Pleasing people through real generosity is a beautiful gift. Showing compassion to others and helping out people in need are part of being human. When does lending a hand to others become an issue?  Pleasing others becomes a problem when your choices, thoughts and actions are based on what other people will think of you. It’s when you wait for others to make a decision for you for acceptance. Saying yes and always being helpful is the norm.

 People pleasing can become just plain stressful and exhausting.

“I just want to be loved,” Michelle said. “I know if I could do everything for my boyfriend he would stay with me.” Michelle was a patient of mine when I worked as an occupational therapist years ago. This example of pleasing others is an extreme situation but Michelle played a victim role in her life. She truly believed that her friends and family would love her more if she did everything for them. Michelle rarely said no to others and lost her identity in the process. She taught me that worrying about what other people think can be harmful physically, mentally and spiritually.

Many folks struggle with chronically pleasing others. For some, pleasing others becomes a pattern where you say to somebody exactly what they want to hear. This problem is above and beyond doing something kind for the next person. This form of self-sacrifice has a payoff. It might be thinking that you are loved, accepted and needed. The message that you may be sending out might be different than you think.

In that process, you sacrifice who you are as a human being.  The bottom line is that it’s none of your business what other people think of you. No amount of approval-seeking from others can fill you up and make you whole. You are a complete person just as you are right now.

Recognize the people pleasing pattern by checking out the intent of your actions. Check and see that always being readily available comes from your heart. Sometimes it’s the niggling tension in your gut that tells you something isn’t right. Listen to your intuition and be clear about your actions.

Approval seeking can become an issue in how you relate to others and yourself. Saying no at the risk of being rejected can be scary. But that kind of self-love is fills your heart. Be comfortable in your skin. Your opinion of yourself is what matters most. For over 25 years in the health care profession, Lisa Birnesser has studied stress relief techniques and have helped hundreds of people reduce stress in their lives. Lisa specializes in stress management coaching by helping people do what matters most every day.


4 thoughts on “People Pleasing: When Does Helping Others Turn into a Problem?”

  1. Lisa,
    This is a fantastic post!
    Everyone has a need to please people, it just seems to vary to the degree it impacts us.
    In marketing I see this habit in action by keeping people doing the same old marketing tactics, even though the effectiveness is no longer there.
    People don’t want to tell people “No”, so they keep using the same marketing budget for the same old stuff.
    It’s a vicious cycle.
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom,

  2. Great article, for me it is hard to say no to people when they ask me for help but I have learned to do it. I think blogging has helped me a lot because I can help many with one blog post, as you already know as a blog owner yourself. This has taken away the feeling bad part which often comes when you have to say no to someone.

    1. Isn’t it amazing how blogging can reach so many people and help them? It is hard to say no sometimes but finding ways to reach thousands of people is such an awesome way to touch people’s lives.

  3. Well said, Lisa. This is important information for people to have. When people spend most of their time pleasing others at the expense of pleasing or doing things for themselves, they arrest their own development. Many people eventually figure out that they are doing this to themselves and make changes to their lives, but unfortunately it often comes late in life, when so much has been missed and cannot be recovered. The best prevention is to have this phenomenon defined, put into words, while people are still young, so that they don't have to re-invent the wheel. Thank you for this article.

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