Destructive Kindness

Cover of The Caretaker (publ. Methuen, 1960)

Cover of The Caretaker (publ. Methuen, 1960) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the things about divorce is that you take some time to take a good long hard look at yourself and come to a realization about yourself and why things didn’t work out. That’s when you have overcome your over riding belief that it’s the other person’s fault.

Indian women have been trained from childhood to do is to people please, to be nice, to say ‘yes’ when they would rather say ‘no’ and to internalize a host of emotions ranging from anger, helplessness, resentment, bitterness and many others I haven’t listed here. None of these are conducive to a good relationship. Are you a people pleaser?  Do you need the approval of other people ? Think about it – because it isn’t something we easily admit to. What is the driving force behind your taking the decisions you do? Is it because you really want to or are the waters muddied by what you think you are expected to do?

Did you stay in your marriage longer than you wanted to because you couldn’t deal with what people would say to you? Did you in fact marry because you didn’t know how to say ‘no’ to a perfectly nice person? A seemingly wonderful person who just wasn’t right for you. Do you still get to hear the puzzlement in people’s voices about what went wrong in your marriage considering you are both so balanced and with ‘nothing wrong’ with either of you?

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs

People pleasers keep giving and giving. ” People pleasing can be addictive. You become addicted to the approval and good feelings that come from making people happy and comfortable, as you tend to their needs over your own. You ultimately crave this acceptance in order to feel validated and worthy. You keep giving and giving to get your fix of approval and self-esteem.”


People pleasers take care of every one else’s children, parents, sick relatives at the cost of their own health and needs. “It’s a matter of finding a way to be responsive to the needs of others without abandoning our own needs. The next time we think we “should” do something, transform the words into “I think” or “I want.” We must dare to join the human race and stand up for ourselves if we are ever going to kick the habit of people-pleasing” - The trouble with people pleasers is that their kindness is destructive to themselves. They forget to be as nice to themselves as they are to other people. They don’t get the same kind of approval when they take care of themselves. Being loved for what they’re doing is more important to them than loving themselves or doing what they do because they really want to do it  instead of because it’s expected of them.

To bring the discussion back to divorce and relationships, it’s interesting to note how people pleasers get into a rut in their relationships too and invariably choose to  be in a relationship with somebody who needs taking care of. Caregivers get their ‘fix’ from being needed, and appreciated for their kindness and are so high on this feeling that they don’t notice that they’re being exploited by other people.

“I could take a caregiver and place them in a room with 100 other people and the caregiver will automatically gravitate toward the one person in the room who is screwed up!  It is almost magnetic at times.   A caregiver is always is attracted to defective people and situations. Most of them have had bad relationships in their past and many have been abused either emotionally or physically.  They are hesitant to make any decisions, move forward or try something new because they don’t even trust their own judgment anymore.”


Divorce is a great time to work on yourself and who you are and, in changing yourself, finding a different sort of partner from the one it didn’t work with.

Good luck!