Do you ever avoid doing things because you’re afraid of being criticized? Do you think a lot about your behavior pondering will think of you if you do that?
If so, here’s an interesting fable:
The man, the boy, and the donkey
A man and his son were once going with their donkey to market. As they were walking along by his side a countryman passed them and said, “You fools, what is a donkey for but to ride upon?”
So the man put the boy on the donkey, and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said, “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”
So the man ordered his boy to get off and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other, “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”
Well, the man didn’t know what to do, but at last, he took his boy up before him on the donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passersby began to jeer and point at them. The man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at.
The men said, “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours — you and your hulking son?”
The man and boy got off and tried to think about what to do. They thought and they thought, until at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them until they came to a bridge, when the donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle, the donkey fell over the bridge, and his forefeet being tied together, he was drowned.
The moral of the story is: You can’t please everyone.
How people try to avoid rejection
To avoid criticism and rejection, some people withdraw. They don’t state their opinions. They go into hiding. They get into a chameleon-lifestyle where they embody whatever they think the people they are interacting with will like.
What’s so bad about people-pleasing?
It’s stressful to constantly worry about what other people think. It’s something that isn’t even in your control. You can’t control what others think of you.
And no matter what you do, some people will dislike what you do. But also some people will always love what you do.
But there’s another side to trying to please everyone: you’re the only person that you aren’t trying to please.
This leads to low self-esteem. You’re sending yourself the message that you and your own values and beliefs are less valuable than those of others.
Not knowing your values and beliefs
If you’re a people pleaser, it can be hard to know what’s your own opinion. You’re so used to adopting other people’s opinions that you often don’t know anymore what your own values and beliefs are.
Ignoring our own needs
It leads to not noticing and respecting your own needs. You don’t set boundaries.
No real connection
When you’re denying yourself in order to people-please, you won’t be able to form deeper connections with others. People sense that you’re not being authentic.
As said, there will always be people who don’t like what you do, even if you’re just sitting at home and not doing anything. So, better be liked and disliked for the things that feel true to you.
Of course, there’s a higher risk of rejection if you go out. But you would pay a high price for hiding and not doing what you want and dream about. And I don’t think it’s worth it.
What kind of life would you rather look back to: having lived your life, following your dreams, standing up for your values and beliefs and deeply connecting with like-minded people? Or a life where you did what everyone else expected from you, but no what really mattered to you?