Trickle-Down Therapy: People Pleasing Is Dishonest

In ‘trickle down therapy’, I pick a psychology, philosophy or self-help theory that I’ve learnt, listened to or benefitted from and break it down, very briefly, so that you can digest it and then go away and read more on it if you feel like it could help you. This time it’s all about people-pleasing! If you want to continue the cycle of trickle-down therapy, why not pass this on to a friend by sharing it? 

People-Pleasing Is Dishonest

I listened to a podcast recently talking about boundaries, co-dependency and insecure attachments (sounds like a hoot, I know, but I enjoyed it) and one thing that struck a chord with me was about people-pleasing. As someone who can fairly easily morph myself into a completely different person to fit in with other people (true Gemini) and occasionally lose myself entirely in the process, it gave me a really useful way of looking at the act of people-pleasing.

No More Neon Sign
Photo by Luis Villasmil

As a concept, it sounds positive. To please people is surely a good, nay, selfless act? You are actively trying to make people happy, often at the expense of your own happiness. You are doing things you don’t really want to do or acting in ways you don’t want to act or that aren’t natural to you, because you think it is what the recipient wants or expects of you. Society often rewards this behaviour in women. We are ‘good girls’ if we are constantly self-sacrificing and putting others first. Even to the point of burnout.

BUT put simply, every time you do something you don’t want to do or act in a way unnatural to you, purely for the pleasure of someone else, YOU ARE LYING. You are being dishonest. Not only to yourself, but to the person on the receiving end of your gift, action or behaviour. You are presenting yourself in a way that does not truly represent yourself.

You might think that you’re being a good person in always trying to please others, at any cost, but you are actual being dishonest.

I’m sorry if these words hurt you, but they hurt me first.


A reformed people pleaser.


PS. This doesn’t mean that you can do exactly what you want all the time and stop pretending you’re nice if you’re actually not nice at all. But being authentically not nice is better than being inauthentically nice. Capisce?


Read next: Dear Single Mums In Case You Need To Read This

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