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Why People Pleasing Fails Us: A Path to Genuine Love and Happiness

By Christy Holt

People pleasers are often incredible individuals with generous hearts, striving to make the lives of everyone around them better. Yet, this pattern is a double-edged sword. People pleasing is not just a benign habit; it's a trap of unnecessary suffering. Here’s a deeper look at why this behaviour pattern can be detrimental to creating the experiences you desire and how stepping away from it can significantly enhance the quality of your relationships and your ability to find authentic love and acceptance.

The Intent Behind People Pleasing

Consciously or subconsciously, people pleasing behaviours are aimed at creating or maintaining a certain outcome, typically to fulfill the needs of the pleaser. These individuals genuinely desire the happiness and well-being of others—a noble intent shared by many. However, the pursuit often stems from their need for love, safety, validation, and acceptance. These are normal human desires, yet seeking them through people pleasing is fundamentally flawed because the sought-after outcomes are searched for in the wrong places.

The Pitfalls of Seeking External Validation

People pleasing patterns often arise as a trauma response and may often even be operating without the individual's conscious awareness. You may recognize these subtle patterns based on the disappointment, frustration or resentment felt when the response of others did not meet your expectations. Occasionally, these strategies might seem to "work," helping to ease tension in relationships temporarily. However, the constant search for external approval forces people pleasers to act in ways that are not true to themselves, which leads to sacrificing their own needs and desires.

The Consequences of Inauthenticity

The real problem with not being fully authentic is that all the love, safety, validation, and acceptance sought by people pleasers will remain painfully elusive. Even if (or when) they do find approval, it is quickly undermined by thoughts such as "they don't know the real me." Sometimes this can result in escalated attempts to please, or to relationships where the pleaser is taken advantage of or disrespected. Both reinforce the belief that genuine connection and appreciation are difficult or even unattainable for them.

Embracing the Authentic Self

It can be intimidating to think about showing your true self, especially when such authenticity might lead to conflict or the end of some relationships. I’m not here to sugar-coat this for you because:

Yes, being the real you will upset some people.

Yes, it may lead to challenging conversations.

Yes, it might mean some relationships will end.

However, at the same time it is vital to recognize that:

No, you are not responsible for others' misperceptions nor emotional reactions.

No, not everyone will like you — especially those who are challenged by your boundaries. No, not everyone deserves your time or a close relationship.

The past version of you may very well have let these uncertainties keep you stuck in your patterns and people pleasing behaviours, but that has been keeping you from the love and happiness you truly deserve. It’s time to break free.

The Freedom on the Other Side

By clearing away ineffective habits and unlearning the beliefs and patterns that no longer serve you, you open up space for new relationships and experiences that are truly fulfilling. Embracing your authenticity allows you to contribute positively to the world and feel fantastic doing it!

I promise you, on the other side of the fear of vulnerability, there lies immense freedom — freedom that not only brings peace but also creates the foundation for relationships based on real love and acceptance, rather than superficial approval. You deserve to feel truly seen, heard, loved and accepted, exactly as you are. So this is my invitation to you: Embrace your true self and step into the freedom of authenticity, where real love and deeper connections aren't just possible — they're inevitable.

If you recognized yourself in this post and could benefit from some additional support, please reach out. I have a number of incredible free resources to help you find freedom from people pleasing and create a life and relationships that make you truly happy.


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