Working to Please the Pleasable

I love to please people!

Seth Godin here talks about discernment for those of us who enjoy pleasing… and sometimes run into people who cannot be pleased:

There are bosses, customers and partners who will never be happy.

And sometimes, despite the futility, we work to please them anyway.

Because that can be a compass. It can help us do the work that will satisfy others (or ourselves).

It can also be a trap, an endless treadmill of disappointment that leads nowhere in particular.

We should be clear about which one we’re on. Because working to please the pleasable is a lot more likely to pay off.

I’d say one of the Real Skills I’ve cultivated is being easier to please. Emotional practices like Gratitude and Appreciation and Simple Uplifts help with our ability to allow ourselves to be pleased by Nature, our co-creators, and life.

Recognizing another person’s capacity to be “pleased” I feel is honest discernment. I’m thinking of one of our circle member’s employers who simple isn’t easy to please. It may not even be possible to please him!

As Seth points out, we can still seek to “please” because that can point us in the direction of acts of service and intentions that can be pleasing to ourselves (and to others who are more of a pleasing match!).

And it can be a trap. I was fortunate that my Mom could be pleased at times… or at least given a bit of relief… by the attention I might give to domestic chores and acts of kindness. The trap for me, as a child, was that if Mom was feeling worried and strained, I might flail around trying and trying to please her… when she really was not in a state of being where that was… possible… or at least unlikely.

I’m feeling the truth that there are moments when I really am in a state where I could NOT be easily pleased. That’s on me.

I’m also feeling the truth that the most easily pleased people I love are also sometimes in a state where they cannot be easily pleased! That’s not on me. And indeed, allowing for a little less action to try and please them in those moments might keep more of my energy in reserve, for moments when Pleasing Is Possible.

How have you seen this play out in your life?


As an older woman who was taught that “little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice”, I learned to please, please, please. In some cases the more I pleased the more they wanted, which were the unpleaseable. It’s been quite an awakening to realize it isn’t my job to try and make everyone happy. My primitive brain does not like those “looks” I’ve gotten when I said no.

Pleasing just to please feels better. I still have to tap on the balance and of course learning that it’s ok to please myself too.


I needed to learn that if it wasn’t actually pleasing to me, even if pleasing to others, it would deplete the we-space over time. And me.

Thanks for sharing that, @Angelsloveyou!


Yes! That’s helpful to me. I find that my people-pleasing is often rooted in fear of repercussion. I’m working on strengthening my boundaries and being okay with other’s displeasure. I can still be loving and supportive, but I need to be loving and supportive of myself and identify my needs better - more clarity - or like you said, it spills into the we-space regardless.


Your words remind me that yes, identifying my needs is a crucial part of this.

My sense is that there is a “grounded place” where what we stand for, what matters to us… when we’re being that – even if imperfectly – someone else displeasure is to give THEM clarity, perhaps?

That doesn’t read as clearly as I feel that. For example, if I was being thoughtful, best I could in the moment, and someone starts blaming me… that really is for them to look at. Maybe they don’t really WANT a thoughtful person around?

“I was being as thoughtful and considerate as I could at the time considering my own state of being, needs, and information I had about the other person’s needs.”

How do we want to be in relation to someone who is grumpy and even blame-y in the face of that personal truth?



For my emotional freedom, I really want to find better techniques to deal with a close loved one’s blame. I am aware that I give my close loved one’s opinions about me or a given situation a ton of weight. Maybe that’s a problem, but I listen to those closest to me for feedback more than the general public, etc. And sometimes this trips my own sense of self and my self-trust. I energetically take on blame easily because I already have my own thought patterns/beliefs/judgments about myself (that I am working on). I think - maybe my loved ones see something I don’t about me. Maybe I need to look at something. I recall in therapy learning to listen to other’s feedback, including blame, and then assessing it to see if it matches my truth, if there is something there for me to look at, and then discarding it if it isn’t true for me. I want a stronger sense of self love and acceptance so I can do this. I want to balance being open to feedback, parsing out what’s mine (including blame), and protecting myself from taking on what’s not mine. UGH.


Don’t we ALL?

To me right now, blame is a particularly packaging.

Let’s say I have a request, something that if you could do – more often or nearly always – would be easier on my nervous system and better for my well-being.

If I wrap that in BLAME, it is like wrapping an apple in shit.

We do NOT have to eat an apple given to us by a loved one if it is wrapped in shit. We do not. Even if it contains the seeds for something beautiful.

As you noted, you’re aware (!) of areas where you’re wanting more savvy, more grace, more resilience. I do not believe it helps us be nourished and grow if we eat blame shit.

I believe that it also is not actually helpful to encourage our loved ones to “get us to change” by blaming us. Blame is low vibration, it is not taking responsibility for our own resilience (or lack of same), or our own needs.

