“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”
Groucho Marx (American Comedian)
“Simply put, you believe that things or people make you unhappy, but this is not accurate. You make yourself unhappy.”
Wayne Dyer (American Psychologist)
“Happiness depends on ourselves.”
Aristotle (Greek Philosopher)
Constantly feeling obligated to make other people happy is incredibly destructive.
(I know this because I used to be a chronic approval seeker.)
Obligation and a feeling of indebtedness is an automatic veto on your needs, your rights, and your goals.
You forfeit your autonomy and, ultimately your success, for someone else.
And for what?
Some promise of promotion?
A more secure relationship?
Avoidance of personal or professional conflict, in general?
These are weak excuses.
This is victim land.
No one makes you feel guilty or obligated to do anything.
They might try and manipulate you into serving them in this way, but the choice to feel obligation is all on you.
You choosing to focus on someone else and being responsible for their feelings isn’t generous, it’s bogus servitude.
It gets you nowhere.
It gets you used.
It allows you to avoid focusing on yourself, your happiness, and your goals.
You’ve volunteered to be a slave to someone else’s moods and lack of personal responsibility.
You’ve volunteered to be a lifetime crutch.
Enter that empty feeling you get when you watch someone else pretending to be happy.
Why You Need To Stop Trying To Please Everyone
Scientific studies show that trying to please everyone can lead to burnout, anxiety, reckless behavior, and depression.
This applies to both our personal and professional lives. Research from Concordia University reported in Human Relations Journal that employees that felt obligated to their employer suffered from emotional burnout and emotional exhaustion, stating…
“It may be that, in the absence of an emotional bond with the organization, commitment based on obligation is experienced as a kind of indebtedness — a loss of autonomy that is emotionally draining over time…”
Stop bending over backwards trying to make your boss happy.
Stop using corporate obligation as a reason to avoid seeking other opportunities that might make you happy.
The stakes are even greater with the same dynamics in interpersonal relationships.
In extreme situations, this is referred to as sociotropy, which is an unbalanced preoccupation with personal relationships.
The Journal of Depression and Anxiety reports it as the opposite of autonomy, and involves a dependence on others for acceptance and approval, making it a prime factor (as is approval seeking in general) for depression.
Look, we all want to be liked.
We all (secretly or not) want approval from others, particularly those we care about.
Psych Central reports that we all have a need for validation and in fact, we are engineered that way through our development, as children looking at our parents for approval, acknowledgment, and pride for our achievements and victories.
As adults, we all want someone in our corner to do the same.
Consider it a perk of a healthy relationship.
Consider it a curse when it becomes an obsession, because the truth is, no matter how hard you try, no matter how perfect you might be, you cannot make someone else happy.
This gets out of hand when any relationship relies on shows and tricks to garner favor from another.
It becomes pathetic and it feels disempowering to rely on extrinsic factors to feel good about ourselves in any way.
You become obsessed with someone else’s reactions all the time.
Instead of trying to make everyone happy in your life and ending up burnt out and depressed, you need to start focusing that energy on your own happiness.
Waiting for that pat on the head that says you’re good enough, feeling the rush of dopamine hit in your brain, just sets you up to become hooked on approval — like an addict.
It’s insanity that you need to stop.
Why You Have To Stop Feeling Obligated For Other People’s Happiness
Feeling indebted steals whatever authentic connection and joy that ever existed in any of your relationships and replaces it with guilted obligation.
It becomes a transaction where you start jumping through hoops in exchange for approval, attention, acceptance, and even security.
As you lose your independence, you become dependent on someone else’s response of happiness for your own sense of happiness.
If you’re one of these people who feels like it’s your job to make everybody happy, you need to stop.
1. Not everyone wants to be happy.
It’s true… some people don’t actually want to be happy.
If you’re a happy person who enjoys living life — guess what — not everyone is like you.
You might want to share your happiness with the world, in hopes that everyone can be as happy as you and good for you, but that’s not how it works.
