When it comes to pleasing others, ideally, this will be a choice and not something one feels they have no control over. If one feels that they always need to please others, it is going to interfere with their ability to listen to their own needs and emotions.
And when one feels the need to please others, it could be the result of what is taking place externally and internally. If one feels this pressure on the inside, they are likely to project their inner experience onto the outer world.
What this means is that one is likely to believe that other people want them to do as they say, regardless of whether this is actually the case. One is then unable to be present and to express their true self.
However, if one feels the need to please others, there is the chance that they are going to attract people who reflect this outlook. The inner pressure that one feels is then going to be backed up by the external pressure of the people they spend their time with or come across in their day to day life.
So whether the need to please other people is simply an inner experience that is being projected out or something that is also an outer experience, it is going to limit one’s ability to live authentically.
One is not going to be able to do what they want and this doesn’t mean living a life without consequences, it simply means that one listens to themselves. While pleasing others might feel normal, it is unlikely to lead to personal fulfilment.
However, if one is used to pleasing others their point of focus is not going to be on whether their needs are being met if they are in tune with their own emotions, it is going be on whether they are doing what they need to do to please other people.
Whether they are fulfilled or not, is going to be irrelevant; what matters is fulfilling other people needs and making sure one does what other people want them to do.
So pleasing others may cause one to feel accepted and supported on one side, but there is likely to be another side that won’t disappear. And one might be fully aware of this side or they might do everything they can stop themselves from having to face it.
The other side is the part of oneself that doesn’t want to please others. And as this side exists, there is always going to be a sense of unease around pleasing other people. Over the years, this part could be pushed out of one’s awareness so that they are only mildly aware of it.
What this then means, is that one will need to receive other people’s permission when it comes to what they do or do not do in life. It then won’t matter that one has the ability to decide for themselves what they will or won’t do, as they will let other people decide.
If other people knew what one need to do in life, this would be a problem. It won’t matter if one is around people who are controlling or not, as one is going to give of the impression that they want to please others. And because they give off this impression, it is going to be difficult for some people to treat them differently.
If ones focus is on pleasing other people it could mean that they are out of touch with what is going on within them. Therefore, they could be completely out of touch with what is going on inside them.
And this could be something that one does without even thinking about it. It is what feels comfortable at a deeper level and it won’t matter that one personal fulfilment ends up being compromised in the process. But although this might feel comfortable, it doesn’t mean that one won’t end up feeling frustrated, angry or powerless, as a result of behaving in this way.
What’s The Benefit?
Now, if one wasn’t getting anything from pleasing other people they wouldn’t do it; the trouble is that this benefit is often unconscious. It is something that controls how they feel, how they perceive other people and their behaviour, but it could be just out of their awareness.
This can come down to the fear of being abandoned and if one is aware of why they please others, they might already know this. Not gaining other peoples approval is then interpreted as a threat to their survival.
Why Is This?
One might wonder how not getting another person’s approval could be experienced as a threat to their survival and yet, there is a good reason for it. It could be a reflection of what ones childhood years were like and how they had to please the people around them in order to survive.
If they didn’t take care of their caregiver/s needs, they might have been abandoned. And at such a young age, being abandoned would have been overwhelming and would have felt like the end of the world. One would have learnt that they had to please the people around them or they would be left.
This then causes one to associate pleasing others with being accepted, supported and loved. And if they were to displease other people, it could lead to being abandoned and that they would die.
Physically one has grown but the same can’t be said for their level of emotional development. Emotionally they still feel the same and the impact this is having on their life is only too clear.
The emotional experiences of the past might need to be processed so that one can let go of the associations they have held onto for so long. Or one may find that their behaviour begins to change after they have questioned their associations. The assistance of a therapist, healer or a coach may be needed.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.