For example, I have a need (sometimes a “requirement”) for less noise. If I blame the noise maker for making noise, what am I doing?

I am deluding myself that it’s their fault that they are enjoying life with exuberance more than I can handle right now. Instead of me staying “on my side of the net” I’d be dumping on them. That would teach my loved one that it isn’t okay for them to be exuberant and loudly enjoy life.

Still, what about my need for quieter space?

“With what’s going on in my head right now, I really need a quieter space. Would you be willing and able to quiet down, or do I need to find another quieter space?”

It’s true I don’t always say that. I might make a hand gesture to indicate that I need a lower volume of enthusiasm. Inside myself, though, I feel the EMPOWERMENT in recognizing that it’s MY need I’m asking to be honored, and if someone isn’t or can’t, are they really to BLAME for my needs not being met?

Susan Campbell I believe teaches that this is “staying on your side of the net.” You speak to your needs, make requests, understanding that another person is not obligated to meet your needs. (Is that how you’d describe her teaching, @Cathy?)

It’s freeing, at least I experience it that way. There’s an “out” for me as someone whose blamed… it keeps me focused on my needs and requests (not demands) that would better meet those needs. It helps me work WITH people I love who share my We-Space… rather than using blame or resentment to try and activate a guilt-shame driven power OVER them.

For me as someone who has felt blamed (even sometimes when I am not actually being blamed :wink:), this makes it clear that if it is important, then the information can come to me as an apple without the shit. Perhaps one with Heart.


Love to you @Dru! Thanks for engaging with us here!


Such a powerful image (apple wrapped in poop). Thank you, @Rick! I’m going to give this some thought! :poop: :poop: :poop: :poop: :apple: :apple: :apple: :apple:


The looks / expressions can be triggering for me which connect to my anger button when it’s someone within my immediate space. Must tap to deactivate and elevate that negative charge.

Well done you’re tapping for the balance. Thank you for being a good example for me! Much appreciation.


That was so helpful.


It continues to help me to ask, “What am I guessing here?” Also “Was I expecting something different, and that is hitting my nervous system?”

The more curious I can be about where someone close to me is in each NOW, the less triggering it is being to me. What a relief! It been honestly really helpful to have a baby here… she can go from So-Happy-I’m-Drooling-with-LOVE …to so grotesquely miserable looking that ooooooohhhh.

And it has nothing to do with who I am or anything I did (usually – I did bump her head on the changing table – softly the other day but WOW, was she unhappy. Me too!). I’d love to decouple the internalization of other people close to me having distress from my nervous system’s response.

Indeed, I’d LIKE when someone is distressed (or has that look) for it to activate a bit more calm, and a bit more confident presence. We’ll see!

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Rick would you ask the person who is close to you what they are feeling/thinking to give that look to you? Or just tap on yourself that it has nothing to do with me?

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I have asked, and I think sensing whether the person is open in the moment can be useful (even if imperfect).

“Would you be open to sharing what’s going on for you?”

“I’m guessing from the look on your face that you’re feeling distressed about something. Is that true?”

If later…

“Earlier today when we were ____, the story I was telling myself is that you were upset with me for ____. Is that true?”

I do try to give myself space to come out of any triggering / primitive brain before asking… otherwise it has proven less than helpful. :wink:

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This all certainly takes practice doesn’t it! I need a store house in my brain to pull out these good nuggets when I get triggered and want to know if it was something I said or did.


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Perhaps start with tapping on letting go of needing to know IF it was something you said or did?

My baby was napping yesterday. I was being quietly present with her, working at my computer while she rocked in her swing.

The I did something really human…

I sneezed!

OH DEAR HEAVENS! Her face contorted, she screamed, eyes darting to see what horrible thing made that NOISE!

I think sometimes we trigger people just by being human. Unavoidably.

If we’re tracking our we-space, if we’re “reasonably” thoughtful and kind and considerate (not walking-on-egg-shells considerate), and someone in our we-space is getting triggered (and then we co-trigger), my belief is that my first responsibility is to:

  • Self-Regulate

Then if I can start that process, perhaps we can:

  • Co-regulate

“I’m feeling like a hug would help me. You up for that?”

I do think micro-aggressions give some indication of the internal orientation, frame, and level of regulation another person has at that moment. There are certain micro-aggressions (and mojo-aggressions) that are really toxic – like contempt.

When we get triggered, getting reassurance can be helpful. When something keeps happening, understanding “why?!?” can be helpful if we’re in a place where we can take it in with compassion for self- and the other person.

I need to pause and catch my breath

I want to practice more and more the “I need to pause” approach. Doesn’t that feel respectful of the we-space? Take the pause, re-regulate, and then words will more appropriately flow that restore and bring connection.

