If you’re like me, and your strategy has been to seek approval from others, trying to please them, and gain self-esteem through accomplishments, I think you’ll eventually find that it doesn’t work, and it backfires on you. You’ll grow to resent pleasing others, and trying to fill a void is a never-ending endeavor. The very people you were trying to please will also resent being manipulated. These are all harsh truths that I’ve learned, and there seemed to be a series of rock bottoms until I finally got it. It may hurt (a lot), but once you get this, you’ll be home free.
Trying not to be a people-pleaser aka a jerk is equally futile. Either way, you’re working with a false and limiting belief about who you really are. It’s like saying from the get-go that you’re powerless. When all strategies of trying to appease others fail, it’s actually a blessing. For the past year (especially), any time I tried to people-please I’d get nauseous, and imagine throwing up. I think of it as my ego going through withdrawal symptoms.
What’s worked for me – the antidote – is to be unconditional, and I’ve found that everything is a condition; thoughts, attitudes, moods, beliefs, behaviors, situations, successes, failures, people, things, you name it. Being conditional means in order to be who you are (a happy and fulfilled human being), a condition must first be met. That’s essentially slavery to external things. I think the ego itself is a condition, and I find that the more unconditional I am, the more whole and integrated I feel. I believe that what we truly want is to be who we really are, and everything is an excuse, or reason, or condition we may (or may not) use for that.