Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Pleasing Everyone -- Forget It

Have you ever suffered from “please-a-phobia”? 
It’s not a well-documented condition, but basically it occurs when you attempt to please everyone, and in the process, you take on other people’s values, lose your identity, fill with stress, and end up failing.    
To observe me today, you wouldn’t think I was ever afflicted with this condition--but I was.  I’m the product of a mother who worries about everything and a father who spent his life as a perfectionist.   Tragically, I inherited both genes, resulting in an advanced case of pleaseaphobia.   
Others, much wiser than I am, determined long ago that pleasing everyone was not a viable objective.  I’ve included quotes from a few of them below.  The list includes John Lydgate, Aesop, John Lennon, and my favorite, Unknown.  My life could have been much simpler if I’d heeded their advice earlier.   
It took me years to get my pleaseaphobia under control.  Two things helped.  First, I realized not all of those I was trying to please were working equally hard to please me.   Second, as I aged, I determined trying to please everyone wasn’t the best use of what precious time I had left on earth.  (By the way, if you want a lesson on the futility of trying to please everyone, volunteer to serve on your homeowners’ association board or to coach your son or daughter’s youth soccer team.)  
This isn’t to say I no longer focus on pleasing others.  I do, but I’ve become much more selective in whom I try to please.   I concentrate on friends and family members who care about me.   While we may have differing opinions on some issues, we share a sufficient number of interests and have a mutual respect for each other.
I began writing in my late 50s following a 32-year business career. Nothing opens you up to criticism more than writing.  Like most writers, I love reviews, but to expect my writing to please everyone would be unrealistic.  It didn’t take long to decide my objective shouldn’t be to please all readers, but rather to target an audience who related to my writing style, topics and genre.
As Ricky Nelson sang in Garden Party, “I’ve learned my lesson well.  You can’t please everyone, so you gotta please yourself…” 

Quotes about pleasing others:   
“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
                   ― John Lydgate, 15th Century Monk & Poet
“In trying to please all, he had pleased none.”
                    ― Aesop, Aesop's Fables
“Trying to please everybody is impossible - if you did that, you'd end up in the middle with nobody liking you. You've just got to make the decision about what you think is your best, and do it.”
                  ― John Lennon, The Beatles Anthology
 “If you try to please everyone, you will excite no one.”
                  -- Unknown

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