the ups and downs of life

You Can’t Please Everyone

I have learned through these years that I certainly can’t please everyone all the time. I can’t please them most of the time. I have learned, though, that I need to try to please myself more. I have to live with myself and my decisions.

Growing up I was taught to try to please people. That’s how my Mama was raised. She wanted to please others. It often made her frustrated and torn. Her reaction to these feelings and mine were quite different. She internalized those feelings and I didn’t. I was loud and angry with mine. Neither of us were happy with these feelings. I think she was partly right. It is good to do well by others and to be helpful and kind. But it is not good to do this to your own detriment. She would do this and sometimes expect me to do so as well. While she was living I would do so, although it was quite grudgingly. As I have gotten older, I have seen the people-pleasing blow up in my face more times than I can count. (And I can count pretty high!)

It finally hit me that Mama’s way wasn’t necessarily right. She had a good heart. And she meant well. But I can’t please everyone all the time. And trying to do so was harming me. It made me feel like a failure. I already felt that way. I didn’t need that to be compounded. It was a relief to finally release myself from the burden of people-pleasing. I don’t go out of my way to be “ugly” to others, but I don’t allow  other’s pleasure to take over every aspect of my life. For people I love I will make exceptions to things, but I won’t let their whims control me.

I think Mama and I both would have been a lot happier had we really understood the saying “you can’t please everyone all the time.” It would have been liberating. It is a much lighter load now that I finally get it. I miss her and talking about things like this.


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6 thoughts on “You Can’t Please Everyone

  1. “You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.” Hmm…am I dating myself here? Probably. But I don’t care. I think you have to live your beliefs…don’t go against what you believe just to please someone else. On the other hand, I do think there are times when we should do the right thing even when the selfish part of us is whining, “I don’t want to.” I think that goes back to your core beliefs…you know what the right thing to do is. I think our mothers were from a generation when women simply didn’t hold themselves in very high esteem and people pleasing was just what women did, it was expected of them. (I don’t think it’s ever been expected of men.) Thank goodness for the rebels!

    • I agree that our mothers were not taught to respect themselves too much and they weren’t taught to really expect much of others. My mother had mixed views of this and some days she wanted me to people-please and other days she didn’t. I think I have finally found a better balance. I still get frustrated with it from time to time. But I have found that I do it much better than I used to.

      • I think I’ve finally found a better way to balance it too…I’m not sure if my mom ever did regret being such a people pleaser…not sure she even thought about being any other way. Kind of sad, if that’s the case.

        • I know my Mama did. It was a battle within herself and sometimes with me. She wanted me to stand up for myself and yet she didn’t want me to. She also wanted me to stand up for her at times and did like when I did. The thing was I was young and hadn’t learned how to do it without being too offensive or argumentative. I thought that if you were saying no and someone didn’t like it that you had to explain yourself. Now I know you don’t. You can just say no.

  2. Good point. I know what you mean. I used to call it the eager-to-please disease. I still catch myself doing it and then kick my own ass time after time when I get burned for it. I’m hoping I can free myself of this as you have !! Good for you ! I do know it does feel good to do for yourself every once in awhile.

    • Thanks. It wasn’t easy. I was kind of indoctrinated with the “acting pretty” thing. I don’t even know if Mama realized she was doing it. But we all do the best we can. 🙂 You can do it!

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