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- Jonathan Lockwood Huie (jlh @sail7.com)

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Monday, March 19, 2012

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Needing To Feel Needed

Question: Dear Mr. Huie, It gets harder everyday to be strong yet unemotional. I would help anyone, but it is hard when no one listens to me. I feel so alone sometimes. I need to feel better about myself on my own. A special person in my life told me, "If you can't love yourself, you won't be able to love anyone else." But, I want to keep my loved ones happy and sometimes I get so deep into helping them by saying "I will do it for you. Don't worry. I'm there for you. I will help you." Sometimes I just want to give up, because I feel I'm talking to myself and I get very depressed and feel like no one needs me. Please point me in the right direction. Thank you.

Answer:

There is sometimes a very fine line between being of service to other people and being a "people pleaser." Being of service is about making other people's lives better, while being a "people pleaser" is about one's own need to feel appreciated. Often the actions we take contain elements of both - we truly do want to benefit the other, and we also want them to appreciate us.

When one does something purely from the motivation of being of service, one doesn't care whether the recipient even knows who did it. Think for example of the virtually anonymous service of volunteering to wash dishes behind the scenes at a soup kitchen.

In contrast, the motivation for being a "people pleaser" is seeking recognition from someone - or, far more harmful to one's self-esteem, fearing that saying No to someone's request might cause that person to distance themself.

There is great wisdom in the idea that you need to truly love yourself before you can successfully love someone else. Until you are filled with love, you don't have any love to give to anyone else. Also, until you yourself are happy, you really don't have any happiness to share with others. The greatest gift you can give to those you care about is sharing your own joy with them.

I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone.
- Bill Cosby


A "No" uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a
"Yes" merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.
- Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi


Further reading: More about Pleasing Everyone

Aesops Fable: The Miller, His Son, and the Ass

How to Choose Your Life Purpose

Five Questions to Ask Yourself When You Feel Sad for No Apparent Reason

Quotes about Being Needy

Life Purpose Quotes

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Who wrote this comment? Please let him know that he isn't alone. It's hard to get out of the rut. We were so use to doing for others, that we forgot about ourselves. Now that it is time for us to think about ourselves, we want others to think about us!!! It doesn't work that way!! It hurts, however slowly learning to do one thing a day, just for me, is making me really happy. Now I just do for others when I'm asked for help, or when I feel that it is genuinely done for the other's interest and not my own "getting a pat on the back." Good luck. It is taking me a long time to learn to do this. Thank you for sharing.

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