You Are Not Responsible for Anyone Else’s Happiness

Emerging from the pandemic provides an opportunity to work on your people-pleasing tendencies.

All illustrations are by the author.

People who had emotionally abusive childhoods might believe they have to take care of other people’s feelings in order to survive.

If you had to take care of your parents’ feelings when you were a child, it actually was necessary for you to people-please. If you didn’t correctly guess what your primary care-taker wanted or needed, and take steps to provide it, the risks were significant. Emotionally abusive parents withdraw care, love, and attention when their own needs are not being met.

Take your own preferences into account.

It’s empowering to acknowledge and name that you have a preference around something like a restaurant, a movie, or a Saturday activity. A lot of us are worried that what we want to do won’t match what someone else wants to do, so we default to, “Let’s go wherever you want to go!” or, “I honestly don’t care; I’d be happy with anything.”

Check in with your own body while you’re in social situations.

When you’re at a party or other gathering, it can help to go inward a few times throughout the event.

Not being responsible for someone’s feelings is not the same as not CARING about someone’s feelings.

In fact, not feeling responsible for anyone else’s happiness allows that person to really feel whatever it is that they are feeling.

Still feeling stuck? Here’s a cheat sheet.

A person who writes and draws and eats her feelings.