It has been said that one’s life can be an expression of their own needs or it can be an expression of other people’s needs. When it comes to the former, one is pleasing themselves; whereas when it comes to the latter, they are pleasing others.

True Fulfilment

In order for one to live a fulfilling existence, it is clearly going to be important for them to take care of their own needs. Now, this doesn’t mean that one will therefore overlook other people’s needs.

There is a strong chance that they will meet other people’s needs through putting their own needs first. For example, one could create their own business and even though this will allow them to full their needs, it will also enable them assist others.


As a result of this, it will be possible for one to fulfil their own needs and to fulfil other people’s needs. The alternative would be for one to be there for others, but to overlook what is taking place within them.

It would then mean that even though one is having a positive effect on others, they are not having a positive effect on themselves. Another way of looking at this would be to say that one is sabotaging their own life.

The Outsider

However, even though this is the case, it doesn’t mean that other people will always realise this. Due to how one is behaving, they could believe that they are simply a ‘selfless’ human being.

One is then an example of how people should behave and they are going to admire their behaviour. What could also play a part in this is that one could act as though they are only too happy to overlook their own needs.

A Facade

There is also the chance that they could be so concerned with their own needs that they don’t take the time to think about one’s needs. Yet even if one does come across as easy going and ‘selfless’, it doesn’t mean this reflects what is taking place within them.

During the moments when they are by themselves, they could feel frustrated, angry and powerless. At the same time, this could be an experience that doesn’t last for very long, as one could end up feeling guilty and ashamed.


It then won’t matter if there is external pressure, as one will keep themselves in line. This is something that could take place without one being fully aware of what is happening, and then before long, they could soon be doing what they can to please someone.

If one was able to take a step back from what is taking place, they may find that their life has been this way for quiet some time. It can then be seen as who they are as opposed to how they are choosing to behave.

A Choice

The trouble is that one is unlikely to see that they do have a choice when it comes to how they behave, and this can partly come down to how long they have experienced life in this way. It can be seen as something that just happens, and it is then going to be normal for one to have this outlook.

If one was to open up to someone about what is taking place, they may say that they need to put their needs first and not to worry about pleasing others. One could then be told to change their behaviour and then everything will be fine.

Two Sides

However, even though one is suffering unnecessarily through putting other people’s needs first, it doesn’t mean that they can just change what they are doing. For one thing, they could be out of touch with their own needs, and it could also cause them to experience a lot of pressure.

The mental and emotional pain they experience through trying a different approach could be stronger than the mental and emotional pain they usually experience. It can then be a lot easier for one to carry on doing the same thing and to neglect themselves.


When one puts their own needs first, they could end up feeling overwhelmed, and this could occur even if they were to only think about doing it. The sheer discomfort they experience is then going to stop them from being able to think clearly.

It is then not a case of one putting their needs first and feeling as though they are doing the right thing; it’s as though something bad will happen, or that their world will come to an end. And through having this inner experience, it is not going to be a surprise for them to overlook their own needs.


One could find that this is an experience that they have no matter who they are with, or it could be something that they generally experience around their friends and family. Also, if one is in an intimate relationship, it could be something that they experience in their company.

One way of looking at this would be to say that one’s life revolves around pleasing other people, and this is then something that allows them to feel safe. The problem is that whilst it stops them from having to feel uncomfortable, it stops them from being able to live their own truth.

Why Is This?

This is then similar to how a child sees their caregiver whilst they are growing up; at this age, their survival does revolve around pleasing others. But through receiving the right care, they will gradually grow out of this and develop a sense of self.

If one doesn’t receive the right care (and this could be because they were abused and/or neglected), it won’t be possible for them to develop a sense of self. As a result of this, they will stay in a boundary-less state and continue to believe that their survival rests on pleasing others.


It is then going to be important for one to develop boundaries on one hand and to work through the pain they experienced during their early years on the other. Once one feels like an adult and no longer sees life as they did as a child, their life will begin to change.

This is a process that can take place with the assistance of a therapist and/or a support group.

Author's Bio: 

Prolific writer, author and coach, Oliver JR Cooper hails from England. His insightful commentary and analysis covers all aspects of human transformation; love, partnership, self-love, and inner awareness. With over one thousand in-depth articles highlighting human psychology and behavior, Oliver offers hope along with his sound advice. Current projects include "A Dialogue With The Heart" and "Communication Made Easy."

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