The Blog

The Biggest Problem With 'People Pleasing' (and Why You Should Stop Immediately)

When we put our "good model citizen" mask on, we often act out of integrity and compromise our true nature -- which is a huge price to pay.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.


Let's face it -- we all want to be wanted, liked... loved even -- by those around us.

On dates.

In job interviews.

When meeting potential new friends.

Our culture teaches us to "tone down the real you" in order to do this, to be highly agreeable and put your "best foot forward." But what this often ends up looking like is forced smiles. Laughing at jokes that we don't find funny. We round our edges and hold back on what we really want to say or express.

But worst of all, when we put our "good model citizen" mask on, we often act out of integrity, and compromise our true nature -- which is a huge price to pay.

One big insight that has hit me like a ton of bricks recently is that this approach really backfires, and has the opposite effect of what we really want.

In other words, even if you win, you still lose.

Why is that?

Say you are naturally an edgy person or have a personality that falls outside of the realm of mainstream "normality," but you tone it down and fit yourself into some socially acceptable facade on your first date or first handshake. What happens?

By hiding those parts of yourself in order to stay safely within the bounds of being "normal," you shoot yourself in the foot.

Here's why:

  1. When you put your true nature on the shelf, you attract those who like that false, repressed version you are presenting.

  • Now you have to (stressfully) keep that false act up as you continue to hangout with them. The second you let down your guard and the "real you" comes forth, it may start to create problems.
  • Worst of all, you won't hit the radars of those who actively seek and would appreciate those very qualities that you are hiding. You miss those who crave your edge. (And yes, there are definitely people out there who would find your true self a breath of fresh air)
  • I know you may be thinking "Oh, but I will reveal my true self once I get to know them better!" But if you look closely, you'll notice that as you progress deeper into your "good little boy or girl mask" relationships, it often becomes quite difficult to reveal the parts you've been hiding. People grow accustomed to your filtered self, and maybe they can't handle -- or won't appreciate -- those parts. So they remain hidden.

    This is the game that the vast majority of people today are playing (and losing). We put up these false fronts in order to please those who wouldn't like our true selves.

    How insane is that?

    This is something I personally struggled with for many years, where I showed up as what I thought was the most "digestible" version of myself to the world, and dealt with the pain of not being able to be myself throughout each day.

    I can tell you today, there is definitely a better way.

    A Better Way: Own and Show Up as Who You Truly Are... Starting from Day 1

    My biggest source of freedom came when I made the decision to simply own my true nature, and to begin expressing myself openly and freely to the world with zero apologies. Having lived this way for the past few years now, I can tell you it's so good -- just the simple deliciousness of being myself all day long -- that I could never go back.

    Rather than polishing up some BS persona, show up in the world as your most natural self when you are most at ease. Express what is alive in you with zero apologies, rather than constantly filter what comes out of your mouth. Deliver from a place of love, but deliver it straight and honestly.

    Own who you really are, and know that there are countless people out there who are craving that real you.

    Have the courage to do this from Day 1, and encourage those who aren't interested in your unique form of expression to leave. This creates room for those who welcome and appreciate your true self. (This is especially important if you are one of those who fall outside the mainstream view of "normal.") Embrace your weirdness, and know that there are definitely those out there who crave your unique qualities.

    This approach yields the best results anyways. If you look back in your past, you'll see this is exactly how you attracted your best, closest friendships and relationships in your life: You showed up as you truly were, and these were the qualities they loved and enjoyed most about you.

    The Amazing Benefit of Simply Being Yourself

    As you shift more and more into this mindset the benefit becomes immense: you get to show up in the world as your true self each day and attract those who love and appreciate those parts of you.

    ... Which so much better than the "normal" approach of killing yourself trying to constantly put on an act for people who don't even appreciate your true colors.

    I encourage you to give it a try, starting today.