At the forefront of Abraham Maslow’s Higher Order Basic Needs is man’s need for love and belonging. According to Maslow, most of the population stays at this level, desiring friendship, searching for a mate, and wanting to be part of a family.
On the road to fulfilling our need for love and belonging, we may become selfish, concened with only pleasing ourselves; or people pleasers, concerned with only satisfying others. Finding a balance is tricky, but possible.
Before we get into achieving balance, note that sometimes you cannot please yourself and others simultaneously.
Sometimes you have to say “To hell with it!” and look out for number one. For instance, you’ve done everything you can to make a friendship work but the other person refuses to cooperate. In this case, your happiness comes first.
Sometimes you have to put the needs of others above your own wishes. For instance, you want the latest smartphone for Christmas, but you only have enough money to buy your son a gift. Ask yourself whose happiness is most important here.
Deciding whom to please isn’t always black and white. It’s a situational thing. That said, ultimate harmony is achieved when both parties are satisfied with the result.
Why Balance Is Important
When you’re only concerned with pleasing yourself, you end up using others. The same people whom you used to satisfy your desires may realize what you did and start resenting you. Though it’s natural to seek love, getting it should not be detrimental to others.
Conversely, when you’re only concerned with pleasing others, you risk losing your identity. When you look in the mirror, you see their reflection, not yours. While you’re busy only pleasing others, your own needs aren’t being met. Before you know it, you’re resenting the same people you tried so hard to please.
How to Achieve Balance
Look at the situation from different angles. Finding a solution that’s fitting for both parties becomes easier when everyone’s views and all aspects of the situation are considered.
For instance, you have a possessive streak and don’t want your girlfriend to have any male friends. To make matters worse, she flirts shamelessly with other men. She also strongly believes in platonic friendships with both men and women.
Angle 1: If you ask her to cut off her platonic male friends, you might scare her away permanently.
Angle 2: It’s disrespectful of her to openly flirt with other guys.
Figure what will make you content. Now that you have a balanced view of the situation, pinpoint what will make you happy. Continuing our example… You want your girlfriend to stop having male friends. As far as you’re concerned, you’re the only guy she needs. You also want her to stop flirting.
Determine what will make the other person happy. Since it’s not all about you, you must consider the other person’s needs. Continuing our example… Your girlfriend wants to keep her male friends and continue flirting.
Find a middle ground. To please yourself and others at the same time, in most cases, you must compromise. Continuing our example… Allow your girlfriend to keep her platonic male friends and ask her to curb her flirtatious ways. This way, you both win.
Our desire to please stems from our need for love and belonging. How we go about meeting those needs determines whether we are only pleasing ourselves, only satisfying others, or both.