Stop trying to please others

Posted by on Dec 14, 2012 in Personal Development | 8 comments

I’ve spent most of my life trying to please everyone and my results were less than ideal. I just wanted everyone to be happy, and I wanted people to like me. My efforts to please others did not make other people happy, didn’t make people like me, and I was downright miserable!

Today I heard someone say, “you can’t make people happy and lead them.” These are wise words, indeed, and leaders have their work cut out for them if they try to please people and lead people.

I take it a step further and make the distinction that you can’t make other people happy- period. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. People choose to be happy or they choose to be unhappy. What I do, or don’t do, often has little-to-no effect on the happiness of others or how much they like me.

I’m not suggesting intentional harm has no negative effect on others and the world-  of course it does! I believe in actively seeking to do no harm. I actively seek to do good but I do not try to control other people or their experience. I have no motive other than simply to do good and treat others with respect and kindness but that’s different than trying to make other people happy.

Stop trying to make others happy. Make you happy! Image courtesy of Harold Lloyd

Happiness is an experience

There are some that have suffered greatly at the hands of others and have not lost their happiness, their joy, and their faith. They do not hate those that have harmed them. In these individuals I see happiness is a state of heart and mind.

If I accept that happiness as internal experience, not an external experience, then I can acknowledge that we each get to choose our own adventure! I can’t make someone happy or unhappy. I can affect their external circumstances but I can’t change what’s inside. I can’t change their opinion of me by trying to control their emotional state because I can’t change their emotional state.

Happiness is an inside job

When I focused on pleasing others I was ignoring the one person I can truly make happy- myself! I realized trying to make others happy wasn’t benefiting anyone and turned my attention to me. I took responsibility for my own life, for my own happiness. I can be a person I like instead of trying to get other people to like me.

Just as I am responsible for my own happiness, other people are responsible for their happiness.  In letting their happiness belong to them, and them alone, I honor their quest to live a life that will make them happy, or not, as they choose. I let their opinion of me be their business and go about my life being someone that treats other people kindly, regardless of what they think of me.

Happiness is an individual responsibility

When I accept responsibility for my own happiness, and allow others the same courtesy, I can focus my energy where I can truly make a positive difference! I can live a life I feel good about. I can be the person I want to be. I can be proud of me.

The really awesome thing about doing good for good’s sake is my behavior usually has a positive influence on others. When I do the right thing because it’s the right thing,  people generally like me, and I like me, too. In those situations where another person chooses to be unhappy or dislike me I can let it go- it’s not my responsibility!

Stop trying to please others

I’ve learned I can’t please others, no matter how hard I try. And I’ve learned that pleasing others doesn’t please me!

Try as I might, I can’t make other people like me- especially those people who are suffering in their own lives. Some people won’t like me because they don’t like themselves and that’s not something I can change for them.

Today I invite you to stop trying to please others and please yourself instead. Take responsibility for your happiness and live a life that makes you happy! Do something you can do something about. Be a person you like.

Be happy, be yourself, and do good.

I love your comments! Are you a people-pleaser? What lessons have you learned about trying to please others? How can you make yourself happy today?


  1. Thank you for the tips. People pleasing comes with many side effects and its also a consequence of hidden insecurities and fears. I realized it very late in my life when I started working that I need to be assertive at work and I am afraid to put forward my demand because I feel I will hurt or displease someone if my demand conflicts with theirs.

    It is very exhausting thing to keep reminding yourself to only focus on people and things who are important to you.

    • Thank you for commenting, Aditya!

      I have found people pleasing to limit my enjoyment of life. Recognizing this is a problem and working on it is absolutely exhausting and challenging, but I do believe it will ultimately improve your life. And, really, isn’t people pleasing itself exhausting?

      Have a grateful day!


  2. Hi! Thanks for the tips. Really helped me a lot of people like myself. I have tried hard and harder trying to please others but the results are I am always losing, feeling hurt, ending with nothing for myself as I was more focus giving to others…. I also found out that people are very good at taking and taking and taking but when it comes to giving a little even to those who have helped them through rains and thunderstorm, it’s like as if I am asking them to get me the sun..!!

    I have learned the very hard and hurtful ways, I now do not care for anyone else except my god, my parents and myself. I am building the habit of not changing myself for anyone but for myself, I will never ever sacrifice or compromise with people who in return can’t say out the word sorry or thank you!!

    Changing something that’s I have lived with is hard but possible and regardless of how much I fail and etc, I will not stop until I become a strong and better man and person who is proud of himself.

    I thank god for teaching me this sooner than later! Thank you God.

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Johnny!

      Like you, trying to please others just made me feel overworked, resentful, hurt, etc. Helping others is a good thing but helping others for the sole purpose of trying to please someone else is where I get into trouble! And even still I have to first take care of myself before I can give to others.

      It sounds like you’re on the right track now that you’ve learned to care for yourself, your god, and your family first- good for you!

      Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a grateful day!


    • Thanks for this post I really needed that today.. You just reinforced what I was feeling..

  3. This is really a great step you have taken and I also see that the same thing as you and have not written a blog till now but will write soon!! Pleasing others makes you vulnerable and people try to cheat you now and then! They exploit you as soon as you show that you have a soft corner in their heart!

  4. I`ve always been a people pleaser, which has made me exhausted. It only benefits them, never me. and that`s why I`ve started to put myself first a lot more!

    • Thanks for your insight!

      I agree that being a people pleaser is exhausting. At some point I got tired of being tired and started focusing on me. Hooray for putting yourself first!

      Have a grateful day!


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