It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”
His sentiments were no doubt echoed through personal experience as the 16th President of the United States of America.
You cannot conceivably please others because it is humanly impossible to do so. One need only listen in on social interactions to overhear people venting their anger at a higher power. Even God, Jesus, Buddha and other deities fall out of our good books when a crisis looms. To be in and out of favour means dropping God from our lives like defriending someone on social media.
How can we possibly please one another?
Psychologists observe people pleasing is a behaviour sewn into childhood. People pleasers grow up in homes where parents are critical of them. To compensate, they grow up to appease their childhood misgivings.
The notion of goodness equates to being liked and accepted, although this comes at the cost of denying one’s personal power. Perhaps you know people like this?
As adults, people pleasers find it difficult to let go of childhood conditioning to please others. They relinquish their authority to gain acceptance.
We all seek acceptance on some level. It is woven into our social fabric to connect with others, albeit without being deprived of our self-worth.
How do you find balance between pleasing others without forsaking your own needs? I hope the following points give you a plan how it is possible.
“In trying to please all, he had pleased none.” — Aesop, Aesop’s Fables
Trust Your Instincts
Pursue that which resonates with your core self, whilst not being troubled by others opinions. This requires practice since you must gain confidence to trust your own judgement. It is acceptable to make mistakes at first so don’t be harsh on yourself. To deprive yourself while subordinating to others is disempowering and may attract little support since you may be seen as weak. Follow your gut instincts and assert yourself when necessary.
When you come from a place of authenticity without an agenda, you are bound to be criticised. This is due to people’s reservations of you. You can be receptive to others’ viewpoints and engage them without being impolite. Form your own judgements so you become accountable for your own decisions. You cannot blame others when life does not work out as planned. Being responsible for your own life is a tenet worth following.
Don’t Supplicate To Others
When you supplicate to others, you risk taking on their pain and making it your own. Let them sort through their own: fears, insecurities and anxieties without getting caught up in the drama. Instead, become accountable for your thoughts, words and actions. When you aim to please others, you take on their problems as well as yours. For example, if you try to please someone narcissistic by nature, you impose that upon yourself to appeal to that side of the person.
Criticism Comes With The Territory
Brené Brown is a social psychologist and author of Daring Greatly. In this wonderful YouTube video titled Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count she recounts a story in which she was criticised in the media following an onstage talk. When you follow your inner wisdom, people will disapprove of you. They will disapprove at any rate, so pursue what is right for you, regardless. Live an authentic life and care less about the opinions of others. Attend to your own needs first and others will look to you as a source of insight. I’ve often said, you coach others’ how you want to be treated.
Stand in Your Own Power
When you please others, you disconnect from your authentic power. You deny your magnificence, talents and skills because you believe pleasing others will give you want you need. People’s judgements of you are based on outward observations. It is easy to judge others while deflecting the real task of dealing with your own inner demons. Don’t fall victim to this.
Recognise What’s Important
People’s values differ, even within the same social circles. You might regard a higher worth on intrinsic values while others place importance on material possessions. This creates separation since another person’s assessment of you is based on differing values. Most people have little understanding of their core needs, let alone know what is right for you. Do not buy into the falsehood that others have your best interest at heart.
Know Your Boundaries
Being assertive yet practical is an empowering quality to uphold. It allows you to set boundaries by not allowing others to walk all over you. Assertive people command attention and respect. I am not encouraging you to be intimidating at the expenses of minimising others. Respond to people’s needs in a compassionate manner, yet do not subjugate nor disparage your self-worth.