(I don’t remember any of those questions I posted when I am triggered… because they are NOT questions to ask when triggered! If triggered, PAUSE. If regulated – calm and confident – even if the other person is not, then questions or witnessing statements.)

Thanks for engaging with me on this!


Yes. I forget to pause, so instead I REACT and that doesn’t work out so well. Pausing is what I want to remember rather than “needing to know If it was something I said or did”.

Thank you. And



I think, for me, this is a very fertile and important area to explore. In my mind it’s a very legitimate question as to whether I am actually in control or at cause of making anyone feel anything by what I say or do. There is a sort of cause/effect illusion that takes place I think. It goes like this: 1) I say something or do something - 2) a person who heard or saw that then experiences an emotion = 3) that means I caused that emotion to occur in that person. Well, I’m not so sure that represents the reality of the situation. That sort of cause/effect to my mind is reserved for the arena of Newtonian physics…inanimate objects…billiard balls bouncing off of each other. We are animate processes…not inanimate objects and different sort of physics applies. Our internal ‘physics’ are not Newtonian in nature. Words and emotions are not billiard balls with a direct cause/effect relationship.

It’s quite possible that very same person could have simply imagined me saying those words and had that very same emotional response. Am I still at ‘cause’ if I’m not even present? Why not? Why then would I be at cause simply by being closer in proximity while saying those words? The ‘physics’ of the situation hasn’t changed at all. I mean, if he can create those emotions in his imagination without me even being present then maybe he’s creating those emotions even when I am present, no? Whether I’m there or not the very same perceived Newtonian cause/effect has taken place.

For me this is not simply a mind game I’m playing or a way to give up responsibility for my actions or an excuse to say unkind words or engage in unkind actions. In fact it seems to me that it’s an understanding that allows me to take much greater responsibility for my actions and my emotions. If I feel that my facial expressions or words have the power to cause emotions in others then it must be true that I can be equally victimized by other’s words, expressions and gestures… and I reject that notion, that story. Where’s the freedom in that?..where’s the thriving in that? There are certainly times that I can feel as if that’s true but I remind myself that there is an underlying reality that is more the real truth of that dynamic…which is this: it very well may have been something I said or did but that still doesn’t mean I caused those emotions in that person…and the reverse, of course, is also true…it may have been something someone said or did but that still doesn’t mean they caused those emotions in me.

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There’s physics, and there’s chemistry. And there’s other realms of energy interactions, too. When brought into the awareness, it feels to me to make it more complex… and more compassionate, too.

Jupiter’s gravitations pull, for example, is said to have a significant impact on life on earth, perhaps most importantly as a “protector” energy against interstellar objects. But it’s complex. it both protects and also stirs things up. If that applies to something big and obvious like Jupiter…

The presence of a happy, joyful, freedom experiencing person I’d like to think of as a positive state of being. Yet, that person can be deeply triggering!! Someone trapped in an abusive relationship may be triggered into envy. Someone who really needs quiet to process a loss they are grieving may be triggered into annoyance or regret.

Oh dear. What are we responsible for?!?

  • If my competence is triggering to someone…
  • If my artistic talent is triggering to someone…
  • If my enthusiasm is triggering to someone…
  • If my emotional range (laughter and tears) and depth makes someone uncomfortable…

I sense we could go on and on and on.

It’s what takes me back to Acceptance.

Acceptance doesn’t mean Compatible. The Comedian might not be compatible (in that moment) with the artist focusing on their work. Doesn’t make either of them wrong. Or needing to personally change!

It does seem to imply that they need right distance in their We-space… or recalibration about how they interact in their ecosystem at certain times.


‘Triggered’ is a very interesting word to unpack. When I consider the word it evokes a couple of thoughts in me relevant to this discussion.

  1. ‘Triggered’ is not the same as cause/effect…and the felt perception of cause/effect is what I’m addressing because I see that as a ubiquitous (harmful) belief.

  2. ‘Triggered’ requires participation from the person experiencing the effect. It matters not to the ‘physics’ of the thing whether that participation is conscious or unconscious…both are a type of participation required to arrive at the result…the ‘effect’. It is not an inanimate type of cause/effect relationship as is often perceived. Many/most people IME have the perception of 'those words/actions caused me to feel ‘x, y, z’. That’s what I’m arguing against. It’s my assertion that that’s a fallacy…a very ubiquitous and dangerous fallacy.

I’m not saying there isn’t some sort of transfer of energy in a transaction of words, gestures and actions between people…what I’m saying is that it is not the cause/effect that many of us sense that it is. It disregards the aspect of agency for instance.

