I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man’s actions but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner. …I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life — namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.
The fear of pleasing people is that when you don’t, you’ll somehow die or jump off the stairs or spontaneously explode. It feels like death. But if you think it through to the logical end, there isn’t some terrible consequence if you don’t make people happy. They shrug and move on. The sky doesn’t fall. Your world keeps going. It’s okay to say no. Those magnified fears are unfounded, and you are free to be the person that others would already be happy with if you weren’t trying so hard to please them.