You Can’t Make Everyone Happy
Stop being a people pleaser
by Joanne Troppello
I used to be a people pleaser.
Things changed 17 years ago when I was engaged and conflicts in our family brought to light my intense struggle with needing to please people—and avoid conflict.
“I finally know the difference between pleasing and loving, obeying and respecting. It has taken me so many years to be okay with being different, and with being alive, this intense.” — Eve Ensler, I am an Emotional Creature
I have felt the same way, that it took me years to realize I am who I am and don’t have to jump through hoops just to please people.
During my engagement year, my friend gave me the book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by John Townsend and Henry Cloud. I had felt like my life was out of control. I need to always be in control, so that was difficult. I learned through reading this book that I can’t control life no matter how hard I tried.
I went through extreme changes and emotional growth. I learned what it meant to be an emotionally intelligent adult. Since that year, I’ve experienced more growth—but that engagement year was the catalyst for change.
From a caterpillar to a butterfly
“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
Dealing with conflicting wants from my family and my husband’s family for our wedding—and trying to resolve conflicts—showed me that my self-esteem was very low, and I felt like I had to please everyone.
It was exhausting.
It was emotionally draining.
I was worn out.
Reading the book on boundaries that my friend gave me opened my eyes to realize that it was okay to say no. I didn’t have to say yes to everything and comply with what other people wanted even when I didn’t want to do it.
Growing in relationships
“People pleasing does make it easier to ignore the red flags of abusive relationships at the very early stages especially with covert manipulators. We can also become conditioned to continually ‘please’ if we’re used to walking on eggshells around our abuser.” — Shahida Arabi
I learned how to say no and not feel guilty about it.
In the past, I had been sent on guilt trips by family members if I didn’t do something they wanted me to do.
I allowed them to have control over me. People can’t control you unless you allow them to. I allowed that in my life for far too long.
Maybe it was because I grew up in a dysfunctional family with a father who drank too much and brought needless tension and heated arguments into our home. Then my parents got divorced when I was fourteen.
Own who you are
“It's okay to consider the feelings and thoughts of people who matter to us. But we should also understand that we cannot please everyone at the same time. Do what's best for you! Do what gives you peace, a clear conscience, and makes you happy.” - Izey Victoria Odiase
That’s exactly what I needed to learn.
That I should consider how people felt and thought, but I don’t have to please people. I need to own who I am and do what’s right for me.
Consider the following ways to set boundaries in your relationships:
Own Your Feelings: Your feelings are real. Don’t stuff them down. When you feel something, acknowledge it and listen to what your emotions are telling you.
Lines Crossed: Identify what boundary lines family, friends, or other individuals have crossed and how that made you feel—and why it was wrong.
Action Plan: Figure out what your action plan is and how you are going to express your feelings in a positive way by responding rather than reacting.
Stay Firm: Make a firm resolve to follow through on your action plan and not be deterred no matter how the person responds or reacts to you.
Be Prepared: This will not be easy. People may push back and resent how you are taking a stand—especially if they have been putting guilt trips on you.
Believe me, it was a struggle for me to make this transformation to an emotionally intelligent woman who is confident in being able to say no when necessary regardless of any guilt trips people were trying to send me on.
You can make changes
You can’t please everyone, so stop trying to be a people pleaser. It’s possible. Don’t give up on striving to become more emotionally intelligent each day.
Previously published in Medium.
About the Author
Joanne Troppello is an author, writer, and poet. She is the publisher of the online Christian lifestyle magazine, Mustard Seed Sentinel.