'People Pleasers' - Which Way To Go???


Tanya Soin Gaurav
Junior Research Fellow
Banasthali Vidyapith

As a young child grows, he/she wants to please and be good in the eyes of his/her parents. The child's entire world is the two people who produced him/her and is oblivious to the world outside. But this phase is very short-lived. Before one can realize, one is thrown into the big wide world full of different kinds of people who given a chance would not miss a single opportunity to be judgmental. So, very many people who one might or might not know become an integral part of one's mindset.

Man is a social animal. 'People' are a basic need of an individual. When one finds someone with a similar mindset as self, one is happy about being around such a person and vice-versa. It takes a while in fact a lot of time to reach a phase/stage where one doesn't really care of what others think as long as one is logically and ethically convinced of oneself and in a society like ours, majority of people don't even come close to that stage ever. Irrespective of the gender, phase of life, cast, creed or community people are more worried about what others think, feel or say. Getting into other people's mind is also a common practice amongst our kind.

For some, what others think tend to take precedence over one's own thought process. Outsiders surpass one's own family more than often. I would like to emphasize that one might not be doing this on purpose. This type of thinking is in-built in us, the wiring is such. It may be the need to being known and recognized by masses, being popular maybe. So, whether one wants it or not, consciously sub-consciously one ends up becoming a 'people-pleaser'.

What the society demands/expects, what the cultural norms are of a particular place, whether one connects/relates to them or not one inadvertently starts adhering to them. It can be quite challenging to break away from a way of life one has seen his/her elders living. And if one puts his/her foot down, he/she is labeled as a rebel. Not everyone has the courage to live with that now, no matter how much sense one can make of it!

Majority of the people take the most crucial decisions of their lives as 'people-pleasers' not realizing that if something goes wrong, not one person would bear the brunt on anyone's behalf.

Along with all this, these days the term 'Society' is looked upon as something that is ever ready to pull one down with its age-old practices. But that is not the case. Society stands to everybody's benefit. Every single individual who exists forms the society. Having said that man is a social animal and also that man is an animal with brains the society makes boundaries so as to ensure that this animal works productively and uses his gift of brain for the betterment of mankind. As one can see, the society has an important place of its own. Some people stretch this concept too far and use the term 'society' to reinforce those practices which were the 'need of the hour' at a certain point of time but should be done away with considering the change that has come about in people over a passage of time. It is always difficult to come out of one's own comfort zone but the same cannot be generalized. The so called 'guardians of the society' build an image of how things and people should be and use unsaid undefined pressures so as to ensure that people follow these parameters. The question is, "who gives anyone the right to intervene into one's own personal choices and decisions?"

Whether it's the society or religion these concepts were created as per and for the overall convenience of mankind, to maintain order and balance in everybody's life. To balance is the law of nature. The 'it's my life' attitude is fine as long as nobody else is getting affected by it. But, the moment one is associated with another person where one's choices starts affecting the other's well being, there are certain rules and roles one has to adhere to. One is free to form one's own beliefs but values are universal, for e.g. a murder is a crime universally but euthanasia could be legal at many places. So, one needs to choose intelligently.

One must enlighten oneself in a way and to a degree that he/she is able to carry out his/her SWOT analysis and take decisions as per that. It is foolish to have a yardstick for success based on other people's success stories. One can get inspired and motivated, but it is important to remember that everyone has his/her own situations and circumstances. Different things hold importance for different people and the freedom to explore and pursue one's own choice must always be given to one and all.

'People Pleasing' is a concept which can cause a lot of irritation, frustration and unproductivity. Sometimes, no matter how much one puts in, it falls short. In an attempt to make an image in front of someone, one ends up distorting one's own self-concept which does no good to anyone in the long run. Maturity lies in the ability to scan, skip and skim and move in sync with one's own self and a few more who form an integral part of one's everyday and every decision.

'People Pleasing', if taken positively is a skill not very many people can possess or master. When judiciously used, this skill can enhance other skills of an individual. Either extreme doesn't work well but if filtered appropriately and used intelligently, keeping people around oneself pleased can have a very positive impact. What one needs to do is draw a line beyond which anyone else cannot have a say. Clarity and communication can help in the optimum utilization of this skill effectively and efficiently.

I would like to emphasize that this article is my personal viewpoint. No where do I intend to demean any particular gender, belief system or social set-up. This article has been written in an attempt to understand the importance of having a mind of our own and the importance of drawing a line to ensure no one else ends up ruling or living another person's life.

Tanya Soin Gaurav
Junior Research Fellow
Banasthali Vidyapith

Source: E-mail June 20, 2015


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