Most of us have been told that people pleasing is not something we’re supposed to be doing. We shouldn’t be focused on pleasing the people we associate with, and in making sure they are pleased with us. It is said people pleasers are insincere and afraid to assert their own individuality. While these are reasonable assumptions, they fail to take into account the many conflicting messages from our culture, messages that instruct us to be nice, to conform, to dress, speak and act according to a long list of rules. Parents tell their children to “be nice” and children in turn tell their dolls and their pets to “be nice”. We are to dress in the current fashions, and are not encouraged to question who decides what the current fashions are to be. Someone who decides to dress in whatever fashion was current a hundred years ago will probably not be praised for refusing to be a people pleaser. Neither are people who adopt currently unpopular viewpoints, like socialism or home schooling. Speaking out against injustice frequently sets the speaker against the status quo and those who benefit from it, and they are generally not pleased. It really is true that people pleasing tends to diminish us, and to mute the ideas that might liberate us. But if we find ourselves people pleasing, we need to consider all the outside pressures on us to do just that.
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