I was raised to make people happy.
If I didn’t consider other people’s feelings, I got in trouble.
I was supposed to say nice things, even if I didn’t mean them. I was supposed to say yes, even if I wanted to say no. I was supposed to serve everyone else before I served myself.
And everyone in the world was going to be watching me to see how I behaved, because no one likes a selfish kid….
That was my upbringing. I hope yours wasn’t the same!
So many of us women were raised to keep the peace, hold our tongues, and settle for making everyone else happy but ourselves.
We weren’t raised to go after our own happiness.
We weren’t even taught that we deserved to be happy in our own right, especially if it meant disappointing other people.
That’s why I find it so difficult to read so much of the advice about how to stop being a people-pleaser.
Is People Pleasing Bad?
There’s this assumption that something is wrong with us for wanting to make other people happy.
We’re “codependent,” or we’re “needy,” or we “base our self-esteem on other people.”
We’re shamed for having cultivated a trait that we needed growing up.
I don’t know about your mother, but my mother wouldn’t have been happy if I’d told her that I was going to be selfish anyway, because I didn’t want to grow up to be a people-pleaser!
So I’m not going to tell you there’s anything wrong about wanting to please other people.
What I am going to do is give you a better way to make other people happy…
By making yourself happy first.
What Really Makes People Happy
Do you even know what makes the people in your life happy?
You probably assume they’re happiest when you do nice things for them.
You remember special occasions, you remember their favorite foods, and you’re always thinking of ways to show them you care.
But here’s a crazy thing…
What makes the people in our life even happier is when we’re happy.
You’re not the only people-pleaser around! There are people in your life right now who would love to do nice things for you.
But every time they try, you act embarrassed, or you try to refuse, or you immediately look for ways to repay the favor so you’re not in their debt.
They just want to do what you do—they want to please you—but you won’t receive their gifts. Why?
Maybe it’s because you’re too entrenched in the role of being the one who’s always giving! You’re not so good at receiving.
What my mother didn’t teach me is that receiving other people’s gifts is a great way of making them happy. When you allow people in, and you gratefully receive what they have to offer, you feel good AND they feel good. Win-win!
But that’s not all…
When you allow other people to make you happy, you feel more balanced.
You can sit back, relax, and enjoy being the center of attention for a change. You feel recharged. Your relationships feel more equal. There’s no resentment that one of you is doing more than the other.
We’re happiest in egalitarian relationships where both parties contribute in their own way.
Research has shown there’s a lot of truth to that old saying, “Happy wife, happy life.”
A wife’s personal happiness influences the happiness of her entire family, from her husband to her children.
The best way to make them happy is not to run around trying to please them, but to commit to your own happiness.
Genuine happiness doesn’t come from giving until you’re dry. It comes from filling yourself up, and giving from that overflow.
So go ahead, make people happy. But do it from a place of being so personally happy and content that you’ve got lots of love to share.
For more tips on how to prioritize your own happiness, check out my book The Pleasure Principle. You’ll learn why your pleasure is so incredibly important for your health, your relationships, and so much more!