People Pleasing and Approval Seeking

Last Updated: March 29, 2021

And Why It’s NEVER About The Other Person!

People pleasing is rampant as ever. Strange? No, but I know something that is…

Find people pleasing quotes that won’t surprise, a video that sums up my thoughts on approval seeking (see below), and a far-out FACT about people pleasing. Plus, you’ll get this cool image that sums up the whole thing…

… AND further thoughts on the 3 Principles understanding I share here,  a not-so-obvious invitation for you to request a transformative coaching conversation with me (as maybe you’re an approval-seeking addict and NOTHING has worked – hah!). So, let’s begin…


People Pleasing INTRODUCTION: My History of Approval Seeking

Firstly, I’m not going to tell you to stop your approval seeking. People pleasing: you do it, because it makes sense for you to do it. And when it stops making sense you’ll stop doing it. (As with any other affliction or nasty habit you got goin’ on.)

And the same goes for me and my rather unfortuntate tendency to people please:

  • I people pleased the life out of one particular romantic relationship – always doing what she wanted, always trying to be the best boyfriend I could possibly be, never wanting to be like all those other ‘bad’ boyfriends that had gone before me. Needless to say this woman I wanted to be my wife ended the relationship after 2 years together. (Youch! Still didn’t stop the people pleasing, though…)
  • I listened to other people’s wisdom rather than my own for far too long. (In all innocence) they’d tell me what clothes to wear, how to behave, and what music I should like…
  • I craved to be popular – just a little bit – to have more friends, and thus have more fun and feel more normal (to fit in better).

And I still people please, sometimes. Despite me knowing that you never people please you’re always pleasing yourself, I still people please. A little. And that’s okay (or so I keep telling myself, hah!)…


WHY Is People Pleasing So Popular?

Even though no one likes an approval seeker – a toadying approval seeking brown-noser – people pleasing lives on, it thrives. Why is that, do you think?

The short answer is this: (believing your) insecure thinking

And the long, get out your history and psychology books and listen to me cos I’ve got a PhD, answer is this:

  • People pleasing is an (out-of-date) act of survival. Once your life depended on belonging to the herd, on fitting in. Psychologically speaking, this still feels true.
  • People pleasing is how society survives. It’s a form of conformity, of maintaining the status quo, of controlling the masses. By definition, scary anarchy is the very opposite of people pleasing.
  • People pleasing and approval seeking behaviours often go unnoticed by us. We just don’t realise we’re people pleasing half the time, we really don’t.

Back to my short answer.

People pleasing is a great example of the all-pervading Outside- In misunderstanding of the human experience, which is this: you’re living in the feeling of your circumstances not the feeling of your thinking. And this is simply not true. Our feelings come from our thinking, not our circumstances. (See below.)

People pleasing is one of the things that can happen when you let your insecure thinking get the better of you.

People pleasing is an act of self-management (or feeling-management), based on the innocent misunderstanding that some feelings are ‘good’ and some feelings are ‘bad’.

People pleasing is – matter-of-factly, then – YOU-pleasing.

Oh yes it is!

People pleasing is – matter-of-factly – you-pleasing.

(Here are some symptoms of you-pleasing, then, cunningly disguised as people-pleasing: .)



Pleasing Others Quotes

I very carefully picked these approval seeking and people pleasing quotes. And, I very carefully ordered them too. This is the sort of thing that pleases me, even if it doesn’t please you…

People striving for approval from others become phony.
– Ichiro Suzuki

Many people think of perfectionism as striving to be your best, but it is not about self-improvement; it’s about earning approval and acceptance.
– Brene Brown

People who want the most approval get the least and people who need approval the least get the most.
– Wayne Dyer

He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.
– Raymond Hull

There just isn’t any pleasing some people. The trick is to stop trying.
– Robert Mitchum

The art of pleasing is the art of deception.
– Luc de Clapiers

The person who seeks all their applause from outside has their happiness in another’s keeping.
– Claudius Claudianus

A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.
– Mark Twain

The art of pleasing consists in being pleased.
– William Hazlitt

Take a look at that last people pleasing quote again.

How I read it is like this: people pleasing is the ignorant act of pleasing yourself.

Think about that, eh…


People Pleasing CONCLUSION

1. People pleasing is an act of fear

2. You CAN please without people pleasing

3. Truly being yourself is the ultimate act of authentic people pleasing

4. You are never pleasing other people, you are always pleasing yourself (and the feelings inside of you) – this is an example of the Inside Out understanding

5. If you could be happy with ALL the feelings and thoughts that flow through you you would never people please again…


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