white daisy flowers

The need to please

 Don’t be afraid to lose people. Be afraid of losing yourself by trying to please everyone around you.


When I read that quote I recognise how difficult that is, to not be afraid to lose people, to not want to please people. It is natural and understandable that we look to assess the impact of our behaviour on others, to be liked, to fit in and be accepted. But issues can arise when we become dependent on others approval or we seek to please everyone. We basically become like liquid, fitting the shape of whoever we are around in order for them to accept us. 

Seeking your self worth externally is exhausting and is indicative that we don’t value ourselves. If we felt worthy and liked internally then we wouldn’t be seeking it externally. This suggests that the work lies with us to try and reach a place of self acceptance and self love. 

The need to please often goes back to our childhood and the messages that we received about our inherent worthiness. We may have felt a strong need to be approved of in order to avoid rejection or abandonment. We then carry this belief through into adulthood. It is important to see that this behaviour is often being driven by that child part of ourselves which is still so desperate to avoid abandonment, criticism or rejection. 

We may fail to speak up for ourselves, to say what’s on our mind. We may never say no – saying yes may have become a habit. If you think about saying no to someone, your mind may come up with a sequence of ingrained fears that they will reject you, be angry, humiliate you. These things may have happened when you were younger, or at least a fear of them happening. But as an adult, can we start to challenge some of these fears? 

Someone showing anger, disagreeing with us or rejecting us can lead to discomfort. Can we learn to accept potential discomfort, rather than avoid it and not risk being heard? How someone responds to you voicing your thoughts, your opinions and beliefs is often a much greater reflection of who they are rather than who you are. People may actually respect you more, those that don’t may leave your life – but is that such a bad thing if they can’t respect the real you anyway?

Find your voice and start to let it out…

We all know people who don’t seem to mind what others think of them, they don’t feel the need to please. Think about what you admire in other people who don’t rate as highly on the ‘need to please’ scale, do they go out and be themselves carving out the life they want? People are often drawn to others who are authentic, it can be contagious. 

Allowing people to treat you a certain way is you setting the rules for their behaviour towards you. If you allow them to dismiss your voice, they may continue to do this. But doesn’t your voice matter? 

There are lots of things we can do to help improve our self worth. Cultivating self care and self compassion help us to build up that relationship with ourselves, we get to know ourselves and like who we are. Accepting where you are and who you are in life right now, flaws and all, is a great act of self compassion. 

The word ‘no’ can feel like a difficult word to use. Practice saying no. Say no to just one person… what does that feel like? Practice saying things like ‘I have a different opinion’ or ‘no, I can’t help you with that’. By testing this out we can lessen the fear of asserting our rights. 

When someone asks something of you, how about allowing yourself some time to think about whether it is something you can, or want, to do. Stating that you will get back to them, rather than a hurried automatic response, means you are giving yourself the space and time to develop a response that feels right. 

We all have the ability to cultivate self compassion and respect ourselves. Growing this from the inside out gives us a sense of strength and empowerment.

“If you find yourself craving approval, you are low on self-love. Stop grasping for a few scraps wherever you can. Go home and make yourself a feast. Love yourself deeply today.”

Vironika Tugaleva