Why People Pleasing feels Toxic (Part 1)

Woman walking on a long flagstone pathway snaking through a grassy field in the Yorkshire Dales, England, UK. Focus vignette added in post-production.

If there’s one thing that makes it difficult to know your unique expression in this world, it’s when you try to please others to keep them happy. I’m currently working with someone who for their very survival, found it critical to please others as she was growing up, just so that she would belong within her family. And this is not unique to her; it’s true for most of us to some degree. We’ve either learnt to please people, or rebel (or some combination of the two) as a way of belonging within our family of origin and getting the love (if not food, clothing, shelter etc) that goes along with it.

The problem with trying to keep the peace or make others happy (often for our own emotionally safety), is that we focus continually on monitoring what is needed on the outside by those around us. This is particularly common in women, but many men do it as well – particularly in their partnered life.

Most people pleasers I know (and there are many!) are no longer clear on their own boundaries or on what it is that truly brings them joy. Their joy has become more about other people’s joy.

Furthermore, the more you focus on external circumstances and on pleasing others, the less aware you are of what is authentic and true within your own nature. So it makes it even more difficult to navigate the moment by moment decisions that feed your spirit and keep you moving you along your unique pathway in this world.
In the coming weeks, I will be sharing more on this topic but for now it’s important to understand that people pleasing is self harming first and foremost because you lose your own sense of purpose, expression and direction. The very things that make you, you.


With love,