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Why People-Pleasing and Care-taking Doesn’t Work

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

Did you know that personal preference, like how you want your pillow to feel, is evidence of your true self? In a study by Maglio and Reich, et. al., 2018, I found the most interesting discussion about pillows. “Across four studies, focusing on feelings in processing decision-relevant information led participates to hold more certain attitudes toward and to advocate more strongly for their chosen options, the result of an upstream connection between a focus on feelings and felt evocation of the true self” (p 9, 2018).

These studies have shown that personal preference is tied to our true self, our true nature. Everyone, for example has personal preferences, soft fabrics or sturdy fabrics, soft toothbrush or firm, and our pillow preference…everyone’s got a preference.

Additionally, “…because people approach choices for others in a qualitatively different way than choices for the self (Polman & Emich, 2011; Polman & Vohs, 2016), perhaps any decision made on behalf of another person would prove incapable of seeming to evoke the true self of the chooser” (p 10, 2018). Care-taking and people-pleasing do not work because they fail to evoke the true self in the other person’s decision-making process, it is limited to only evoking the values of the true self it embodies. Therefore, we can give someone what we think they need, but ultimately it only reflects our true self. We can never truly know what another person wants or needs. Furthermore, I would go as far as to say that self-doubt is like an uncomfortable pillow. We “try on” ideas and thoughts and when they don’t resonate with our true self it’s like trying to sleep on an uncomfortable pillow or bed. No matter how hard we try to rearrange the thoughts to our liking, they keep waking us up. That is why when you feel self-doubt arising, it is your true self saying “go another way!”

Finally, some usefulness in the emotion of self-doubt and a new perspective on care-taking and people-pleasing!

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Maglio, S. J., & Reich, T. (2018, September 10). Feeling Certain: Gut Choice, the True Self, and

Attitude Certainty. Emotion. Advance online publication.

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