Opinion: Trying to make everyone happy frequently leaves us feeling lonely.

Feting Blue

The truth is, no matter how hard we try, we can't make everybody happy. And while that might seem like a defeatist attitude at first, the truth is that when you take the pressure off yourself to make everyone around you happy, you'll feel less lonely.

When I was younger, I cared a lot about what everyone thought of me and often changed my behavior to please them. I was afraid that not doing what they wanted would make them angry with me, and I wanted to avoid the anger at all costs.

But the thing about anger is that it's very fleeting. The idea that we can change how others feel about us by merely changing how we present ourselves is a dangerous illusion––one I eventually realized was hurting me.

I was constantly trying to find a happy medium to appease everyone and thus didn't give myself any room to relax or be myself. I was always trying to please, and I was also trying to please myself in the process.

Eventually, I figured out that if you're not happy with yourself, it makes you even less happy when others are angry. The anger feels much worse because indifference toward yourself is not something that you're used to––you rely on the love and support of others to feel good about yourself.

The thing about anger is that it's transient. It comes, and it goes, and as long as you get your needs met in the end, it's okay. If someone gets angry with you but later apologizes and makes up for their behavior by doing something nice for you or being more respectful in the future––the anger is no longer an issue.

Anger lingers when we feel like we're getting the short end of the stick. When we feel like we can't meet our needs and someone else is holding power.

The hardest part is learning to be friends with that anger. Learning to allow yourself to feel it, experience it, but then realize you're not going anywhere for dealing with it. You're not going to abandon yourself or punish yourself for having these feelings; you're just going to acknowledge that they exist and let them pass through.

It takes practice. A lot of practice. It's scary at first to acknowledge that you feel this anger and that you're going to feel it indefinitely––but you don't need to suppress or ignore it.

You just need some self-awareness and compassion––you don't have to be friends with these feelings to achieve your goals and dreams, but you do have to learn how to cope with them if they arise. It can be challenging, but it gets easier once you get a handle on it.

And it is worth it.

So don't bring yourself down by trying to make everybody happy or get your needs met by constantly pleasing others. Instead, learn to love yourself and appreciate the situation that you're in with the people around you. Feelings of hatred and resentment simply won't help you achieve your goals; instead, they'll keep you mired in issues and problems you might not even realize are there.

You don't need to make everybody happy––instead, make yourself happy. And when you're happy, you'll be a happier and more relaxed person, making you a better company.

When I decided to change my attitude toward others and find new ways to get my needs met besides trying to make them happy, I felt an incredible sense of freedom. It was like waking up from a dream that I didn't even realize I was trapped in; it wasn't until I realized there was another way that I started to feel free––and those feelings have stayed with me ever since.

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