Living to Please Others is a Useless Sacrifice

The problem that we are faced with when we try to please everyone is that in addition to forgetting about ourselves, we will never be able to make everyone happy.
Living to Please Others is a Useless Sacrifice
Bernardo Peña

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Bernardo Peña.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

People consider that to seek to please others is a good thing. However, it’s also very draining for the person who is thinking of everyone except him or herself. Since we were young, we’ve been taught this attitude. We’ve been told to do things that we don’t always want to do if it’s what others want.

Because of this, we start to forget about ourselves. However, there comes a time when we feel so drained that we have to stop and ask ourselves, “Who am I?” and “What do I want?”

Unfortunately, we may not know the answer to this question. Regardless of this, the fact we have asked the question can be the first step on the path to finding ourselves again.

To please others could mean that we suffer

Always trying to please others can cause us a lot of pain. This is because we’ll be doing things that we don’t want to do. In many cases, we’re going to disregard our own values. For example, if you’re in a relationship and you cannot stand the smell of smoke in the house, you might let your partner smoke in the house without telling him not to, just to make him happy.

This creates a lot of bottled up frustration, which will only make things worse until, eventually, things come to a head. Likewise, it could be that your parents want you to act in a certain way that is different from who you actually are or want to be.

Faced with this situation, your anxiety tells you to push the “please others” button. By doing this, you keep trying to make everyone happy. But at what price?

The price is not prioritizing yourself, putting yourself in second place, and of being in constant search of the approval of others.

Are other people your source of happiness?

It may sound like a paradox thinking that pleasing everyone around you can make you suffer. However, there’s an explanation for this. When you do this, you’re putting your own happiness in someone else’s hands.

You start pleasing others in order to feel better about yourself, or when another person is angry or disappointed at you, you become anxious and seek to change things. You find yourself in a dead end street.

Consequently, you try to get rid of the conflict. You’ll resort to always trying make sure that your opinion is what other people want to hear. What happens is that you’ll simply go where others want you to go, not to where you actually want to go.

In the end, what kind of life are you living? Is it yours or someone else’s? If you don’t take control, your life may become meaningless. You can’t lose sleep over the fact that a friend is angry with you because you said “no” to hanging out, no matter what the reason.

Neither should you worry about meeting the expectations that everyone else has for us.

You have to learn to accept disapproval or negativity when you give your opinions, make decisions, or do the things you want. They’ll get over it!

Read more: Don’t Let Internal Conflicts Lead to External Issues

Start to make yourself happy

In order to get yourself to stop pleasing everyone around you, you have to work really hard on your self-esteem. In addition to your insecurities, it was probably because of this that you began to act this way.

Once your self-esteem is where it should be, you have to start changing some old habits.  Start to say “no” when you want to say “no.” If someone gets angry, don’t get upset. Sooner or later, they’ll get over it (it’s not the end of the world after all!).

See also: 4 Aspects of Saying “No” that Don’t Make You a Bad Mother

Prioritize yourself. Give priority to your decisions: what you want, your opinions, and your dreams. But, above all else, prioritize your well-being. You don’t have to do anything that doesn’t make you feel good. You’re wearing yourself down in vain. You’re suffering, and this can cause anxiety and depression.

Why don’t you start living for yourself?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Blasco, J. Dependencia emocional: características y tratamiento. Vol. 260. Alianza Editorial, 2005.
  • Hoyos, M., Londoño, N., y Zapata, J. “Distorsiones cognitivas en personas con dependencia emocional.” Informes psicológicos9.9 (2007): 55-69.
  • Braiker, H. B. (2001). La enfermedad de complacer a los demas. Edaf.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.