Why do we please others?

I wonder how many of us with one condition or another, have spent our entire lives pleasing family and friends just so that we will fit in, be accepted, be nurtured, loved, understood and cared for?

It was something I did constantly. There were two parts of me growing up. One part of me was angry and that surfaced many times, I was constantly to blame for everything when things went wrong and I happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The other side of me wanted to please. I would constantly go out of my way to please, which I did for most of my adult life, until my middle 20’s. I learned a lot in those years. I learned that I didn’t need to say ‘Yes’ all the time, because that always comes at a price.

I also learned that others should be accepting, regardless of what we deal with and if that doesn’t happen, then it’s okay for us to walk away. That we cannot always change others, they have to want to do that for themselves. My experiences have allowed me to make better choices.

20 Jun, 2010

15 thoughts on “Why do we please others?

  1. You really captured the duality in my persona for so many years. I eventually found that I could not change my family and then internalized all of the pain of abuse and put the guilt upon myself, which led to self abuse in the form of risky behaviors and alcohol and drug abuse. I have been coming out of the self-inflicted abuse but never really had a grasp on why I did it to begin with. Today is a new day for me. It’s all so clear. I am the victim and the victim doesn’t deserve the punishment, it’s a revelation to me. This is going to help me more than anything else has. I feel my life is going to go in a new direction, a direction of self nurturing. I thank you very much………. Love, Brian

    1. I am so pleased Brian that you can see what it is that you deserved to see all those years ago. I hope you will now have peace. I am here for you.

  2. I think it goes back to trying to be liked and wanting to be accepted by as many people as possible. I know my mother would bend over backwards to be accepted and liked. She always put other people first before herself. But that was the way my mother was. She never liked to fight and would avoid it at all cost. My brother is the same way.

    1. I understand that completely. My mother did it the same way. She always tried to please but it was never reciprocated. It eventually made her even more insecure.

  3. I can say I did the same thing. I also did the same thing in my first marriage and I walked away from that because I didn’t want my daughter growing up in a dysfunctional situation. My ex and I stayed good friends until he died of suicide. And I seem to be trying to please my spouse now and don’t get anything in return. Its like we’re siblings at times. He doesn’t do anything to help me at all and I’m the one that’s carrying all the physical problems and should be taken care of and he does nothing to care for me. I don’t want to walk away from this marriage cause we are really good together, he just doesn’t understand what’s involved and he really should and I love him very much.

    1. I understand Lisa. Being in a relationship that works for you should mean that you don’t always have to please. I tried to please for many years until I realized I needed to please myself, I was trying too hard to work the relationship. Trying to please others only causes more conflict in yourself. If the relationship is right you won’t always have to work at making it work. Being there for each other and helping one another should be the most natural thing in the world and should be a team effort.

    2. So sorry to hear of your ex’s suicide. That must have been rough on your daughter. Glad you have found a relationship that works. That is all everyone is looking for. To be happy & loved.

  4. I’m the same. Growing up I always wanted to be accepted as an equal but never was. I tried to conform to what other people wanted me to be, so much so I lost who I was as a person. I resolved to the fact that I must be who I AM. Now it doesn’t really matter to me if someone doesn’t like me, I’m not going to bend over backwards to change just for them.

    1. Bill, I agree with you. It’s hard enough trying to work on acceptance of yourself. Not being accepted by others will make that task even harder.

  5. I think you are right, we please others so that we are accepted. It is more fun being accepted than not being accepted and ridiculed. I am a pleaser, as a nurse I tried to please my patients with what little I could because they had so little in their life that pleased them that I thought why not give them a treat and make them happy. This was the one time in life that I pleased people with nothing in return but a selfless act of kindness. And you know what it really felt good to see the smile on their faces.

    1. We do please others just so that we will be accepted, and that is the way I used to do it. Not any more, that didn’t work for me. I just became a door mat for others to walk over. I please myself now.

  6. I agree that most of my life was like this too, but i was very fortunate to have a caring family. So why did I still feel this way? I think I am similar in my thoughts as Randy?

    Today I do try to be myself but it can be a challenge as I absolutely hate confrontation… just me really, still do. I now somehow feel people’s pain, think that’s why I became a chaplain. Instead of pleasing everyone, I now try to listen more, putting myself in other people’s shoes. Maybe I am becoming a little wiser?

    1. Mike, I think Randy’s thoughts are not dissimilar to thousands of us who share the same conditions, or even different ones. We look for acceptance because we don’t feel we are accepted, because society makes us feel like that. We have to work at being accepted, belonging to, being a part of something.

      As for confrontation I think you do okay! I think us having cerebral palsy allows us to see other people’s pain because we live with pain in our own lives. That side of us taps into other people’s suffering. I believe we have a gift, not everyone can see it.

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