It’s human nature to want friends and to seek the validation of others, hence some folks aim to be a people pleaser.
A Sample Scenario
Alicia, a 23 year old, single woman works in the collections department for a large law firm. She never had a steady boyfriend and feels she lacks good social skills. Also, she doesn’t see herself as particularly attractive and never gets asked out for dates. Furthermore, she envies her coworkers who brag about how great their social lives are and good times they have with their friends or husbands.
Why not her? She’s a loner.
Alicia never speaks much when she goes out to lunch with the girls or happy hours after work. All the other coworkers chat amongst each other in the office, but rarely if ever, mingle with her. At work meetings, she is quiet and tense, wondering what all her coworkers are thinking of her. Are they thinking derogative thoughts about her?
Still, her coworkers seem to like her even if she is a bit quiet. She’s even been in some of their homes on special occasions and loves how nice they keep them. All her friends seem to have nice furniture and electronics, not to mention, well decorated homes. Alicia just lives in a run down, old apartment and gets depressed with how old and drab her furniture is and how the place is in need of repair.
Alicia Becomes a People Pleaser
Despite her beliefs of being a misfit, Alicia is pleased with her job at the law firm as a collections rep. She seems to be making great headway while talking to the debtors. Also, she likes watching the payments come in from them.. Most of all, the job pays well and its income brings hope of a promising future. One day soon, she hopes to live more like her well-seasoned colleagues.
But, you’ll never catch Alicia sulking. She knows that feeling sorry for herself won’t help fill her ‘social void.’ If she wants more friends, she must act appropriately. How? By convincing her coworkers that she possesses the same likes and tastes as they do. To her, that means becoming a people pleaser.
Her first plan is to shop for dressy clothing. This will help kill her inner insecurity: people are turning their noses up at her because of the outdated outfits she wears. It makes her feel inferior as she feels others don’t seem to think she’s as intelligent as they are.
But will a whole new dress wardrobe turn her life around? We’ll have to see about that.
Alicia Tries Hard to Fit In
Along with her new dress attire, Alicia acts more like her colleagues. She observes how everyone talks and laughs and even goes as far as adopting certain people’s habits. Although she was never into cooking, jewelry, or craft making before, she pretends she has done these things all her life. Most of all, she only tells her coworkers things they’d like to hear, just to win their validation.
Alicia’s People Pleaser Plan Fails
After a few months, she discovers that she really hasn’t won their approval. She spent a great amount of money on crafting supplies, baking goods, and trendy outfits. Unfortunately, she lost her desire to make crafts and bake nice desserts. Although she loves her new clothes, she finds they haven’t improved how others perceive her.
After a few months of trying to impress her colleagues, she really hasn’t made any close friends at the office, whatsoever. Many of them can see that she was just trying to win their approval and wasn’t really genuine. Some were even disappointed as she failed to deliver on her promises. Now, it seems she’s caught up in lies and personal debt.
Why We Care What Others Think
It Starts In Childhood
Our natural urge to be a people pleaser goes back to early childhood. As humans, we depend on the company of others our age to keep us happy. Children don’t like to be all alone. This makes them feel inadequate. Kids love to play, but in order to play, they need others who will play with them. Also, if they don’t receive a great amount of attention from their parents, they feel not loved.
Usually, children are successful at finding peers to interact with. As they do, they begin to develop social skills. Kids are happy when playing with others, but sometimes there are disputes that end up in fights. Most fights end up in violence. Children measure their worthiness on their abilities to outfight their opponents. Once a first kid succeeds at beating up a second kid, the first kid thinks he’s better guy than the second and can even control him.
Every school has its bullies. Bullies are usually boys who felt neglected and under loved by their parents or just weren’t treated right when they were little. Having faced much rejection from nearly everyone around them, they feel they have to prove their self-worth by beating up other kids. They strive to gain back that long lost attention and to convince their peers how powerful they are.
We Need to Prove Our Own Worthiness
As we grow, our needs to socialize and interact with others grow with us. We continue learning new things and developing new skills and hobbies. As we do, we seek out the company of others who can help compliment our needs. Sometimes we need permission from our parents to do certain things, so we do our best to earn their approval. Hence, we really care of what our parents and family members think of us.
And to enjoy using our newfound skills, we need others who we can work or even compete with. This means winning approval from our peers. We know we can learn from them and vice-versa. Likewise, we can share our resources with one-another to further enhance our hobbies. In order to work together among two or more people, we must learn to get along and be fair. If we truly value their friendship, we will do most anything to keep it. Hence, we care what they think of us.
Adults Need Approval Too
Our social needs don’t stop when we become adults. Most grownups dread the thought of being lonely, especially those under 50. We all need someone to turn to in times of trouble or emotional despair, not to mention our romantic needs. People who spend too much time alone become unhappy and insecure. They feel unwanted and conclude that there must be something wrong with them. They’ll tend to worry what people think of them.
However, there are exceptions to fearing loneliness. As time goes on, an increasing number of adults pursue careers and thus, are busy with not only raising their children, but working full-time and attending college. With their busy lifestyles, they’d rather be alone. As for these individuals, they know they must say “no” to others and not worry about being people pleasers.
