The trap of “… but what will others think”

Many have a desire to live a life where there is harmony and peace, there are no conflicts and everyone loves everyone. I think this is a very understandable desire of anyone, because when the opposite of these becomes real, it can have a big negative impact on the everyday life. Many times, however, I see that individuals want to achieve this desired state by trying to please everyone. They try to meet everyone’s expectations around them.

If someone lives their life by this mechanism, they can probably really be involved in less conflict, they can get more positive feedback about themselves from their environment. After all, they show and do things that other people expect of them. Here, however, the first fundamental problem arises: since everyone wants something different, this particular person has to put a lot of energy into tuning in to other people or figuring out what they would expect from him or her to be like. Already at this stage, he or she wastes a lot of energy unnecessarily without even noticing.


The next step is when this person begins to meet these expectations and wishes. This is the biggest trap. Because every person is different, the „good”, the „right thing”, the „acceptable behaviour” is different for all of them. Mrs. Smith in the neighbourhood has a completely different opinion of a “good man” than our boss, not to mention our parents, our partner and our friends. And this person starts to satisfy everyone. Even if it means things in sharp contrast to each other. Thus, we could actually even say that he or she develops different sub-personalities, which can be used at the right time to show their “best” face to another person. And by doing that, this person gets the very much craved positive feedback from all kinds of people around them.

This can be done for a lifetime of course, just not worth it.

Why not? Because there are great dangers to this “ways of working”. On the one hand, you have to accept that you will never be able to fully satisfy everyone at the same time. Or maybe you will not be able to fully satisfy anyone completely at all. But there is nothing wrong with that. The expectations of others are created and built through their own filter (experiences, emotional injuries). If you try to meet these expectations, you basically want to make up for their problems. Which is already not a good approach, because these other people won’t be able to face their own issues, as they are always avoided this way. And you help them with that by wanting to meet their expectations about you. And where are you in this story anyways?


On the other hand, with this mechanism you are building up incredibly big obstacles and barriers for yourself. The phrase “… but what will others think” fits perfectly here. If this is the only thing on your mind in a decision-making situation, if you take every step of your way based on this, then what is your life about? Because it’s not about you, that’s for sure. In this case, you put your focus completely outward, scanning what X or Y person’s reaction would be if you acted in a certain way. Their reaction. How you would feel yourself by acting that way, how much it would suit you, what you would benefit from the decision, is out of the question in such cases.

And as a result of this whole mechanism, it can happen that you will not know clearly who you really are. As it is always the others who are on your mind, you can lose the connection to yourself.

As much as you want to satisfy others, you ignore yourself to the same extent. You don’t take into account your own needs, your own wills, your own emotions, your own goals. Maybe you don’t even know what they are anymore, as you’ve been living in the world of others for so long.

If you want to change this, the very first step is to accept that there will be people in your life whom you will not be able to please and who will therefore not accept you completely. But you know what? This is their problem, not yours. You can’t influence the opinions of others. What you can influence is how much your own life suits you. Not others. You! And if your decision, your life, your behaviour is not liked by others, they need to think about it. They need to be much more accepting and much less critical of you. You can’t change that for them. But you can do things for yourself.


If you shift your focus back to yourself, you can find (again) the things that make you happy, joyful, content. Even if these certain others don’t like it.

Write down these things and think about it – when was the last time you did something only for yourself? Start small, give it a try. Observe your own reactions and exclude that of the others.

If the above seems to be about you at some extent, then also think about the following: as a child, who did you try to please? Because that will be the zero point. You will have to work deeper with that event, experience. Because he or she was the one who built this program into you. Since any such mechanism must be grasped and dissolved at its root, this is no different here. If you can resolve it, you will find it much easier to see other such situations in your life more clearly too. And as you progress through processing, your life will become much more your own than that of the others. This way you will be able to be really happy, self-aware and easy going. Through this, your self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth will be strengthened. This is the only way to find the way back to your own self.

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