Why It Doesn’t Pay to be a People-Pleaser
Christine Carter always tried to meet other people’s expectations
—until she realized how out of sync with her own wants and needs she’d become.
Why It Doesn't Pay to be a People-Pleaser
By Christine Carter
People ask me all the time what the secret to happiness is. “If you had to pick just one thing,” they wonder, “what would be the most important thing for leading a happy life?”
Ten years ago, I would have told you a regular gratitude practice was the most important thing—and while that is still my favorite instanthappiness booster, my answer has changed. I believe the most important thing for happiness is living truthfully. Here’s the specific advice I recently gave my kids:
Live with total integrity. Be transparent, honest, and authentic. Do not ever waiver from this; white lies and false smiles quickly snowball into a life lived out of alignment. It is better to be yourself and risk having people not like you than to suffer the stress and tension that comes from pretending to be someone you’re not, or professing to like something that you don’t. I promise you: Pretending will rob you of joy.I’ve spent the better part of my life as a people-pleaser, trying to meet other people’s expectations, trying to keep everyone happy and liking me. But when we are trying to please others, we are usually out of sync with our own wants and needs. It’s not that it’s bad to be thinking of others. It’s that pleasing others is not the same as helping others.
People pleasing, in my extensive personal experience, is a process of guessing what other people want, or what will make them think favorably of us, and then acting accordingly. It’s an often subtle and usually unconscious attempt at manipulating other people’s perceptions of us. Anytime we pretend to be or feel something that we aren’t, we’re out of integrity with ourselves. And anytime we’re doing something that is more about influencing what others think of us than it is about authentically expressing ourselves—even something as simple as a Facebook post that makes it seem like we are having a better day than we actually are—we end up out of integrity with ourselves. Being out of integrity has pretty serious consequences for our happiness, and for our relationships. Here’s what happens when we aren’t being authentic.