no and learning to love myself and see my worth. I pray you do the same! And I can relate to iBourgie also!

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    1. It really is exhausting isn’t it. Definitely know what it’s like to be burned out. Not explaining myself is so hard. I tend to over-explain when I don’t need to explain at all, and it’s hard to break out of that habit. When I blog, I find it comes up. I write posts and then go over them wondering if anything in them will hurt or offend people. And I try to explain anything that might be misunderstood. But I’m trying not to do that anymore when it’s based on a desire to be liked rather than a desire to simply communicate. Just trying to be me and share my words and not worry how people take it, because at least I know what it means to me.

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      1. Juni I do the same thing, explaining myself and over explaining myself as well as going back over what I write to not have it offend anyone. But my mom once told me that “you will not please everyone” and God wants us to be free of worry. So I practice trying to say no, not over explaining myself and being authentic with my writing and not worrying if it will offend! I pray you practice also and I pray we find peace in doing so!

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        1. Definitely trying to practice that. I said no to something recently and I’m working on being keeping my mouth shut instead of getting worked up and being defensive (justifying myself to people). And definitely going for that authentic voice in writing – it’s my favourite type of writing.

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        2. Awesome Juni!!!! I am so proud of you!!!!! It is a process and you and I will get there. Just remember, if our motive behind something is only to please that person and we don’t want to make them mad, um, that is not a good motive. It is okay to say no when we are prompted to. I recently was offered to go into some kind of business. I already have a lot on my plate. I prayed about it and knew in my heart it wasn’t something I needed to do. Thank God, I said no!!!!!

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  6. When we have been in the practice of being a people pleaser, it is a very big step and a long journey to come back to our person and find our balance while remembering to care for the self. Always remember that you will not be able to care for others if you are not cared for. Caring for the self is a way of caring for others =)

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    1. I think people pleasing made me happy for the most part, probably due to the whole pride thing. I thought I was good at it, people were pleased, I was succeeding at pleasing them, it made me happy. But then it did become miserable when It felt like I lost myself. Enjoying the journey to finding myself again. Thanks heaps!

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  7. Great post! I can most definitely relate to being a people pleaser and it can be really difficult to stop wanting to please people. I had to learn the hard way until I was completely drained of my own self. Then I began being honest with the people around me and they actually appreciated that more than when I wasn’t.

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    1. For a long time I thought I would never want to stop pleasing people. Not when the results were so good. I guess it was when I suddenly couldn’t please people no matter what I did that I finally stopped wanting to do it. That draining of self is horrible but I think an essential place to get to, and I’m thankful for it. Just got the long journey ahead to break out of it now.
      I love that! It’s so true that people appreciate us when we are ourselves and honest. Not everyone will, but that’s okay. At least we’re being true to ourselves. Thanks heaps for sharing!

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    1. Definitely trying to learn the balance. The word selfish always makes me feel guilty so I’m not sure it makes me feel great. But simply staying true to myself is feeling pretty good. It’s a bit scary and I don’t always please people, but it’s better than that disintegration of self. Thanks heaps for sharing!

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  8. People pleasers do not have a strong sense of Self. If they did, they would stand up for their principles and beliefs. It is never good to be a people pleaser. Good for you that you have stopped it before it did a lot of damage in you!

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    1. I think also it might be for me that I thought of myself as a bad person and therefore had to make up for it by making sure I pleased people. So, on the one side I feel like I had a strong sense of self in certain areas but I thought that self wouldn’t be liked or it would hurt people. Of course, in other areas I didn’t have a strong sense of self at all. And overall, it felt like it did quite a bit of damage. Thus why I don’t ever want to go back there again. It wasn’t fun at all, but definitely thankful for it, so now I’m aware of it. Thanks heaps for sharing and getting me thinking!

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      1. I agree, I feel you can still have a strong sense of self and be a people pleaser. You know who you are, what you want and what you value. But you put others first because you want so much for them to feel good.Is it crazy to say that you have such a strong sense of self that you feel you can handle to put yourself on the back burner because you feel the other person needs it more? Then in the end it just builds up and you realize no one is looking out for you.

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        1. That’s it. I often think not the example of introversion. I know I’m an introvert and I know I need time alone to recharge or else I get stressed and frustrated. But to please people I will go out when I don’t want to and feel bad about leaving even though I have a strong sense of myself as an introvert and my need to recharge; I’m just worried about offending people if I don’t go out. I’m learning to not feel guilty about the way I am and to not have explain myself all the time. Definitely hard sometimes but it’s a journey.

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        2. It definately is a journey! For me, I realized, I am a people pleaser to an extent. I will wear myself out and deplete my energy levels.. But I don’t do things that go against my morals or values to please people. And I won’t please just anyone. I will please my family and friends and occasionally acquaintances who I feel could benefit from my help and truly need it. Because I am an INFJ, I am a helper. Its who I am. Anyways, nowadays I have realized I can still do this – I just need to put me first and make sure my energy levels are good! And I am now more geared towards helping people help themselves. Because I learned me enabling them isnt truly helping them. ;):):)

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        3. I can relate to that. In some ways I feel like I’m quite strict at adhering to who I am. And I can so relate to being an INFJ helper. It’s just in my nature, can’t help it. Energy levels are definitely important. I feel like it’s the major thing I have to manage daily. And I love the idea of helping people help themselves. Love your thoughts!

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        4. Thank you Juni 🙂 I agree with you, definately something that needs to be managed day – to – day. I love your thoughts/blog. I followed you on Twitter! I hope that’s not weird haha, was hoping to get to know you better!

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        5. So glad you understand that too! No, that’s not weird at all – hehe. I’ve got my Twitter advertised for that reason. Love it and would to get to know you better too. Love the connections blogging brings.

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        6. Awesome 🙂 I feel bad leaving unrelated comments on your blog! I tried to direct message you on twitter but I suppose you have it set that you need to be following the person in order for them to DM you! If you would like to, I’d be open to it and if not that is totally okay too. 🙂

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        7. No need to feel bad, I don’t mind at all. I’ve never actually direct messaged via twitter before. I’m not very clued up in twitter. If it’s easier, you can message me through my writer’s facebook page or through email.

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  9. Thank you for writing this Juni. I feel so similar to you. It also took me a long time to realize I was hurting myself doing this, even if I saw positive results from others. I now believe that I can be me, and even if a few people leave, it will ultimately attract the people who I really want to be around. 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing. It’s definitely hard to stop being a people pleaser when you do such a good job of it. To break out of it seems silly. But definitely learning that it’s better to be real even if people don’t get you or like you. It honours other people as well, to give them your real self instead of something fake and pleasing. Love it!

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