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Why Trying to Make Other People Happy Leaves You Feeling Alone as a Mixed Person



magnets with the words "too" and "nice"

Being nice is good. It’s good to be nice. 


But when being “nice” is the primary way you try to build connections with other people, you might be selling yourself short. 


Many of the clients I work with identify as people pleasers (or recovering people pleasers). This makes a lot of sense because as mixed people we are often trying to figure out where we belong. Sometimes it feels like literally anywhere would be good, literally anything other than feeling isolated and rejected.


In this blog, we'll explore the reasons behind the unexpected loneliness that often accompanies the relentless quest to please others and be friends with everybody.


Why You Feel the Way You Do


Inauthenticity:


While seemingly “selfless,” being overly accommodating to other people without extending yourself the same care means you end up hiding parts of yourself. And in the process, it’s not uncommon to actually lose touch with your own understanding of who you are, what you desire and your opinions.


Superficial Connections:


In the pursuit of being friends with everybody, it's easy to end up with a large network of acquaintances but few deep and meaningful connections. These superficial interactions can leave you feeling lonely because they lack the depth and understanding that comes with genuine connections. You never learn if the people you surround yourself with are down with who you actually are.


Emotional Exhaustion:


Constantly striving to meet the expectations of others and maintain a certain image or reputation can be emotionally draining. People-pleasers often find themselves exhausted from the effort of trying to keep everyone happy, leaving little energy for self-care or nurturing genuine relationships. They often struggle to honor their boundaries. You might not realize that you are constantly in a state of performance and constantly needing to be “on”  instead of enjoying relationships where you can relax. 


Why You Do What You Do:


person with box over their head

The Fear of Rejection:


The fear of rejection is a powerful motivator underlying people-pleasing tendencies. And for those of us with early life and repetitive experiences of being or feeling rejected, our bodyminds often adapt by doing everything they can to protect us from experiencing that pain (again). 


Relationships Feel Scarce


You carry so many memories of being rejected and being an outsider that you don’t feel like you have other options. This is admittedly challenging to work through because you don’t want to gaslight yourself by ignoring or minimizing the pain you’ve endured, but you also want to heal enough to be open to positive connections with good people - and they are out there, I promise!


Trauma Mastery:


Trauma mastery is when we attempt to heal from traumatic experiences by revisiting or recreating situations and hoping for a different outcome. We go into these similar situations hoping (consciously or unconsciously) to experience a victory; in our relationships that might be finally receiving the kind of attention or validation we’ve been craving. What’s challenging is that when we are so outwardly focused, it then becomes hard to read our own internal cues to take in connection. It can also skew our ability to discern if an acquaintance is actually someone we want to invite into our inner circle.


What To Do:


While the intention to make others happy and be friends with everyone is noble, it's essential to strike a balance. You’re already good at checking in with people to make sure they’re good; it’s just time to extend that same support to yourself. 

The You-Turn is an Internal Family Systems Therapy approach to supporting yourself in relationship discomfort and conflict.


  1. Drop your agenda.

  2. Temporarily let go of the idea that you need to change or do more.

  3. Accept the reality that you are feeling activated or insecure and temporarily “let go of the rope.”

  4. Trust that you can return to your agenda, but only after you’ve lowered your personal level of tension

  5. Focus on your reaction (behavior, emotions, thoughts) and physical state. 

  6. Flesh out what you are feeling. Use descriptive language as though you were trying to describe what you are feeling to another person.

  7. Give compassion to yourself / this part and acknowledge why it makes sense that you are feeling this way.

  8. See if you can get curious about what’s happening underneath your initial reaction.

  9. Normally our initial reaction is a protective one. Our protective parts will jump to help our inner children, who remember times when we didn't have as much agency in our lives.

  10. When you identify what’s happening beneath the surface or what inner child part the protector is protecting, give yourself even more compassion.

  11. Resource yourself.

  12. Remember that you DO have agency now, including the right to be yourself and the right to be selective about who you allow into your life.

  13. Do something grounding such as journaling, swaying side to side, squeezing your shoulders, or making a good cup of tea.

  14. Consider what other resources or supports you need right now. That could be doing something fun, calling a friend, scheduling an appointment with me or another therapist or coach, or something else.


Adapted from Keith A. Miller and Internal Family Systems Therapy 


Help is Here


woman with peace fingers is happy

My group healing program Find Your Roots starts in April; applications open in March.


This is a group for you to learn how to feel connected to yourself and other people in an authentic way. I'll walk you through exercises and skill building so that you can feel emotionally grounded, validated in your identity, and empowered to build relationships with others who have your back.


Make sure you get on the waitlist so you get exclusive updates and first dibs on getting registered!





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