06/05/2012 08:32 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

People Pleasing: Not So Much A Pleasure

I have spent the better part of my life worried about what other people think.

Am I too silly, too serious, too negative, too positive, too chubby? (Ahhh, but never too skinny.) Do I laugh too loud, do I not laugh enough? Do others think I am smart? Do they think I'm funny? Am I rude? Do I hug too much or am I cold and aloof?

The thing about living the life of a people pleaser... no one is ever pleased.

Not for long.

There is always more performing and pleasing to be done because everyone has their very own unique filter they see life through.

My smile to one person is received as warmth; to another it is a jab to the soul after a recent death in the family.... My hearty laugh is rude to one, while it is a welcome distraction to another.

This people pleasing... it's exhausting.

Being a "pleaser" means I spend a great deal of effort trying not to step on cracks and toes. So much of a pleaser's energy is spent on trying, we miss out on just BEING.

We miss out on BECOMING.

As the years pass, I find I care less and less about pleasing others. I don't believe life is about making me happy, but neither is it about making sure everyone else is happy.

Life is about....

Life is about....


I should probably figure that one out.

In my spotty yet growing efforts in breaking free of this "pleasing"... in my newfound desire to live life without worrying whether someone thinks I'm a dork or not... I have realized a few things.

I am no scientist. I have tracked no data. But... in my experience I find MOST people want to feel free to be.

To laugh. LOUD.

To smile. BIG. And often.

To wear body glitter during the day and white after Labor Day.

To feel the freedom to say "Hi" to someone just because it's nice to do and it feels nice to be nice.

Perhaps we hold back because someone (or many) in our past criticized us.

Made fun of us.

Little pieces of joy are stolen in those moments. Our spark isn't usually snuffed out all at once.

One look here. One comment there. Here. There.

Snuff. Snuff....

Isn't it amazing that despite the thousands of times we've been encouraged... we give the most weight to the hurts and naysayers of our past?

As a result, we don't tell the joke. Or start writing the book. Or sign up for the class. Or buy running shoes. Or get out on the dance floor. Or stand on the bow of a ferry and channel one's inner, former cheerleader.


Or maybe we do!

Or we should start.


To boil it down... the people we worry about, the ones we are bouncing from one end of the spectrum to the other in order to please -- THEY ARE JUST LIKE US.

Worried. Afraid.

Snuffed out.

And from what my non-scientific data has shown me... these people want to feel the freedom to be silly, the freedom to be daring, and they may even want to (despite poor form) jump on the bow of a ferry and catch the wind in their hair too.

Or maybe they just want to channel their inner child and wear pepperoni on their face.


Me? I won't judge. I'll be wearing body glitter at the grocery store, white after Labor Day and flip flops when it's raining.

For more by Jenny Ingram, click here.

For more on becoming fearless, click here.