What is wrong with wanting to please others? Wanting to please others is not necessarily bad, however, it is a completely different thing to need the approval of others for everything we do.
Seeking approval from others only becomes a real problem when we start to feel like it is an addiction, like approval is what maintains us. When we count on the support of others we become dependent on those other people. This can cause our self-esteem and self-confidence to diminish.
Another problem we may encounter with an addiction to approval is that is can leave us vulnerable to being manipulated by others. When other people discover that we are anxious to please them, they take advantage. They know they can get what they want from us, since we take on the responsibility of making them happy and keeping them satisfied.
With time, people that constantly seek approval of others enter into a vicious cycle that is very difficult to break. Not only because they come to rely on other people to validate their decisions, but also because others pressure them, knowing that the approval-seekers depend on outside opinion. The following tips will be very useful for overcoming this addiction, gaining confidence and certainty, and beginning to make decisions more confidently.
1. Say what you think
It is not always easy to say what you think. And although there are times in which it is wise to stay quiet, there are other times in which you must say what you truly believe. However, this is something that must be practiced. Start talking to yourself, recognizing your thoughts out loud, and recognizing your own opinions even if they are not the same as what other people may think.
Practice ways in which you can say what you think without offending others, but while respecting yourself, your ideology, and your personal aspirations. Don’t let the desire to please others create an obligation to think of their opinion before your own. Doing this can lead to thought patterns that go against who you truly are.
You can please others without betraying yourself. By not thinking and saying what you truly believe, you are giving others power over you.
2. Please yourself
The addiction to approval from others implies being constantly worried that other people are forming a negative opinion of you. This can make you feel vulnerable and like a victim of the whims of others, depending on whether or not they are happy with you. This can affect your ability to have fun, to be creative, to be kind, and to be spontaneous in life.
Every now and then, you also have to remember yourself, please yourself, and feel proud of yourself. Even though you might not receive approval from everybody for every single one of your dreams and aspirations. This does not mean being selfish, but rather the opposite. By being satisfied with yourself and feeling good about yourself, you can be much more helpful for others. This is because you are able to be happier, more motivated, and feel useful.
3. Remember, no matter what you do, you will always disappoint someone
Seeking approval is often an attempt to gain and maintain a sense of control. You believe that if you can make other people “happy” by being what you think they want you to be, then you won’t be rejected or abandoned.
However, you cannot control the thoughts of others nor can you please everyone. No matter what you do, there will always be someone who disapproves or does not understand your decision. Nobody has a secret formula for how to please every single person in the world; people will always prefer things a certain way.
4. Be yourself and concentrate on what is right
Group mentality can force you to do what you think you have to do, but that is not always the right or best thing to do. In order to avoid going against mainstream ideas, it can be easier to choose whatever it is that will satisfy the “pack”, even if what they are doing seems wrong or confusing.
When this happens, you may enter a kind of dynamic that alienates you from others. You lose your personality and your ability to make decisions. Distance yourself from this. Concentrate on what you consider to be right. Analyze your philosophies and goals, and always be yourself. If you don’t like something, or you don’t like certain people, why do you try to please them? What good does it bring you to be part of something like that?
5. Don’t assume that others will judge you
Those people who are so caught up in their addiction to approval think it inevitable that they will be labeled as one extreme or another. However, the majority of people do not make decisions nor judge others so easily. Most people do not make extreme judgements simply because they do not approve or understand another person’s way of life, or because that person is not aligned with the majority of the group.
Even when people force you to speak your opinion, the fact that you do what you think to be right does not mean you will be labeled negatively nor that others will like you any less. Contrary to what it may seem, being yourself is the best way to earn respect from others. If they end up labeling you, at least you will fall into a category where you actually and honestly belong.