People Pleaser And Out of Control? Practice Selective Empathy


Burak Kostak

Red toy model with a tear and a white broken heart

Most of us like to believe that there is good in people regardless of their flaws and some go as far as disregarding unacceptable behavior such as intentionally hurting others for that very purpose. Such disdain towards the self or the innocent party can be very costly to one’s well-being as it causes more trouble to the already troubled and allows for such to further continue instead of stopping. So the question arises: How do we keep everybody happy?

Simple answer: You don’t.

Everybody needs someone to vent to, which is okay, but you are not obligated to take the responsibility of listening to every single person since that can be very exhausting, especially when you already have problems to deal with, and don’t already feel secure enough being on your own. You may be able to provide support to another person but you have to be willing to accept this may come at your expense. Just because you do your part as an empathetic person, making sure everyone is fine, doesn’t mean other people think the same way. People are too consumed with their own lives to check on what you are facing, leaving you feeling alone and wanting to be seen. It’s unfortunate that in today’s world, the sole thing that separates us from other living species, our empathy, something that should be given to every person and not earnt, is a concept taken advantage of.

The other question that arises: How do we stay sane, civil, and empathetic but don’t lose ourselves in our own misery of not being understood at the same time?

Another simple answer: By being selective with who you give your energy to.

By being selective of friends and family who deserves your time and empathy, you can ensure your mental and emotional safety. You’re human so you don’t have unconditional resources for people to freely take from. By not being a universal punching bag and choosing whom you listen to, you’ll feel more free, opening up space for yourself and allowing people to be there for you too.

The sad reality is that not every person is interested in being your friend. Some use for their own good, others forget. However, the good news is people are self-sufficient and don’t always need to be baby-sat. For a change, you should let others do things for you and normalize having someone to rely on. At the end of the day, you have to think about yourself too. But you can’t accomplish this while you focus all your time on being there for others.

Give yourself a break! It’s not your job to be the therapist of the year.