Still, there are times when every adult needs validation. We all need someone to tell us we’re OK and what we’ve done for others is acceptable. Every worker likes being told they’re doing a good job as this gives them the assurance that their job is secure. Spouses need approval from each other just to know they’re making their partner happy as they should. Students gain validation through the grades they receive from assignments and tests they’ve taken. As we work to fulfill our survival needs, we all want to be sure we’re on the right track.
And most of all, nobody likes rejection. Rejection comes in many forms as:
- getting fired.
- being left out or uninvited.
- being ignored.
- losing a lover or a friend.
- getting yelled at or chastised.
- being turned down.
- becoming a misfit.
- receiving a bad grade in school.
Because we all fear it, we make our best efforts to prevent it from happening. Rejection not only hurts, but can be quite maddening. And to prevent it, we try to make others happy and perhaps, become a people pleaser.
Why You Should Stop Being a People Pleaser
We’ve all been there before. We’re out with our friends, having a great time, when suddenly we see someone we know. And in that split second, we start to worry about what they think of us. Are we dressed too casually? Are we laughing too loud? Do they think we’re cool?
Imagine that someone they know was you. If you’re just looking for someone to hang out with, you’re not going to prejudge them by how they dress or laugh. We all know that people are different in their own ways and thus, can’t expect them to dress or act exactly how we want them to. Hence, if you like these people, you’re not likely to walk away from them just because of their differences.
You can exercise control over how you react to others. Cole Hastings presents the reasons why you should not care what others think. See the video: Why You Care So Much (and How to Stop)
Don’t Be a Slave to the Likes of Others
It’s natural to want to make a good impression on the people we encounter in our everyday lives. But sometimes, this desire can cross over into obsession territory. We start to care more about what other people think of us than what we think of ourselves. We become so wrapped up in trying to control our image that we lose sight of who we really are.
So why is it so important to stop caring what other people think about you? For one thing, it’s a huge waste of energy. Constantly worrying about what other people think is exhausting, both mentally and emotionally. It’s also unproductive. You’ll never be able to please everyone, so you might as well focus on making yourself happy.
Another reason to stop caring what other people think is that it’s holding you back from being your true self. When you’re too worried about other people’s opinions, you’re not able to be authentic and genuine. As a result, you miss out on opportunities for real connection and intimacy. Instead of living your life for others, start living your life for yourself!
Trying to Impress Others Often Doesn’t Work
So, you want to win the approval of an individual or be a highly valued by a group of people. What do you do to achieve this? People have been known to do things like:
- do an exceptionally great job.
- dress nicely.
- exhibit their talents or skills to others.
- help out someone who’s in trouble.
- prove how knowledgeable or skill they are.
Sometimes these tactics work, other times they don’t. If you know what the receiving party wants from you, but questions your expertise, you will likely succeed. There’s nothing like calling one’s bluff to prove you are worthy of their acceptance.
On the other hand, if you imply to them in some way, the receiving party may not get the gist of what you’re doing. For example, if there’s a pretty woman you want to date, so you dress nice in hopes you’ll get her attention, your put on will likely fail.
Unless there is some form of direct communication between you and the receiving person, you’re not likely to succeed. Throwing hints rarely ever works. Also, as I said before, every person has their own train of thought just like you have yours. No two people think alike. Even if the receiver notices what you’re doing (say dressing up), they may not realize you’re doing it for them.
Sometimes You Have to Say No
Being the social creatures we are, a great number of us seek out groups to become members of. For some, it’s just in the workplace and our families (especially large ones). As for others, we join special interest groups or organizations that help promote our careers.
Being a member of any social group is great. You can share your personal experiences with other members and vice-versa. Every member joins these groups in hopes of making new friends, learning things that compliment their careers or hobbies, and perhaps, as an added means of entertainment. When we need help, it’s nice to have someone nearby who has the skills and resources we need. Also, it’s a nice feeling when you can help anybody in your group when they need it.
Contributing your efforts can be rewarding, especially when you see how it helps others or the group as a whole. And showing off your finer skills is sure to earn you some great validation and recognition. This is also rewarding if it boosts your qualifications for future jobs.
As You Help Others, Others Will Help You
Likely you heard the term “what goes around comes around.” You also been told to “do unto others as you would have done unto you.” So for example, if your group needs fliers or newsletters printed up and you have your own computer equipment and great writing skills, you may be so enticed to do so. On the other hand, if a good friend needs someone to take care of their pets while they’re on vacation, but can’t seem to find a pet sitter, you can volunteer.
Sometimes It’s Best to Tell People No
Helping Out Others Can Be Rewarding
But like anyone else, you have your limitations. Hence, you can’t always be a people pleaser to everyone. By telling everyone yes, you soon may find yourself strapped down with too many obligations to meet. If this happens, you’ll be unable to do what you want or need to and this may bring stress on you and won’t do a thing for your finances. You have to leave some breathing room for yourself. Thus, you can’t be a people pleaser.
