My Life: Why people-pleasing doesn't always work

My Life: Why people-pleasing doesn't always work

June 24th, 2012 by Corin Harpe in Life Entertainment

I have discovered that everyone has flaws. Even if a person seems perfect, there is always some detail that is just a bit off.

It is important to recognize our flaws. One of mine is people-pleasing. I don't know how or when it started, but from a young age I have always felt compelled to place the needs of others above my own.

An underlying aspect of this trait could be just trying to live by the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." In interactions with others, the rule is always in my mind. Because I want people to think of my needs, I automatically think of theirs.

Then there is my struggle with karma, basically the idea that what comes around goes around. I try not to believe in karma, but deep down I do believe, and I find myself hoping that karma does exist in certain situations.

People-pleasing seems to have taken on an unconscious importance in my life.

More often than not, I am rewarded by people-pleasing. My friends tend to turn to me for advice and support because they know that I will try to help them. In general, they seem to enjoy being around me.

My demeanor is beneficial in situations where trust is involved. People are more willing to trust me because they know I have their best interests at heart. There is satisfaction in knowing that I have truly helped someone.

Despite these rewards, I am beginning to notice some downsides to people-pleasing. This whole process of putting people's needs before my own is starting to irritate me. Many times I find myself in situations, especially when more than one person is involved, where everyone seems to get what they want except me, even when the whole event was something that I wanted to do in the first place.

Sometimes I am appalled at people's selfishness. A good example of this is at family events, such as weddings or graduations, where there is either a dispute or family members are divorced. Very quickly, the focus shifts from the couple getting married or the person graduating to the drama of "I can't sit next to so and so." People just need to drop their personal issues and focus on why they are at the event.

People-pleasing also can lead to manipulation and control. There are people who recognize this personality trait and take full advantage. They are not bad people; they just have a different perspective. They take care of their own needs and wants first, and if someone is making it easier for them to meet those needs, they take full advantage. I see these people as hurtful, but they see themselves as doing nothing wrong because they have a different outlook.

Sometimes I wish I could be just as aggressive and selfish. And I recognize that many people see people-pleasing as a weakness. I do believe, however, that it is important to maintain a balance.

Lately, I have let my consciousness of others' feelings take over. Part of this comes from worrying about rejection. Some people are so important in my life that their rejection would be hard to handle and unpleasant to deal with, but by trying to please everyone, I am living in fear.

Instead, I need to balance my needs with those of others. My family, friends and acquaintances will understand that I have opinions, that I want things as much as they do. It is important to stay strong and firm, while still being courteous, in order to establish my own identity and to have my own persona.

Email Corin Harpe at