Why trying to please everyone is a lost battle

By valo | Neurodivergent_AI | 22 Jul 2023

Being a people pleaser is doomed to fail and guarantees misery


People-pleasing is a behavior pattern characterized by the excessive need to make others happy, often at the expense of one’s own well-being and personal boundaries. While it is normal to want to please others and be liked, people-pleasing can become a maladaptive coping mechanism that may have negative consequences on an individual’s mental and emotional health. In this exploration, we will ponder the reasons behind people-pleasing, its potential implications, and strategies for overcoming this behavior.

(Photo by João Victor Valeriote on Pexels) Origins of people-pleasing

People-pleasing can often be traced back to early childhood experiences. Individuals may have grown up in an environment where their worth was measured by their ability to please others, particularly authority figures such as parents, teachers, or caregivers. Over time, these individuals may have internalized the belief that their value and acceptance are dependent on meeting the needs and expectations of others.

(Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexel ) Fear of rejection

At its core, people-pleasing is often driven by a deep-rooted fear of rejection. People-pleasers may worry that if they fail to meet the expectations of others, they will be rejected, criticized, or abandoned. This fear can lead to a constant need to prove oneself and seek validation and approval from others.

( Photo by Ave Calvar Martinez on Pexel ) Low self-esteem

People-pleasing can be a symptom of low self-esteem. Individuals who struggle with feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy may seek to compensate by excessively catering to the needs and desires of others, hoping that this will make them more likable and valuable.

  1. Desire for control: Paradoxically, people-pleasing can also be a means of asserting control over one’s environment. By anticipating and fulfilling the needs of others, people-pleasers may feel that they can avoid conflict and maintain a sense of order and predictability in their lives.
  2. Empathy and compassion: Some individuals may be naturally empathetic and compassionate, leading them to prioritize the well-being and happiness of others. While these traits are admirable, they can become problematic when they result in self-sacrifice and a lack of attention to one’s own needs and boundaries.

People-pleasing can have numerous consequences for an individual’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being:

  1. Emotional exhaustion: Continually putting the needs of others before one’s own can lead to emotional exhaustion and burnout. People-pleasers may struggle with feelings of resentment, frustration, and anger as they constantly prioritize others at their own expense.
  2. Loss of identity: People-pleasers may lose sight of their own wants, needs, and desires as they focus on pleasing others. This can result in a loss of identity and a diminished sense of self-worth, making it difficult for them to assert their own preferences or make decisions based on their own values and desires.
  3. Damaged relationships: People-pleasing can create imbalanced and unhealthy relationships. By always accommodating the needs of others, people-pleasers may inadvertently enable others to take advantage of them or develop codependent dynamics. Furthermore, their inability to assert their own needs and boundaries can lead to feelings of resentment and frustration, ultimately harming the very relationships they are trying to preserve.
  4. Negative impact on mental health: The constant need to please others and the fear of rejection can contribute to chronic stress and anxiety. Over time, this can increase the risk of developing mental health issues, such as anxiety disorders, depression, or eating disorders.

Overcoming people-pleasing behavior requires self-awareness, self-compassion, and a commitment to prioritizing one’s own well-being. Some strategies for addressing people-pleasing include:

  1. Developing self-awareness: Recognizing and acknowledging the people-pleasing pattern is the first step toward change. This may involve reflecting on one’s past experiences and identifying the underlying fears and beliefs that drive people-pleasing behavior.
  2. Establishing boundaries: Learning to set healthy boundaries is crucial for overcoming people-pleasing. This may involve communicating one’s needs, preferences, and limits clearly and assertively, as well as saying “no” when necessary.
  3. Building self-esteem: Addressing the root causes of people-pleasing often involves working on improving self-esteem. Engaging in activities that promote self-confidence, self-worth, and self-acceptance can help individuals recognize that they are deserving of love, respect, and happiness, regardless of their ability to please others.
  4. Cultivating self-compassion: Developing a kind, understanding, and compassionate attitude toward oneself can be instrumental in overcoming people-pleasing. This may involve practicing self-forgiveness, self-care, and self-validation to replace the need for external validation and approval.
  5. Seeking professional help: For some individuals, overcoming people-pleasing may require the support of a mental health professional. Therapy can provide a safe space for individuals to explore their people-pleasing tendencies and develop healthy coping strategies and self-care practices.
  6. Strengthening assertiveness: Developing assertiveness skills can empower individuals to express their needs and feelings more effectively, leading to healthier and more balanced relationships. Assertiveness training, workshops, or therapy can provide practical tools and techniques for standing up for oneself without alienating others.
  7. Mindfulness and self-reflection: Practicing mindfulness and self-reflection can help individuals become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and motivations. By cultivating a non-judgmental and curious attitude toward oneself, individuals can better understand and address the underlying factors driving their people-pleasing behavior.

In conclusion, people-pleasing is a complex behavior pattern rooted in various psychological factors, including fear of rejection, low self-esteem, and a desire for control. While it may initially serve as a coping mechanism or means of gaining acceptance, people-pleasing can have significant negative consequences on an individual’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being. By recognizing the reasons behind this behavior and employing strategies to address them, individuals can begin to prioritize their own well-being, develop healthier relationships, and ultimately lead more authentic and fulfilling lives.


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A scientist and artist, a fan of technology, recently became a blogger.


Life with invisible disabilities but full of opportunities. Mental health, autism, ADHD

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