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Friday, March 18, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Pleasing

Wanting to make people happy is a wonderful thing when done for the right reasons. It's a wonderful heart that wants to bring joy to others. But sometimes wanting to make everyone happy, can really only guarantee that everyone will be unhappy especially the person who's trying to make others happy. I know many people are what we call 'people pleasers' they aren't exactly trying to make people happy because it brings them joy, they're trying to make people happy because they believe it will keep the peace. The usual thing you hear is 'I don't want to make anyone mad' from them. Really in all human nature, you can't make everyone happy even if you have a happy group on one side, someone on the other is bound to be unhappy. I've always wondered why people do this, what is it that would make a person go so far as to try to please everyone and end up unhappy themselves. Don't they cherish their own happiness? Don't they know they deserve to be happy? There are a couple of different types of pleasers that I've noticed, the 'I don't want anyone mad' pleaser, the 'it's just easier this way' pleaser and the infamous martyr pleaser (I see many women with kids do this one).

The 'I don't want to make anyone mad' pleaser is just a person that is scare of displeasing anyone, they're scared no one will like them if they don't please them. They may also be afraid of letting people down, if they don't please them. This happens in all kinds of relationships, marriages, and friendships and I'm not always positive that the people they are trying to please know what's going on with them. Most people may just think they have a nice friend, husband, wife, son or daughter but really their pleasing is out of fear. I don't think the folks that care about them are always trying to make them please them but I think that those folks just like it because this person goes out of their way to make them happy and do what they want. They're so eager to please so really without actually knowing it they may be encouraging this behavior, most of us are apt to take what's given. Sometimes the folks know this person is a pushover so they just take advantage of the situation. Those people make me mad because they're users and they're hurting the pleaser. If you know someone who displays any of this, you may want to ask them are they just doing things so you won't be mad? I think it's important to know where people are coming from. If every time I ask someone to do something they immediately hop to it, I may be inadvertently making someone's life more difficult and causing undue pressure on them and I certainly don't want that.

The 'this is just easier' pleaser is just a bit lazy. They're less of a pleaser and more of person that may want people to just not complain, not keep asking, so they just do it to get you off of their back. I know some folks like this and this is certainly a product of pressure. I'd advise anyone who is knows someone like this to watch themselves, because when this person finally gets enough of this that scene is not going to be pretty.

The martyr pleaser I've typically seen in women, especially those with kids. But I also think that men can take on the martyr role too. Their are two kinds of martyrs that I've noticed the one that does pleasing out of obligation and guilt and the other that does it out of blackmail. Those folks who are martyrs out of obligation may feel that their lives have no meaning if they aren't trying to please everyone, if they aren't trying to be perfect at everything they do. It may be that they believe no one will love them or people won't think they are good people if they aren't always available for everyone's issues but their own. They can end up being used grossly by everyone around them and it's sometimes sad when I see these things happening. I'm no therapist and I don't know how to help people out of these issues but I certainly don't want to participate in them. Then there's the blackmailer, the person that says yes and does everything to please people so they make people feel guilty and hold those things they've done over people's heads. I avoid these people at all costs because they are pleasers and users and that's a bad combination.

I believe that most pleasers are just trying to do what they believe will make people happy while sacrificing their own happiness. I must say I never suffered from this and in my old age, I've just completely given up trying to make anyone happy. If you can't please yourself, it's not my job to please you. I don't make it a point to upset people but I don't make it a point to sacrifice myself for others either. My happiness and joy comes first and then if I'm happy you should be happy, kind of like trickle down. If you're not happy, my thought is that you've got some things to think about and maybe issues to solve. I can certainly direct people to folks that can help but I'm not obligating myself to everyone with a problem so things we must overcome on our own even with support. I think one of the downsides that come out of being a people pleaser is that some people will build up resentment and anger towards those who they are trying to please especially when it seems no matter what they do, those folks still aren't happy with it. Those are some dangerous emotions and I'd advise any pleaser to stop and make yourself the priority if you're dealing with that. Those two things can kill you, literally. I don't want to be smiling on the outside while crying on the inside. I want my outside and inside to match. One of the first steps to quelling some of the need to people please is establishing 'boundaries' when I say this I mean personal boundaries. It astonishes me how many people don't have boundaries with family and friends. I have boundaries with all my family and friends and you know what, it makes for much happier and healthier relationships. There is a wonderful book called Boundaries: When to Yes and When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, it can help anyone who's having a hard time or doesn't know how to set boundaries with people. This means setting boundaries with spouses, kids, in laws, mothers, fathers, friends, co-workers or anyone. Most folks who don't know how to set boundaries do have an out of control life because every other person they know is controlling them. There is such a thing as the 'Gift of No' and it's a gift to used and treasured. You're not as beholden to people as you may think. I know this post isn't for everyone but there may be someone who feels like they're life is spinning out of control because they won't establish boundaries. It's been said that good fences make good neighbors, I believe the same is true when it comes to personal relationships. No one can possibly please everyone, it's totally impossible so why drive yourself nuts trying to do it. Sit down, take a breather, and find ways to please yourself and be ready not to explain why you're doing it to other people. It's your life take this quote from Benjamin Disraeli, Statesman 'Never complain and never explain.'

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