Self-kindness: “The Need to Please”

“A key element of self-compassion is self-kindness (Neff 2011), the practice of being warm and understanding toward yourself at any time, but for our purposes, especially when you get stuck in habitual people-pleasing mode.


As you practice mindfulness, and particularly after the preceding reflection, you may notice how harshly you treat yourself on such occasions.


Given that we mimic our parents’ criticisms, and that perfectionism and feelings of unworthiness and anger tend to go hand in hand with chronic people pleasing, it isn’t surprising that you’d be harsh with yourself.


However, harshness only adds to your suffering. Self-kindness is a way to dissolve this harshness, allowing you to support yourself in the moment.


It’s a big step toward healing the childhood wound that causes habitual approval seeking, so remember patience and kindness even when you don’t feel kind toward yourself.


Understanding the origins of your habitual approval seeking and seeing that it isn’t your fault can help you bestow kindness on yourself.



For example, an inability to say no stems from needing to please your parents in an effort to receive acceptance as a child.

When you bring kind understanding to yourself and your inability to say no, you begin to heal from the original wound. You might say to yourself, Of course it would be difficult to say no.


It’s hard to feel this way.


Being kind toward yourself grants you the opportunity to actually feel the warmth of the kind understanding and acceptance you’ve longed for.


In the words of John Welwood, a psychotherapist and pioneer in integrating psychological and spiritual work,

“Though you often try to get others to understand you, the understanding that heals the most is your own” (2006, 117).

Part of self-kindness is letting go of harshness when you realize you aren’t being kind to yourself.”

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Paging Mrs Zen on September 16, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    This “Being kind toward yourself grants you the opportunity to actually feel the warmth of the kind understanding and acceptance you’ve longed for.” Yes!! How beautifully stated!!

  2. If you lived our childhood this inner peace is what we crave

    Feeling we are
    Ok, we need to just relax and enjoy

    I have friends who had a great childhood, told they could be anything they desire, and they always believed things would work out.

    They did not worry.

    This is still foreign to me

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: