If You Try to Please Everyone, You’ll Never Find What You Are Looking For

June 15, 2018

Pleasing everyone, or trying to, has a high cost. One of the reasons you might try to please everyone is because you are afraid of ending up alone, whether you’re surrounded by people or not. We’re really talking about the fear being lonely even when you’re with people. It’s loneliness that exists in spite of its antidote: the company of others.

We know that relationships are essential. We also know that they’re wonderful when they’re high quality and intimate. Think about the fact that most of us like being surrounded by people who have similar values. Given that framework, the worst thing that can happen is to end up in surroundings that we choose out of fear, not out of desire.

Relationships born out of fear

Many relationships are born out of fear. In reality, the most satisfying ones are born from the unconditional desire to be with someone else. Maybe you are afraid of loneliness or boredom, or you need to always have company. These things drive us to accept conditions we would otherwise reject. One of those conditions is if we try to please everyone.

Sometimes, even when you’re in a relationship you want to be in, your fears transform that desire into a necessity.  The moment your assertiveness gives way to fear, a sense of obligation, or guiltyou end up trapped in the relationship. That makes it impossible to enjoy it.

In the context of relationships, there’s no reason to feel like you have to please everyone. The point is to enjoy the relationships that make you happy. This is difficult to achieve when fear is present.

When you try to please everyone.

Think about it. How often have you accepted invitations to things you weren’t interested in doing? How often have you put up with other people’s bad behavior? Think of all the times you’ve tried to please everyone, even at the detriment of your own happiness. Probably many times. Probably too many times.

Behaving in this insecure way just to try to please others comes from the fear of rejection or being alone. That is true even though it causes you harm. Self-confidence and progress never come from fear, only stagnation.

You end up at the same starting point over and over again. Surrounding you are people that you would never have chosen otherwise and who don’t enrich your life.

Confidence is born from assertiveness

If you work on your assertiveness, you will improve the quality of your relationships and you will enjoy them more. You will be able to avoid being with people who won’t take no for an answer, for example. You can make sure that you don’t waste your time on people who don’t show you empathy.

A “no” to one thing can be a “yes” to something else. Sometimes a “no” to a friend’s plan that you don’t like, is a “yes” to other things you are excited about. Sometimes a “no” because you have other things to do, is a way of honoring something else. An “I don’t feel like it” or “I don’t like it when you talk that way” is key to making sure the thing that bothers us doesn’t happen again.

If you set proper boundaries, others will react and reflect on their behavior. Your life will improve too. 

A woman holding a heart over her face.

It is true, however, that improving your assertiveness in relationships won’t make everyone happy. The positive part is that the selection that happens when you are assertive means that you can have deeper and longer-lasting relationships. Getting rid of the pressure to please everyone will make you feel incredibly free. And that’s no matter if you are alone or with other people.

Knowing how to say “no” opens the door to plans that truly excite you, relationships with people who care what you think, and friends who trust you. Knowing how to say “no” or talk about what you don’t like will improve your self-esteem and allow you to make mistakes.

You’ll make a lot of mistakes, and you will also learn a lot of good lessons. It means gaining independence to manage your time and not get caught up in relationships that don’t matter.

Saying “no” always implies a risk. You might encounter unhappy faces at first, but in the long-term it will strengthen your relationships.