Let pleasing others be a decision, not a compulsion
We are social beings who thrive in happy relationships. To keep our interactions with others pleasant, we usually want to please them, or to at least not displease them.
However, we can’t please everyone; we just can’t do everything people want us to do because we are finite beings.
Moreover, pleasing others may not always be beneficial, neither to us nor to them. For example, if alcoholics’ relatives live to please others, they will have to become round-the-clock alcohol suppliers. They will thus become codependents who unintentionally perpetuate or even aggravate the alcoholic’s addiction.
Codependency refers to excessive emotional reliance on another person, especially one who makes unreasonable and unhealthy demands – such as an addict or abuser. Just as alcoholics feel compelled to drink, their codependents feel compelled to please them. Why would anyone become a codependent? One reason is that they unwittingly base their self-worth solely on what others think about them.
Codependency may obstruct our spiritual growth too. When we understand that we are souls, who are eternal parts of the all-attractive supreme, Krishna, we naturally want to serve him, and serve others in relationship with him.
However, most people are materialistic. We can and should serve them by helping them appreciate life’s spiritual side. And as a part of our service to them, we may take a conscious decision to please them in some other aspects of life. However, if pleasing them requires us to act against our nonnegotiable spiritual values, then we have to draw a firm line. Otherwise, we may become codependents who facilitate and escalate their materialism. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (13.11) states that the knowledgeable live detached from the general mass of people.
When pleasing others is our conscious decision, not our subconscious compulsion, then we can act to further our and their holistic growth.
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