Saying no to others shouldn’t hurt your relationship with them. Sure, you don’t want to leave anyone “high and dry” but there’s only so much you can do. After all, whenever someone considers asking for favors or help, they know that there’s a possibility that those they ask might say no. A level headed, rational adult will accept that no and find an alternate plan to solve their problem. On the other hand, if the person you say no to becomes angry and decides to cut ties with you, they never were a real friend of yours to begin with.
And worst of all, bogging yourself down with too many tasks and responsibilities will take its toll on your physically and mentally. Not only can this make you face each day stressed out and tired, but might also hurt your self esteem. You might even believe you have low self-worth, but that isn’t true. Your only problem is is that you’re too much of a people pleaser. And helping so many others out won’t win you more friends.
Strangers Aren’t As Judgmental As They Seem to Be
First of all, everything people choose to do is believed to serve them some type of purpose, or they wouldn’t do it at all. This means their actions are done to fulfill their needs, whether it be running errands or seeking entertainment. They just go to places they need to go. Thus, they’re so busy getting things done, they don’t care what kind of people they run into along the way.
Everyone Is Mainly Focused On Their Own Needs
Second, not all people live, act, and do things as we would. Folks come in all shapes, sizes, cultures, religions, lifestyles, etc. and will live how they choose to. Hence, they will act, appear, and dress however they were brought up to do. With the great diversity of cultures, there is no one-size-fits-all way of making them all to our personal liking. Everyone has different beliefs, convictions, and morals and these are things nobody can change.
Third, we learn to accept individuals as they are. So, if we see a traits in strangers we don’t agree with, we just can’t demand them to make whatever changes we’d like them to. Say for example, if we run into someone with disgusting hygiene, we can’t order them to take a shower. We know that if we try, most likely, the person we confront will become defensive and urge us to mind our own business. After all, they’re not worried about what others think of them so should you be concerned with what others think of you?
Each Person Has Their Own Train of Thought
Fourth, everyone’s train of thought is different from yours. So, you can be in crowded room and though you’re all in the same environment, not everyone is thinking like you. They just hope by being there, this group gathering will serve its intended purpose. Their main concerns are being comfortable there, finding a good seat, and hoping the event won’t run longer than expected. Hence, they’re not so focused on what the others there are like. And for those there who never met you, most likely, they’re not paying any attention to you.
Even people you know well don’t think exactly like you. So you may be in the same environment, but each person perceives it in their own way. Though the place gives you positive vibes, that may not be so with them. You can never tell how your acquaintances feel until you converse with them. Again, everyone there is so focused on their own needs and reasons for being there, they’re not as concerned about how others appear to them.
People Aren’t Thinking About You So Much
When you’re among strangers, nobody knows you. Being they never interacted with you before, they have nothing to judge you by. That’s assuming that your personal appearance blends in with the crowd and your behavior isn’t so obscene that it attracts attention.
As you know, so many individuals fear social settings. Some groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous or Toastmasters require that each person shares their thoughts on what’s being discussed at these meetings. Some utterly refuse to go to group gatherings unless they have a friend there with them. Worst of all, most refuse to stand up and talk in front of a room full of strangers
Why? They lack confidence when speaking in public. These folks worry that they’ll say something so stupid, wrong, or insignificant that the audience will stare or laugh at them. However, listeners know nothing about them and thus, have nothing to judge them by, good or bad. As it turns out, unless the first-time speaker says something absolutely ridiculous or offensive to some, nobody is going to remember a thing he or she said once the meeting is over.
It takes many interactions with a stranger before you really get to know the person. So, even if the new member messes up when sharing, what they said is most likely to be soon forgotten.
Meanwhile, each person in the audience is so concerned with themselves, most of them do not pay attention to everything each member says and may be guilty of daydreaming. They’re mainly focused on what their friends have to say and the rest soon becomes blocked out.
And how can people who don’t know you judge you just by seeing you only once. After all people are people and we’re all very much the same. Worrying about what others think about you is absolutely silly and meaningless. You’re not inferior to them and vice-versa. Also, see my post on Comparing Yourself to Others.
The bottom line is that you should stop caring what other people think about you because it’s holding you back from being your true self and living your best life. So the next time you catch yourself worrying about what someone else thinks, remember these reasons why it’s not worth your time or energy. Breathe deep and let it go!
First of all, while being a people pleaser is nice, this won’t win you more friends in the end.
Second, don’t worry about what others might be thinking of you. People who run into you don’t care about your appearance or actions so much as they do about their own personal needs and happiness.
Third, you can dress, act, and convince others you have similar tastes but they’re not so likely to get the hints you’re trying to make. If you do, there’s no guarantee they’ll recognize you for this and accept you into their clique.
Fourth, everyone has their own train of thought and therefore is not observing or judging you. Those who don’t know you aren’t likely to criticize you, after all they have nothing to judge you by but your appearance.
And finally, there are times when you must tell people no. Be willing to help when you can, but you must know your own personal limitations. Saying no shouldn’t ruin relationships or prevent you from making friends, but it can save you from stress and fatigue.
So what about you? Do you feel like a people pleaser? Is there anything I failed to mention here? If so, feel free to comment. No spam please.
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