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George Hartwell M.Sc.

George Hartwell M.Sc. holds a Masters of Science in clinical psychology which included training in Marriage counselling . counseling, therapy, counselor, counsellor

His empathy and discernment in marriage counselling has been sharpened by over 30 years experience.
More about George: About Us

How others benefited from Marriage counselling sessions with George: testimonies.

People Pleaser, and Losing out on love

By George Hartwell M.Sc.

My childhood family had a culture and rules that reinforced people pleasingJohn and Paula Sandford call this Performance Orientation.

Both mom and dad lived out some of the principles of people pleasing.  They had Performance Orientation.

For example, dad judged his worth by how well his children were doing. 

Mother came from Iowa, where certain values were agreed on by all: attend church, don't drink and don't swear.  The religious culture meant  be nice and not disagreeable.  As Mom would say: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

What is wrong with being nice.  How can being good be bad.  Is there something unhealthy about the 'religious' values of this community.  Don't we all want to go back to the "Father knows best" life style?

People with a clear sense of identity, boundaries, passion and goals do offend people.  For example, Jesus offended people.  He knew who he was and who he represented and did not back down.

I learned to sacrifice my identity and my passion.  We lived by mom's motto of "Peace at any price."  Although it was unspoken mom also enforced a code of behavior of not sharing personal issues, of not expressing anger, of non-contact among syblings.

And what was the price of all this?   What harm came from always looking so goodExplore this with me.

When I sacrificed being real, open, direct, personal, passionate, aggressive and expressive in order to gain my mom's approval, what happened to me? 

I lost some things that are priceless to me and that make it difficult for me to be a loving man and a courageous man of God.

  1.  I gave up my Real identity and substituted 'good boy' and 'Mr. Nice Guy' personality.  A priceless loss.
  2. I shut down the possibility of love, bonding and adult intimacy because I gave up being real and expressing my emotions.
  3. I lost my masculinity, my masculine will, my backbone.  As a result I would not be with protecting me loved ones and fighting injustice.
  4. I lost the ability to think clearly.  Confused about my identity, my thinking became confused.
  5. With the loss of aggression I lost the energy and motivation to accomplish my goals with passion; that the expression of anger was at times helpful.
  6. I became indecisive; had trouble making decisions and was slow in making decisions.
  7. I lost the ability to lead or to speak with authority.
  8. I lost the expectation that there would be people to love me, that conflicts could be resolved, that people would acknowledge how I felt.

I was over 30 when John and Paula Sandford taught me about Performance Orientation.  Recognizing myself, I prayed with my pastor; confessed the sinful identity and asked Jesus to transform my life.

My life as a people pleaser experienced some instant change and some ongoing changes.  I now entered a process of reclaiming my identity as a spontaneous, creative, clear thinking (and sometimes angry) child of God.

It is hard to believe and hard to explain that being a people pleaser had ruined my love life, damaged my career and fueled an unconscious rebellion against God. 

My people pleasing trained me to behave by a set of rules of right and wrong.  This put me out of touch with my feelings and my inner self.

Putting on a phony role of "good boy who follows the rules and does what is expected" resulted in a gradual but profound loss of my true identity.  Being out of touch with my inner core, I failed to develop my own tastes, speak with my own voice or take the risk of expressiveness, love and being creative.

While I was a people pleaser, I gradually ruined my ability to think clearly for myself; my judgment became impaired; I became a slow and plodding decision-maker.  In part this is because, as a people pleaser, I was committed to conflict avoidance.  In order to avoid conflict my subconscious mind automatically screened and suppressed all information that might be controversial or lead to conflict. 

Procrastination was fueled by my need to be perfect.  People-pleasers don't want to make a mistake. 

It has been many years since I first heard about Performance Orientation and took it to God in prayer.  Gradually I have reclaimed a sense of who I am and what I like.  I am learning to love, to be creative, to express myself and think for myself.  I am sure this all delights God who wants me to be free to develop into a mature son through experiencing life and learning to listen myself, to him and to others. 


Follow Report on George's Performance Orientation and People Pleasing - a testimony to new Freedom

Today I received beautiful affirmation from Sharon - my life partner and love.  She said  "..you know..you are one of the least performance oriented people I know (as you are now anyway)... I respect you and anyone with good confidence in their own identity would recognize this about you.

"How do you see that in me showing up?"  I ask.

She adds: "You don't seem to fuss about with small things...(Most times. I am not saying you are perfect..but you're not at odds with your choices.)  For example...you don't worry about the state of your writing..you JUST do it, and edit later. And dinner, you didn't worry about it..you just said "it's like cardboard" and didn't fuss about it...or complain. You didn't make me feel like it was my fault or shift blame. And you apologize when you recognize a mistake you've made.

You can explain why things happen ...like why they behave the way they do.

And you don't always "blame" evil or the devil.

You are far more empathetic with (innocent ex-wife who will not be named) then I am....I do feel like giving her a smack down with my words.

You are direct...and don't mince words...I don't think it worries me if you are wrong. I would rather a person speak honestly even if i disagree with them, then NOT speak at all.

Not speaking at all....now THAT would drive me nuts....and drive me into a state of anger.

You are far more empathetic with (innocent ex-wife who will not be named) then I am....I do feel like giving her a smack downwith my words

You are direct...and don't mince words...I don't think it worries me if you are wrong. I would rather a person speak honestly even if i disagree with them, then NOT speak at all.

Not speaking at all....now THAT would drive me nuts....and drive me into a state of anger.

I know you are not perfect..In fact, it is because you are not (or try to be perfect) that infuses the respect i have.

Passive aggression is the worst type of aggression of all.

Better to admit who we are...admit the mistakes and bare our scars then to try and fit someone else's idea of right or wrong. You don't seem to try and do that too much.

Thanks for the feedback from Sharon.












The People Pleasing Theme:

You are here:
People Pleasing and Love Addiction - "Why the pattern operates like an addiction.'


People Pleasing and losing out on love - George's own story


People Pleasing - The Program and the Pit


People Pleasing - a sacrifice for love 'People pleasers sell their soul to hold on to love.'


More Articles


Office is 1454 Dundas St. East in Mississauga, Suite 125.  Main intersection: Dundas and Dixie.

Intensive marriage counselling involves 3 hour sessions at my office.  A week of three hour sessions can provide original insights, solutions and relationship healing.  (Called a mini-retreat.)

PHONE:     Marriage and family counselling Within the GTA - Greater Toronto Area - Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton and Oakville:
    (416) 234-1850

 e-mail G Hartwell


Fee for a marriage and family counselling session is $100 per hour.  family marital therapy counseling

He provides marriage counselling, couples counseling, family, marital and premarital therapy.'



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(416) 234-1850 for local calls in Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville or Brampton.
 E-mail to G Hartwell,.

E-mail: e-mail G Hartwell

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