The Painful Art of People Pleasing


When it comes to people pleasing there are three types of people in life, first off there are the Altruists, as per Merriam Webster’s dictionary an Altruist is: “a person with unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others.“These are the peacemakers. The givers. The people who devote there lives to make sure other peoples lives are great. They are real saints in every sense of the word. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice for others. I have two perfect examples of people who were altruists, Jesus Christ and a Buddhist monk by the name of Thich Quang Duc. We will start with Jesus, he sacrificed his life, on the belief that the world would be cleansed from sin. His conviction toward the people was so firm that he gave up the ultimate sacrifice, his life so that the world could be saved. For those of you not familiar with Thich Quang Duc, he is a Buddhist monk, who self-immolated in protest of the South Vietnamese persecution of Buddhists. For those of you not familiar with self-immolation, its setting one’s self on fire, committing suicide by burning in protest. Another person who gave up their life for what they believe in, pretty much the ultimate people-pleasers, right? Not really, but we will touch on that in a little.

Next on our list of “types” are those wonderful Narcissists, as per Merriam websters narcissists are: “people who have an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves.” These are the people who use, who abuse, who are only concerned with their benefit. The takers. The people who use every waking minute to only worry about themselves and what they can accomplish to feed their ego. I have two great examples of narcissists, our current President Donald Trump and Alexander the Great. So we are all aware of the first guy, whether you voted for him or not (i’m not divulging my choice), you know he is the prime example of a narcissist. Between affairs with playmates and pornstars, twitter rants when something upsets him or the fact that he can never be wrong and seems to go through staff with no regard are all traits of a serial narcissist. Alexander the great, our second example, built armies solely for his vision of conquest, he went through soldiers and generals with blatant disregard for their lives, all so he could fulfill his grand ideas. Again another trait of narcissism, using people to reach a result that benefits yourself. Pretty much the anti people-pleaser’s right? Yes and no. The thing with narcissists is, they go through people so quickly that it is almost impossible for them to even allow a people-pleaser to waste their time. Narcissists usually use people for a specific goal and then dispose of them, great right? So if you look into it the effect a narcissist would have on a people-pleaser, it is so small, that they aren’t anti people-pleaser’s, they are pretty much anti-people in general.

Anyways let’s get back to the good stuff, why Jesus and Thich Quang Duc are not the ultimate people-pleasers. Jesus and Duc were both devoted to their cause, which was looking out for the greater good of humanity. Helping people where ever they could offer their services, ultimately giving up their lives for their cause. If you watch the video of Thich Quang Duc self-immolating you will see he does not scream or flinch the whole time he burns, talk about dedication. Jesus on the other hand, while being crucified, still found the time, to console one of the two thieves next to him, and assure him that after he die’s he will walk in paradise with Jesus and His Father. While these are extreme cases of altruism, your probably asking yourself, how aren’t these guys the ultimate people-pleasers? Well, there is a huge difference. Altruists devote their life to helping people. They love what they do, and they live for it. People-pleasers on the other hand, secretly hate people-pleasing, it’s not a passion, it doesn’t motivate them. If anything it affects their well-being in an extremely negative way.

This brings me to the last group, we will call this group The Rest of Us or the Realists, within this group is where you find the people-pleasers, the people who unknowingly take advantage of them and also the people who knowingly do. We wind up somewhere in the middle of the group mentioned above. So let’s define the people of this group a little better:

People Pleasers: obedient and subservient to the needs of other people

The Unknowing User: takes advantage of the obedience and subservience of the people please without really realizing they are doing so.

The Knowing User: knowingly takes advantage of the obedience and subservience of the people pleaser.

The Recipricator: Recipricate’s good deeds and also does not deal with crap!!

You know what the problem with the first three is? None of them would exist if people would worry about making themselves happy and stop trying to please everyone else. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and we will always have pleasers and users, it’s just the law of the jungle. I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum, as most of us probably.

The sad truth is, people pleasers want to be liked, they want to fit in, be part of a more significant thing, they have insecurities, self-esteem issues, and they try to please people by focusing on keeping them happy. This allows people both unknowingly and knowingly to take advantage of you, and in return respect becomes lost. The unknowing user gets so used to your pleasing that they become reliant on it, while the knowing user, knows that if they put anything on you, you will jump at the opportunity to please and in return it allows them to focus on their success; meanwhile you are at a disadvantage.

Now while there is nothing wrong with focusing on peoples happiness, there is a problem when it interferes with you focusing on your wellbeing. I am going to pound this into your head; it is almost impossible to make and keep people happy if you are not satisfied with yourself. Imagine trying to eat from an empty bowl or trying to grow a tree without a seed; it’s almost impossible. So how are you going to produce happiness when deep down you are not happy yourself? Focus on you! The truth is most people are concerned with there own success, and there is nothing wrong with that. The problem here lies with people pleasers adding to other peoples victory while they lay stagnant. This never builds the person up, and it only adds to their insecurities because everyone around them is growing and they are still pleasing. So how do you break this habit? I say start small. Don’t be afraid to say no, don’t be scared to take time for yourself, don’t be afraid to do what you enjoy. Pick up a new hobby, set a book reading goal, take a class that can advance you in your career, finish your master’s degree, travel, become cultured, do whatever it takes to allow yourself to grow.

You have to get back to pleasing people eventually, but when you do focus on the right people, who return the favor. These people follow the golden rule to a T. They do unto others as they would have done to themselves. They please those who please, they ignore those who use, and they have found happiness within themselves. They are the leaders of their teams, their families, and their friends. They don’t skimp on kindness, but they are also direct, letting you know if they agree or disagree. They have a vision and share that vision with like-minded individuals. These are the people you want on your team; this is the type of person you should aim to be.

Anyways, let’s get some interaction going on here, leave some comments about your own experience with people pleasing, tips on how to stop or anything you have done that allowed you to focus on your happiness and well-being. I look forward to hearing from you guys!!!


About Scott Gottstein

Business Owner, Reader, Lover of Life, New Father, Former Angry American. I am now focusing on what is important in my life. My family, my career, my health and doing what I love. I want you to join me on my journey and hopefully I can help you along the way!

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