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Column: People-pleasers and a jealous pal
by Lauretta Hannon
June 13, 2013 01:51 PM | 5012 views | 0 0 comments | 149 149 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lauretta Hannon
Lauretta Hannon
Q: I am blessed with great friends, but I have one who doesn’t like doing things with anyone else but me. We all share a common hobby, and this friend is admittedly jealous of the others. I’m a “the more, the merrier” kind of gal, and even though I dearly love this friend, I feel that I’m sneaking around to be with the others (who have no problem whatsoever with including her). I don’t want to hurt her feelings. We are grown women with childish problems, that’s for sure.

A: You are not being covert; you are simply getting together with the others. And you mustn’t worry about her feelings. She’s choosing to be jealous and has to live with the consequences. Enjoy your gatherings with the group and your one-on-ones with her. No need to fret over a situation she has created. Her limits are self-imposed and shouldn’t burden you.

Q: Last week you said it was wrong to “insert the political into the spiritual.” Why is that?

A: Rather than offer a lengthy explanation, let me boil it down to a visual analogy. Bringing politics into the realm of God is like dumping a horse turd on a fine bone china plate. Now do you get it?

Q: What’s the difference between being a people-pleaser and just being ridiculously accommodating (something all Southerners learned at their mother’s knee)?

A: Gracious hospitality and consideration for others are beautiful things. But being a people-pleaser is a dysfunctional personality pattern that can cause great harm.

According to Dr. Leon Seltzer in Psychology Today, people-pleasers feel that “to be good enough they must comply with the wishes and demands of others” and are “unable to validate themselves from within so must depend on others to confirm their value from without. Not having developed any sense that they’re inherently worth caring for — i.e., lovable for themselves — they strive to make themselves lovable by becoming for others whatever they think might be wanted from them.”

When we deny our intrinsic worth, a terrible price is exacted on our health. Each act that negates our authenticity is like a little suicide. We become resentful, anxious and physically sick. We can’t be well if we’re living a lie, seeking our validity outside of who we really are.

People-pleasing afflicts many women because we’re raised to put everyone first and expected to sacrifice. This is something we have to unlearn. For years I had a form of people-pleasing characterized by over-giving. I would plunge myself in other folks’ projects to the point of burnout. Even though the projects were important and aligned with my interests, they were keeping me from my purpose.

I would also over-give by allowing energy-suckers to take all that I had. I didn’t realize that I was being excessively open, and they were feasting on me. Finally I became better at setting up filters and boundaries.

Remember that we should not feel guilty about caring for ourselves. In fact, self-care is required if we want to nurture anyone else. Think of the instructions we get from flight attendants: Place the oxygen mask on yourself FIRST. As Dr. Christiane Northrup says, “If you don’t fill up your own cup first, you’ll have nothing to give.”

I guess we should just avoid the extremes. Don’t be a doormat or a selfish dictator. I delight in being considerate and “ridiculously accommodating.” But I’ll never be that way again at the expense of my own self.

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Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of “The Cracker Queen — A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life” and a keynote speaker. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more at

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