If you're still confused between kindness and people pleasing, and wondering how to choose kindness over people pleasing, then this post will help you to understand why and how both are different in nature!
"Kindness is the attitude I was born with, and people-pleasing is the attitude I had to adapt to belong, to be loved, to be accepted, and to be seen in this society." ~Epsita- The Positive Window
People pleasing is often characterized by a lack of trust. Just because we don't trust ourselves, we feel we're not good enough to be liked and accepted as we are; and we pick up habits like pleasing others to earn their validation. We put everyone else before us. We always worry how everyone will think about us, if we say no! Do I sound familiar?
I was there once, and I know how unhealthy people pleasing habit can be? I was suffering internally, but I kept going keeping everyone happy by saying "yes." I used to sacrifice my time, health, and happiness only to keep everyone happy and satisfied.
When you overcommit yourself to be there for everyone else, and not yourself, it is very likely to start feeling anxious, depressed, and upset. These are the danger signals of being "too nice." But you may argue that kindness also encourages us to be nice to everyone, irrespective of their behaviors- good or bad! I will come to that part later in this post. First let me tell me how people pleasing looks like, and what can be done to stop this habit once and for all.
The only way to come out of this habit is to be more aware of your inner world.
Once I was able to give all my focus to myself, I discovered that I no longer need people to fill my needs for self-esteem. I also stopped tending to people's demands of seeing me as they wanted me to be. I stopped spending time with people, or tending to their phone calls- just to feel seen or included. I am enough. I am equally important and worthy of love and respect. Therefore rather than saying "yes" to others, I learned to say yes to myself.
I keep reminding myself that, "I'm doing the best I can, and being the best I can everyday. I am in charge. I treat myself with love, respect, and dignity. I'm worthy. I am not dependent on people to feel good about myself."
Now let's talk about kindness. Kindness is a 'happy feeling.' We feel abundant joy and satisfaction when we are kind and/or do any random acts of kindness for others. It will not only make the person feel good, but also gives us a happiness lift too! One kind act intentionally or not can create thousand spontaneous acts of kindness in the world. Keep this ripple effect going and growing bigger and bigger.
"Don't trade your authenticity for approval." ~Unknown
Being kind to others also means you are being kind to yourself too! Being nice to others genuinely, actually even makes me happier.
Initially when I didn't learn much about myself, I misunderstood my natural way of treating people with kindness for being weak and not-confident. I kept going and started doing everything to keep others happy. But sometimes we may force ourselves to act kindly because we want to act nice to others out of our perceived identity, or out of moral obligations. And many don't like and or enjoy being "nice" all the time! I understand....What if somebody is naturally kind and nice to us? How would you differentiate and respect someone being kind to you all-the-time! Is it even possible?
Therefore, it is very important to understand the difference between people pleasing and kindness. Here are 5 ways to know how kindness is better than people pleasing.
- Kind actions create the feel-good effect
Any random act of kindness produces or releases the "love hormone," called the oxytocin that helps us form social bonds based on trust. Research has shown us that any acts of kindness improves our self-esteem, empathy, compassion, and definitely helps in improving our moods. When you perform one random act of kindness, you will not only reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, but your body is flooded with happy hormones, that helps you and the person you've helped [with your kind words or act] feeling more calm, happy, and healthy.
Whereas people pleasing has always been associated with unhealthy habits that creates more stress and anxiety in us. When you try to please people, you're just forcing yourself to keep others happy, so that they can like you, and you can be around them. People pleasing means giving of ourselves to put others first. When you force yourself to do something not out of your willingness, that will never create the feel-good effect.
2. Honesty is a great trait of kindness unlike people pleasing
When we people-please we do not say and do things that we like, we do it for others, what others like. We try to hide that we are hurt by other's actions and words. And that is not-being-honest. We try doing everything we can that can please others to like us, and to not see the real us.
By being honest how you felt, you build better relationships that thrives on trust and being real. When we're being honest in our relationships, we give others the true representation of who we are. We can make it clear what we will do, and what we don't want to do.
3. Kind people are always in symphony with themselves
That means people who are naturally kind, they seem to be in sync with how they feel outside vs how they feel inside. They know that the secret to be in alignment with how you want to feel inside out is to love yourself more than anybody else. When you love yourself, you'll sure be kind towards yourself too! And when you are kind to yourself, you will be kind towards others as well.
4. Being kind helps us detach from people's opinions
When I understand that what other people think of me does not define me, and this sets me free from all kinds of approvals and judgments. I do the best I can every day, and I never forget to be kind to myself. This helps me to remember that I am kind to myself and others, but I am also strong enough to walk away from people who don't appreciate me, and value my relationship.
Always remember that you are worthy and equally important, not because others think you are, but because you believe in yourself. When you accept yourself being true, real, and honest; you don't need to propel your life as per others' instructions and directions.
5. Kindness helps you to befriend yourself
When I do not please people to approve me in their life, I become my own friend. I no longer depend on others to make me feel happy, or to fulfil my needs and desires.
Being loved is a human need. But when we start loving ourselves as a whole- there's no need for outside validation. I've become more kind to myself. I have started talking to myself with respect and dignity. I celebrate myself every single day for all kinds of achievements- big or small. When I started to embrace myself with love and compassion, I stopped depending on others to give me company. I became my own company that I enjoy the most.
I hope now you're convinced that kindness is better than people pleasing! Every time you feel the urge to please people to make them happy, and to approve you, just pause for a moment and turn your focus around to kind feelings. When you switch to being kind to people, you'll remember to be kind to yourself too. Kindness doesn't steal your true self from you, but people-pleasing does.