Friday, September 22, 2023

Can pleasing people be selfish and selfless?

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

This is a response to Why People-Pleasing Is Inherently Selfish.

Pleasing people is a subject that is completely different for everyone, some find it selfless while others find it selfish. Personally, I see it going both ways. If you’re a chronic people pleaser, you know that you put everyone else’s needs before your own. You are constantly thinking about other people, what they are feeling, how a situation will make them feel and what you can do to make them feel better. All while possibly having the same feelings or feeling worse than the other person. Some people think this is selfish, but selfish in the way you ignore your own emotions to help others. It’s selfish for the younger child in you to scream, and you push that child down to help someone else.

While I don’t agree or disagree with the statement that pleasing people is selfish, I do think it makes for a conversation that needs to be had; the conversation about self love. If you struggle with self-love, self-confidence, self-esteem or psychological problems. Then you might have an idea where this conversation is going. If you are generally incapable of harboring good feelings and/or emotions about yourself, you will find that people are having a good time. Due to the fact that you would rather help other people than deal with the problems that arise in your mind and life. You don’t love yourself enough to solve your own problems, but helping other people makes those problems feel smaller and insignificant. Until they get bigger and bigger and bigger and then too big to ignore. This can be conveyed as selfish, because you selfishly ignore your own emotions, feelings, and problems so that you don’t have to deal with them directly. That is why some people please people as selfish.

Now, to play devil’s advocate, let’s look at the other side of the argument. Where pleasing people is a selfless act. Clearly some of the key examples that come to mind are putting someone else before yourself and taking care of their needs. Another is that your problems may seem important to you, but in general they are not so that helping someone whose problems are serious is a selfless act. A good example is that on Christmas Eve my aunt was left wrapping presents for her family’s Christmas, so I volunteered to wrap her presents, knowing it would ease her tensions for the holidays. I thought about what she wanted at that moment, not what I wanted to do. That was drinking wine and hanging around doing nothing, which in turn could be considered a selfless act to please people.

Now that we’ve seen both sides of the argument, let’s get back to my personal take on the matter. That is that it is both a selfless and a selfish act. As someone who is a recovering people pleaser, it helps you and also destroys you. When you think of others like cleaning my mom’s house for her and thinking how much it will mean to my mom to have a clean house. I also suppress my feelings to do what I want to do. Another example is when my parents ask me to do multiple tasks in a day, I clearly can’t tell them no due to the fact that people are having a good time and want to make them happy. I also ignore all the things I wanted to do or achieve today because I do what I am told which leads to bad thoughts mentally.

In conclusion, pleasing people can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. It’s incredible to do things for others, but when it takes over your life, it becomes a problem. If you never try to make others happy and only think about yourself, that becomes a problem too. It’s all about balance; take care of the people you love, but also take care of yourself, because in the end YOU are the one that matters most.


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