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June 16-19, 2024 • Toronto, ON

Self-sacrifice and People-pleasing is NOT the Same as Kindness

Written by Ina Backbier on March 31, 2022

Self-sacrifice and People-pleasing is NOT the Same as Kindness.   Well-being  Self-sacrifice and people-pleasing may look like kindness, but it isn’t nice at all.  Kindness can be deeply healing AND too often I see kindness used as a survival strategy.

There is another way.

I have written about people-pleasing before but inspired by a conversation with a friend this morning, I feel called to bring a deeper awareness of how this may look and its harmful impact.  We have so often been conditioned to meet the needs of those around us and to see self-care as selfish.  We are all busy juggling the many demands of life and the next day “rinse and repeat”.

However, I invite you to PAUSE and dive deeper to investigate your decisions, your thoughts and motivations

Looking back at my first career in international project management and having worked with plenty of high-performing professionals in my current career, I often see self-sacrifice and people-pleasing driving many decisions. Intention matters, and people-pleasing, which is ultimately always rooted in fear, always comes at a cost.

People-pleasing is an adaptive behaviour that once was an effective survival strategy and that has become habituated, either to gain something (acknowledgement, acceptance, approval, sense of belonging) or to avoid something, such as fear of rejection.  It may be effective still in the short term, but many end up with burnout, health issues, relationship struggles or something else had to give. And of course, we end up feeling taken advantage of whilst it was our own behaviour rooted in feelings of unworthiness, fear of conflict or rejection that contributed to a lack of boundaries.

Change starts with awareness.

The following behaviour has nothing to do with being nice, it is people-pleasing:

  • Not expressing your true feelings to avoid conflict
  • Not asserting healthy boundaries in fear of rejection
  • Accepting blame to avoid conflict or to keep the peace
  • Worrying more about what others think than what you think
  • Committing to things without even considering your needs
  • Saying “yes” when your gut is screaming “noooooo”
  • Struggling to ask for help in fear of rejection or humiliation
  • Going out of your way to accommodate people

 People-pleasing while neglecting your own needs leads to exhaustion, burnout, and resentment.  Neglecting your needs for the needs of others is not kind.  You can be kind to others while being kind to yourself. I would love kindness to be a choice you want to make, not the only choice you feel you have.


This blog was provided by Ina Backbier, Clinical Counselling Hypnotherapist and Somatic Coherence Coach, and business partner of a social enterprise called Mindful Creations, together with Donna Yakibchuk.    Donna is a speaker at our upcoming APC event June 8-11 and will be your host of our networking event “A Fairy Easy Creative Event”, Thursday, June 9th. 

While at Brushes and Cocktails, Donna blends creativity and community building, at Mindful Creations, Ina and Donna use creativity as a powerful catalyst for hardwiring the skills needed to strengthen your inner resilience and wellbeing. Your mental health matters.   Mindful Creations offers beautifully crafted creative on-demand and live retreats – a perfect gift for yourself, a loved one or even your team. 

Our virtual on-demand retreats are broken down into bite-size video sections that you can complete in the comfort of your own space, by yourself or together with others.   If you are interested in learning more about how our live retreats benefit you and your organization, reach out to us at [email protected] and we can send you our brochure and we can book a connection call to discuss your needs.

As a complimentary offer for YOU as part of the APC community to make sampling one of the Mindful Creations virtual on-demand retreats irresistible, use the code “APC” during the check-out for $10 off (20% discount!) – we know you’ll love it!   (Note that our mission is to make leading-edge mind-body tools widely accessible and affordable hence we apply a “pay from your heart” model for our on-demand retreats.)