Forgive me if I’m not understanding what you mean here but I don’t think what I’m describing necessarily carries with it uncompassionate behaviours or feelings. I can still feel HUGE compassion all the while being VERY clear that I am not at cause of the emotions another is feeling even if they have the experience that my words triggered their emotions.

Inanimate objects are not privy to animate agency…when one billiard ball hits another the ball that is hit has no agency in the transaction…it is simply at ‘effect’…and this is what many/most people experience in daily life. People so often forget (or never learned) about their participation in these energetic transactions. If one person does not participate in the energetic transaction or alters their participation then no triggering will occur…or at the very least a new triggering will happen…perhaps a delightful one. Words, gestures, behaviours and emotions are not ‘things’…they are not objects…they are animate processes and to speak of them as objects and things then invites the belief of cause/effect…which truly has no validity in our inner world. I realize that because of our lifelong ‘training’ it may seem like I’m describing and advocating for some sort of robotic non-reactionary ‘we space’…a world filled with Mr. Spocks from Star Trek… but I believe that is not the outcome of what I’m describing. If we all put ourselves fully at cause of our own suffering and happiness rather than hapless victims of triggering from other’s words and actions then isn’t that where real freedom might lie? In some way isn’t what I’m describing (using the terminology of physics) the essence of the desired state that Buddhism describes? I don’t think most of us would see most Buddhists as uncompassionate or robotic and uncaring.

This to me represents a deep aspect of emotional freedom. For me it seems very self-compassionate and also bestows on the other person a humanity that is denied by mere cause/effect. If I don’t recognize the other person’s participation in this transaction then essentially I am communicating to them and to myself that I see them simply as an inanimate object…a billiard ball…helplessly buffeted by the effects of various random causes (words, actions, sounds, gestures, facial expressions) taking place around them.

** I REALLY appreciate your engagement with me Rick. This is the sort of stuff I am passionate about engaging in a real discussion about. I’ve said it before…I love your mind…a very different mind then my own in many regards…you are a HUGE resource of learning and challenge and wisdom for me and I so appreciate that. Thank you my friend!! :slight_smile:

Thank you, your passion and interest in discovery is deeply felt by me.

I start from some assumptions.

  • We are human animals.
  • We are herd animals.
  • We are more than what we’ve historically considered “animalistic.”

When you hear me talk about the primitive brain, it’s I hope in a way that honors that there is a core intelligence in us that is more primal and survival oriented than other parts. And that we’ve evolved into a partnership with parts of us so that our cognitive brain is getting more and more influence (but not necessarily CONTROL) over how we react to situations… and with training and development, we can grow into being remarkably calm and confident.

So viewed as One Human Being, there is SO MUCH empowerment in what you describe. We are not hapless. We’re not lizards. We have options that our primate cousins don’t possess.

We want to fully embrace the empowerment possible in developing real emotional skills – meaning, an energy is present within AND without, and we feel we can respond in a way that feels… free. Like ourselves. Human and humane, and more.

Here’s what seems to me observable, too. If we take a buddhist monk who has camaraderie and connection through shared community and practices, and that community turns on them – with ostracism, contempt, anger, resentment – what happens inside their emotional body?

My guess is that most even highly trained meditators would be activated by that treatment.

You remind me of how much I really do not like the term triggered even though it is oft-used in this context. The term activated for me says that the emotional ecosystem I’m connected with can and does influence me… in ways that are not necessarily easy/possible (?) to filter out.

For me that is why the me-space work we do to hone our emotional skills is absolutely fruitful! The more I personally do to tend to being more responsive than reactive, the fewer situations activate me in a primitive brain way.

For me it is also crucial to acknowledge that certain we-spaces make things more easeful. Yes, I can meditate in a crowded airport. Yes, I find it a lot easier with sound isolation or in nature… unless there are flies and mosquitos, in which case I prefer an airport. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Sensitives like myself seem to have sensors that are, well, more sensitive! Just like there are microphones that pick up more signal as well as background noise, so too the sensors throughout my whole body and extended energy field pick up vibrations and process them, amplify and filter and try to make sense of them.

To me there is a realness to the ways we humans are connected that even defies “space-time.” I’ve had enough real-world examples of this, especially with loves ones, where I can know and feel in my body – and be influenced by that.

It will be fascinating to explore how non-localized our emotional / energetic bodies are as we develop technologies that make that more reveal-able. Until then, I do believe that when one suffers, there is an influencing energy that radiates. When one wants to attack, defend, hide, run, or die… it’s not just “in the air” (although I believe it is), my assertion is that it is felt.

Felt sense. Felt sense activates feelings. Some feelings are, for some people at some moments… too much (?). Oh heck, I’ll just say triggering.

YES! We’re co-creating. We’re not in-animate. We have agency, even if impaired by trauma or lack of development or system overwhelm.

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