In fact, some people hate to be happy.
Some people want to be miserable.
They are addicted to it.
Because it works for them.
They like the attention it gets them.
They love it when people like you rush in to help or save them.
It literally gives them an emotional high.
Other people don’t think it’s morally right to be happy.
These people think that they’re supposed to be miserable because misery is saintly and just.
Or they feel like it’s part of some noble ancestral passage to grumble and mope and wait for rescue from sprightly dependents like you.
This “opposites attract” scenario is a dead end for everyone.
They’ll never change.
But you will.
Their infectious misery will become yours, and soon you’ll be addicted to that state and looking for others to lift you up.
It is no one else’s job to manage your mood, your state of mind, your perception on life — but YOURS.
Take personal responsibility for this and choose to be happy.
Stop trying to infuse everyone else with happiness and trust that when you take care of your own, you’ll attract others that are like-minded.
Stop needing external approval or validation and start valuing self-reliance instead.
Then, you can permanently ditch this mindset and the obligation that goes with it, and focus on what you want for your own life.
2. Some people will use their happiness to manipulate you.
These manipulators will sense that you really care about their happiness, or really want them to like you, and they use these desires against you.
They will use your feelings to string you along.
This is why seeking approval from someone else is always a mistake.
Very often, the person you’re chasing is keeping their happiness one step ahead of you on purpose, to use you.
This disgusting behavior is more common than you think.
These people have found the secret to their autonomy, and they’ve found a way to manipulate through this power-play to give themselves even more positive reinforcement.
Without giving anything back, because as much as they want you to be indebted to them in some way as their personal jester, they don’t have any intention of reciprocating.
They will give you just enough approval and positive reinforcement to keep you dancing and under their control.
Around these people, you will always feel like you’ve almost made it, like you’re so close to being good enough.
And then they’ll pull the rug out from under you.
It’s a big joke that makes you a big joke.
It’s a cruel power-play that is designed to hook you into obligation to serve their hunger for their own happiness.
There’s no winning in this situation.
The only salvage of your self-esteem, and mostly your dignity, will come from disengaging from them completely.
These people are toxic, they’re guilt-trippers, and they need to go.
3. You make other people weak by being their crutch.
It’s not “them”.
You aren’t helping someone through a tough time with overindulgent sympathy or trying to take on their burdens.
You can’t make them happy no matter what they are going through or struggling with.
You have to be able to discern when to be supportive, empathetic, and kind without making yourself a crutch for someone to not do their own work.
Sometimes, supporting someone is the worst thing you can do for them.
The longer you hold them up, the weaker their legs become.
Over time, their legs will stop working altogether.
They won’t be able to stand on their own, and it will be your fault.
Tough love is tough, not because it hurts the person on the receiving end, but because it hurts the person who is being tough.
We all know parents who spoil their kids for years and then stand back in shock when their little angels grow up to be brats.
It’s their fault for creating and enabling dependency, and everyone suffers.
Likewise, we all know people who stay in soul-sucking relationships just because one person or both people are too weak to walk away.
The next time you feel obligated to keep someone else happy, remember this — happiness can only be experienced first-hand.
No matter how incredible a moment is, you can’t force someone to experience its incredibleness.
No matter how happy you are, you can’t give someone your happiness.
So stop trying. Instead, lead by example by being your normal happy self and never feeling obligated to keep someone else happy.
People might try and make you feel obligated for their happiness because they don’t want to take responsibility for it themselves. Maybe you’ve put yourself out there as an approval seeker or a people pleaser because you believe it is your job to make other people happy. The reality is that the more you focus on someone else’s state, the more you become dependent on them for your own happiness. Feeling responsible for someone else’s happiness means giving up your own autonomy and self-respect, and puts your own happiness at risk. Stop indulging in relationships with toxic people. The only person that can make you happy is you.
To learn more about how to stop trying to make other people happy, and to get instant access to exclusive training videos, case studies, insider documents, and my private online network, get on the Escape Plan wait list.