Close your eyes and imagine the land of Neverland. Wendy is a girl who takes care of the characters of the story in that fantasy world. She is able to do what Peter Pan does not dare to do, she dares to take risks and responsibilities to please others. However, striving to please is a quality that keeps her always in the background. Open your eyes again; this reminds you of something, right?
It is a metaphor that shows how often we forget ourselves and what we really want, while trying to please others . In this way, it is very common to say yes to requests that are apparently trivial, such as having someone coffee when we don’t feel like it, or more important proposals, such as getting married, studying for a certain profession, or having children.
We choose the path that seems easy in the short term, avoiding conflict and ignoring what we want. We prefer to pay the price instead of arguing or worrying about the stressful days ahead. What we are doing, however, is underestimating the price we have to pay in the long run for giving in.
We are afraid to say no and choose to please, not to be rejected, to fall out of the group, or not to disappoint anyone. But what happens to us?
An irrational belief: I need love and approval
Psychologist Albert Ellis, who invented Rational-Emotive Therapy, talks about eleven common irrational beliefs that diffuse and isolate all other thoughts and emotions that usually live in our heads. They turn the horizon into a dark place and open the door to a feeling of weightless discomfort.
One of the beliefs is this: ‘I need the love and approval of everyone around me’ or ‘I need to be popular and have the approval of all the important people around me’. To some degree, this belief is in almost everyone and this is what drives us to please other people.
It is an irrational belief because being approved by everyone is impossible. If we need others to give us constant approval, we will always worry about whether they accept us or not and how much people love us.
It’s not realistic to think that everyone in the world will like us. On the other hand, if everyone else approves of us, we would have to put in so much effort that we would have to let go of our own needs.
We need to get rid of our excessive need for approval and love. In that regard, it is more appropriate to seek approval for the deeds you do and the behavior you display than for yourself.
Strive to please
A person who likes to please others tends to please or please someone else. In other words, he or she shows a more or less constant tendency to fulfill the desires of others at any cost.
But if a person always meets the demands of others, he does not claim his own position, nor does he defend his own interests. He simply gives in to the preference of others without taking care of himself. Some of the risks that distinguish persons who like to please are the following:
- Perfectionism. Wanting to do things perfectly leads to guilt when things don’t happen as expected, especially when it comes to others. An accommodating person tends to be a perfectionist and does not realize that it is precisely that perfection that causes so much frustration.
- They feel indispensable. A person who constantly wants to please others wants to be indispensable so that the people around him depend on him because that makes him feel respected and loved.
- Love is a sacrifice. They understand that love is a sacrifice and resign themselves to romantic and family relationships that make them uncomfortable and accept this as a normal consequence of the relationship and love for another person.
- Preventing conflicts. Constantly striving to please means avoiding conflict. Therefore, the person avoids arguments, tells others that they are always right and apologizes for everything as long as he is accepted.
- These are people who sacrifice themselves for the happiness of others to the point that they don’t know what really makes them happy, because they always think about what makes someone else happy. They do not express their feelings and are so closed that they end up having no ideas of their own or expressing them.