Why Practicing Compassion Is a People-Pleaser’s Secret Superpower

People-pleasers veer between believing that they are far 'too nice' and not 'nice enough' in relationships. They become stuck in a vortex of resentment and guilt they do not know how to escape from. Compassion is exactly what they need. If you're a people-pleaser here's why practicing compassion could be the superpower you might be searching for.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

People-pleasers struggle with wanting to be nice and a good person to the other extreme of not being a push-over. As that struggle is never resolved they give, give, give, give and…explode! So, I can imagine that telling them to practice compassion might lead to some levels of resistance. It smells weak to them as in their minds it just means “more nice”.

Let me assure you, compassion is anything but weak and anything but ‘more nice’. There is a significant difference between ‘nice’ and ‘compassion’ . The textbook definition of nice is “giving satisfaction” whereas the textbook definition of compassion is “having sympathy for the suffering of others”

As you can see, both are concerned about others, but the key difference is that nice is about ‘giving’ whereas compassion is about ‘having’.  

‘Giving’ tends to come from an empty space, ‘having’ has already filled the empty space.

Giving is this about how you are seen, and how you want to be seen. As such, it needs constant outside approval.

Compassion, on the other hand, is an attribute and a value you have chosen to practice. It’s real, it’s genuine and most importantly it doesn’t need outside approval.

See the difference? It is a dream replacement for people-pleasers, their fail-safe get-out clause so they can continue to be nice, but from a healthy rather than an empty one.

If you’re a people-pleaser try practicing compassion. Here are four massive reasons that compassion could be your superpower that you might need to embrace.  

  1. You stop expecting perfection⁠

People-pleasers are perfectionists extraordinaire. Duke Robinson says this is because people-pleasers are especially vulnerable to criticism.

One of the major reasons you are a perfectionist, therefore, is stay safe from criticism, from making a mistake, and from getting it wrong.

Perfectionism is also tied up to your self-worth and thus keeps you needing to be seen as the good one, the competent one, and the reliable one. When you face criticism your very carefully built sandcastle falls apart.

Practicing compassion actually keeps you safer than your perfectionist habits are ever able to do so. It allows you the freedom to make mistakes and on a more fundamental level unties your outer achievements from your inner self-worth.

2: You stop thinking in black & white terms

People pleasers are general black and white thinkers. It comes from the childhood era or some awful event (s) that made it safer for you to think of life and people in good vs evil terms.  

Practicing compassion moves you naturally beyond that thinking.  We dig beneath the surface of people’s behaviour and actions as we are also developing empathy. We no longer see the world and its people simply as good or evil no matter how convenient that once was.

This itself allows us to be more free, less afraid and maybe more courageous to try new things and be more open.

  • You stop shaming and judging people⁠

Building on the second reason,  practicing compassion build deeper connections.

When you are in a space of trying to be nice you spend way too much time behaving like the Stepford wives reincarnations that refuse to admit to one essential truth: you secretly resent every minute of indulging niceness.  

The sad truth is, in your raging mind you are having a field day in of judging and shaming the very people you want to get up-close and personal with. They are –in your mind- selfish, self-absorbed, self-centered -all about the self.

When you practice compassion, you get beneath the surface of their seemingly offensive actions and understand why they show up the way they are. You also begin to take real responsibility of your own actions which are creating this one-sided relationship. 

4 You stop shaming your self⁠

The biggest reason why compassion is your superpower is that it fundamentally shifts your relationship with yourself. You aren’t just busy shaming and judging others. You are very adept at shaming and judging yourself. 

You are either hell-bent criticising yourself for not being nice enough, or you are stoking the fire of toxic-inner-guilt for being too nice. You can never win! Plus, it has an awful impact on your life and relationships”

Kristen Neff, the author of the brilliant book “Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself”,  says it gorgeously “If you are continually judging and criticizing yourself only leads to feelings of separation and isolation.”

By practicing self-compassion you begin to soften your stance against yourself, for your past failures, for your apparent inadequacies and this creates a beautiful space for you to further your growth .

So there you have it. Practicing compassion will get you out of the hell hole that being nice has got you into.

Practicing compassion is more real, authentic than being nice ever as and is indeed your new secret superpower.

Rooting for you,


P.S Can you think of any other reason that practicing compassion is your superpower?

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...


    Boundaries 101: The BIG difference between being nice and weak – how too many of us are confusing the two.

    by Louise Jackson
    ©2021 Belinda Chiu

    Reimagining Education: The 8 Doors to Compassion

    by Belinda Chiu, Ed.D.

    Cultivating Compassion for Self and Others

    by Sarah Schimschal
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.