Is it Compassion or is it “People-Pleasing”?

Is it Compassion or is it “People-Pleasing”? is it compassion or is it “people-pleasing”?
Photo by Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash

If there is a word that carries a lot of weight when it comes to our relationships with others, it is the word “compassion.” When you’re compassionate, you show deep concern for the suffering of others. You want the best for them, but on a deeper and more authentic level. You are a caring human being who genuinely wishes the best without expecting anything in return. However, there’s also people-pleasing, where the goal is to make others happy and go the extra mile to help them, even at the cost of your own suffering. Deep inside, you may be in pain, but on the surface, you label yourself as compassionate, kind, and caring.

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The actions may appear similar, but the crucial distinction lies in the underlying thoughts and feelings. A compassionate person may comfort a friend, volunteer, perform acts of kindness (and share them on social media), mentor others, engage in charitable acts, help a stranger in need, or even choose to do nothing. Another person who can perform all these acts is a people-pleaser. Thus, it’s not just about the actions, as we can never visibly determine if a person is compassionate or people-pleasing; it’s more about what’s inside. In this article, we will explore the difference between being compassionate and being a people-pleaser, aiming to help you understand some aspects that might hinder your authenticity in life.

Motivation

One of the primary distinctions between compassion and people-pleasing lies in the motivation behind these acts. When driven by genuine compassion, the actions feel lighter, emanating from an authentic desire to contribute positively to others’ well-being. On the other hand, people-pleasers may carry a heavier emotional burden, acting in anticipation of external validation or acknowledgment.

To discern between the two, pay close attention to your internal experience during these “compassionate” acts. True compassion involves doing deeds without expecting excessive validation or seeking glory. You undertake these actions simply because they align with your values, and you have the autonomy to choose whether or not to engage in them.

In the case of a people-pleaser, the motivation behind these actions is rooted in fear. This fear may manifest as a deep-seated concern about rejection or a belief that failing to perform these actions would result in a negative perception from others. For the people-pleaser, the emphasis lies not so much on the inherent goodness of the actions but rather on how they are perceived by other people. The driving force is a desire to be seen in a positive light, overshadowing the genuine intention of simply doing good. In essence, the fear of rejection or the need for external validation takes precedence over the authenticity of the act itself, creating a dynamic where how other people perceive you because of your acts becomes a primary motivator.

In essence, when you’re compassionate, you’re giving from a full cup. On the flip side, when you’re people-pleasing, you’re pouring from an empty cup, hoping that by pleasing others, your own cup will be filled.

Authenticity

When you’re compassionate, it means you’re staying true to who you really are, and deep down, you genuinely want to do the things you do. It’s not about putting on a fake act or trying to impress others; it’s about recognizing within yourself that your actions come from a sincere place. Whether you’re actively doing something kind or just taking a moment to be present, it all reflects your genuine self. The beauty of compassion lies in the fact that you don’t need external praise or approval; you do good things because you have a natural desire to, even if no one is there to pat you on the back. It’s about being authentic and true to your values, making a positive impact just because it feels right to you.

Now, let’s talk about the people-pleaser. This is the person who puts on a facade of being kind and compassionate, convincing not just others but also themselves that they genuinely want to do those good deeds. However, beneath the surface, there’s a reluctance, a deep-seated desire to say ‘no’ when they end up saying ‘yes’ just to maintain a ‘good’ image in the eyes of others. On the exterior, they appear agreeable and accommodating, but internally, there’s a conflict between their true desires and the image they portray. This internal conflict gives rise to resentment, as they end up hurting themselves by concealing their authentic feelings behind the mask of being overly-agreeable. It’s a struggle between what they genuinely want and the persona they project, and the toll it takes is felt deep inside.

Check-in with Yourself

Here’s the thing: you can do all those estimable acts with authenticity once you go inward and resolve the conflict you have or lighten the load you’re carrying. The more you people-please, the further you move away from what you genuinely feel and desire. This is why honesty is a very hard thing to find these days because we’ve been conditioned to ‘do good’ or to practice love, which forces us to live a life that is not in alignment with how we truly feel. As I said in the past, it’s better to acknowledge the resentment you have towards those people you please than to mask it.

When you acknowledge, you’re allowing light to enter; you’re being honest and acknowledging the painful aspects we carry deep within. Healing is all about lightening the emotional baggage we have, and then you will have your choice back. When you’re compassionate, you have a choice; when you’re a people-pleaser, you don’t have much of a choice, or your choices are limited. You ignore yourself when you do good, and you even end up hurting others in return because instead of empowering them to be responsible for themselves, you’re stripping them of that responsibility.

In conclusion, check deep within yourself and really see if you’re first compassionate with yourself or if you’re ignoring the one person you should be compassionate with, which is yourself. Your life is a precious garden; cherish it by watering it before you think about watering your neighbor’s garden.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

References

1. https://www.puckermob.com/lifestyle/6-differences-between-being-a-people-pleaser-and-being-compassionate/

2. https://www.puckermob.com/lifestyle/6-differences-between-being-a-people-pleaser-and-being-compassionate/

3. https://medium.com/change-your-mind/5-differences-between-people-pleasing-and-authentic-kindness-4b50d31a53f2

4. https://www.haileymagee.com/blog/2022/11/2/this-is-the-difference-between-kindness-and-people-pleasing

5. https://www.optimistdaily.com/2022/03/genuine-empathy-or-people-pleasing-heres-how-to-tell-the-difference/

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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