Why Pleasing Others Doesn’t Work

Most of us want to please others for one reason or another.  Most of us have some type of misconception (on some level or another) that if we are pleasing others, we’ll be liked, loved, accepted and even appreciated more than if we were simply ourselves.  Whatever it is, all of us do it to some extent or another, unless we have some type of emotional or mental health disorder whereby, we lose the ability to care if we’re liked or not.  We all want to be liked, loved and accepted to one degree or another.  

No one wants to feel alone, un-loved, friendless or rejected but, is "People Pleasing" the answer?  Does it help or push us further away from others?
No one wants to feel alone, un-loved, friendless or rejected but, is “People Pleasing” the answer? Does it help or push us further away from others?


The questions are, does people pleasing work or, can it turn against us.  

For the most part, doing good, helping others, being a pleasant, kind, generous person, is a good thing.  Not many people wish to be in the company of a narcissistic, self-centered, obnoxious, rude or unhelpful person.  So, in that sense, yes…it can be an aid to us being wanted as parts of social circles and families.  

However, there comes a point at which we can cross lines and do ourselves more harm than good by being a “do-gooder”.  

We’ve all heard the phrase, “you reap what you sow” so, it’s only natural that we’d come to the conclusion that doing good, pleasing others and following the Golden Rule, might naturally mean that we would be loved, respected, accepted and wanted.  Even more logical is the idea that doing more and more of those things, would result in more adulation, acceptance, love, gratitude and a plethora of people who love our company and, it becomes an addiction after awhile for some of us.  

While some helpful attempts are thought of nicely, it doesn’t necessarily mean that more is better. 

We’ve all heard the saying, “the Road To Hell is paved with good intentions” and “no good deed goes un-punished”.  There’s a reason why those were written.  

There’s a fine line between being helpful and pleasing and, being seen as intrusive and a doormat.  Where that line gets drawn is hard to decipher but, if you’re wondering why, in spite of all of the good that you do, all of the help that you give, all of the effort that you’ve put into trying to please others, you’re considered an outcast and no one is calling you, you’ve found that line and you’ve crossed it.  

Confusing, isn’t it?

Well, it can be rather disgruntling to figure out that what we call “Karma” doesn’t always work the way that it should but, it’s really not all that complicated to figure out why it isn’t.  There’s a few key points that put it more or less into some type of perspective.  

First of all, in trying to please others, we lose sight of who we are within ourselves.  We pretzel twist ourselves into versions of what we think we want others to see.  We are “the actors” and, no one really buys into the act.  They might not put their fingers on it but, they know, deep down inside that there’s something phoney about us, even if they can’t pin-point it directly.  It’s instinctive to know that someone isn’t being who they really are.  That, in and of itself, can make people suspicious and distrustful of us.  

Secondly, once we’ve lost sight of who we really are through our quest to please others, we lose some of the most interesting and inspirational aspects of ourselves.  We actually become “dull/boring”.  After all, who really wants to be around someone who is seemingly drippingly sweet and pleasing?  It makes them, feel guilty about themselves, their own being and why they can’t be like those who are pleasing them.  We become “non-people” and people lose respect for those who don’t respect themselves, their time and, worst of all, don’t know who we are or, where our boundaries lay.  

Thirdly, doing good for them and pleasing them at first, is nice.  After that, repeated attempts becomes rather obnoxious.  Let’s face it, not many love to be waited on hand and foot constantly. We also need to do for ourselves.  The “Do-Gooder” then becomes that pesky fly that we want to shoo away as quickly as possible or, not let them in to bother us anymore.  

Fourthly, doing nice things and being helpful once or twice is thought of as either a nice gesture or a favor.  It’s accepted and appreciated (unless the person you’re doing it for is a user and abuser).  Doing it more than that and especially, on a regular basis and people come to expect it from you.  It’s now, no longer a nice favor but, it eventually become expected as your “job”.  Try stopping it.  Watch the horror, anger and rejection you’ll get.  

Beyond those points, the other scenarios become that you have made yourself their doormat, they count on you being there to please them and do things for them and they feel angered, hurt or betrayed when you can’t do it or, you’re just plain tired out from your Mother Teresa acts of kindness and giving.  

More than anything, it must be remembered that by helping people out constantly, you are putting yourself in a position whereby, you have seen other’s weaknesses.  While they love the help at the moment, it’s human nature to eventually not need it anymore but, realize that you know their weaknesses.  This is where it becomes that “line” that was talked about.  

People don’t like to feel that they are in the presence of someone who knows many, if not all of their weaknesses when they are feeling stronger and have gotten past the worst part of things. The sight of us can bring both embarrassment as well as an association back to the time when they were feeling weakest, even if we’ve never uttered a word again about it.  

Lastly, no one likes to constantly feel “indebted” to someone else.  However, when someone has given of themselves so freely, without expectation, pay or pay-back of any kind, that sense of owing us something can linger and make others feel ill at ease while around us.  We are ever the reminder that they somehow owe us something.  

So, next time that you’re tempted to please someone or do something for someone, ask yourself why you are doing it.  If you are only doing so to gain friendship, acceptance or to avoid rejection, stop right there because you’re likely heading yourself directly towards the very things that you’re attempting to avoid by these acts.  

Also keep in mind that charity begins at home.  If you’re going to help someone out, do it once or twice but, not consistently.  When you feel the urge to help someone else on any sort of regular basis, make it a “paid” endeavor by asking for something in return (even if not equal in value to what you’re doing) or, ask to be paid for your consistent help so as to let people know that you respect yourself and they should too.  It also breaks that feeling of indebtedness that they will eventually come to hold against you in one way or another.  

Most of all, remind yourself that you are every bit as worthy as the next person.  Don’t lose sight of that by attempting to please everyone else and putting yourself as well as your own needs and wants on the back-burner.  Not only will it not win you any brownie points but, it will take away your sense of self.  No one likes a doormat…except those who are users.  Do you really want one or more of those types of people in your life?  Those people are the only ones who love a pleaser and a doormat.  

Do yourself a favor.  Give and help but, in small doses.  Please others now and again but don’t make it a habit.  If you’re going to help someone on a regular basis, have a trade-off, barter system or, ask to be paid.  You and your time are equally as valuable as anyone else and their time.  Love yourself and others will follow suit.  We train people how to treat us.  If we don’t respect and love ourselves, they won’t either.  Most of all, if you’re not getting back from others, move on.  Don’t try to please them by showering them with pieces of your self-esteem or by doing more and more for them.  It doesn’t work the way one would think it does.  Spend more time on doing things for and with yourself and respecting yourself.  Eventually, others will follow suit.

That’s simply my experience and advice from my little corner of life.   



Published by ponderinglifetoo

I'm a wife, mother, artist, photographer and bookkeeper. I love writing out my thoughts in journals but, am finding my way to sharing these with others now.

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