9 Sad Signs You’re Trying Too Hard (+ How To Stop)

Few things put other people off more than someone who tries too hard. It sends all the wrong signals about the kind of person you are and how you interact with the world.

A person who is trying too hard can be interpreted as dishonest and untrustworthy. It’s hard to tell if they will tell you the whole, unflattering truth or if they will lie to obscure it.

That’s not the type of person you want to have around you when you’re trying to confront life’s challenges.

People who try too hard can be questionable friends or relationship partners because what happens when things don’t live up to their expectations?

Do they have your back, or do they disappear, so your troubles don’t reflect on them?

Do they respect boundaries?

Do they understand that they are not entitled to anything just because they put forth a lot of effort that no one asked them for?

There are so many uncertainties that people will often just take a step back and away from those they perceive to be high-maintenance friends.

Trying too hard can completely undermine your attempts at forging meaningful relationships with other people. It’s a behavior that needs to change.

And the first step toward that change is identifying areas for improvement.

What kind of signs should you look for that you are trying too hard?

1. You are always agreeable.

Being agreeable isn’t the positive thing that it seems like, though sometimes it may feel necessary.

Sometimes you might have a boss who can’t take constructive criticism or only wants to see things done their way, so you have to be agreeable just to not cause too many waves at work.

On the other hand, being agreeable in your personal life prevents you from building meaningful relationships when you’re not in agreement.

The kind of people that you want to have as associates, friends, or a significant other need to know who you are as a person. Reasonable, healthy people that you want to be around won’t expect you to be perfect or agree with them all the time.

Life would be very dull if we all agreed with each other all the time.

Just remember that it’s okay to have boundaries and disagree with others!

It’s also okay not to think of every connection you make as something that will be long-lasting. Some people are just there for us to temporarily encounter before moving forward in life, so there’s no need to please everybody all of the time.

2. You post on social media relentlessly.

Social media is basically a showcase of people trying too hard.

There’s nothing wrong with posting about something you’re proud of, sharing a picture or two, or keeping up with friends.

It crosses into unhealthy territory when you become obsessed with crafting the perfect image to display to the world via social media.

It’s posting pictures every day about how wonderful your life and relationship is, peppered with hashtags to demonstrate how good life is for you.

And the unfortunate part for the people who do try too hard on social media is that they don’t realize that it is effortless to see through.

Happy people who are satisfied with their life or relationship generally aren’t spending the time to craft a narrative and providing evidence that they are happy. They’re off living their life! Doing things! Enjoying their time with their loved ones!

The easiest way to counter this type of behavior is to cut back on social media use. It’s not necessary to post multiple times a day, or even every day for that matter.

If you’re incredibly proud of something, then, by all means, share it, but you’re likely not going to have a lot of things to be incredibly proud of. Those things tend to come and go every once in a while.

3. You always need external validation.

The need for constant praise and external validation typically comes from low self-esteem.

Sure, it feels good to be acknowledged for accomplishing a goal or a challenging task! But the person who is trying too hard often sees that filter down into more mundane parts of their life.

A typical example is people fishing for compliments about “adulting.” Okay, you went to work, and you paid your bills. Well done! But that’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s how you build the kind of life that you want. Do you want some sort of medal for it?

The constant need for praise and external validation may point to deeper issues that need to be addressed. It’s not unusual for people who grew up in abusive homes to have these kinds of problems.

If you feel an excessive need for validation, it would be a good idea to talk to a certified mental health professional about it.

4. You don’t honestly represent yourself.

Are you honest about who you are? Or do you feel like you need to make things up to be seen as a valued or valuable person?

Maybe it’s telling little white lies to make your life seem better than it is. Or maybe it’s more severe, and the lies are much, much bigger and even nonsensical when you look back on them.

People will generally accept a little light embellishment on a story to make it better or funny. They won’t accept a vast, unverifiable claim that doesn’t seem likely to be true at all.

They may smile and nod at the anecdote, but they will eventually start picking up when the facts don’t quite align in the claimed way.

The big lies that people tell to obscure themselves can come from a lot of different places. This is a problem that is likely going to need to be sorted out with the help of a mental health professional because it really depends on why you feel the need to lie in the first place.

Address this issue as early as possible. The habit of dishonestly representing yourself is a hard one to break without effort and time.

5. You use money to demonstrate your worth.

There’s nothing wrong with buying nice things because you want and can afford nice things.

The people who are trying too hard tend to take this to an extreme, though.

They often want to be seen as having more than what they actually have, so they get into debt to buy those nice things or spend what they can’t afford.

They may want to impress others or feel like their self-worth is tied up in what they can earn and afford.

The reality is that quality, healthy people don’t care about those things.

You can be a jerk and drive a nice car. All you end up doing is appealing to other jerks and people envious of what you have. And neither of those demographics are people that you want around you.

Live within your means and don’t spend what you can’t afford. Really consider who it is you’re trying to impress by spending that money. Are you doing it just because it makes you happy? Or are you hoping for attention from others?

6. You treat everything as a competition.

The game of one-upmanship gets really old, really quickly.

It doesn’t matter how good a story you have to tell; the competitor always has a better story.

It doesn’t matter how good a job you do; the competitor needs to tell you how they have done it better.

If you have a funny anecdote, they have a funnier anecdote.

If you have the attention of other people, they need to get that attention for themselves.

It’s exhausting to keep up with, and people will usually choose not to. Instead, they will create more distance to avoid dealing with that constant competition that the one-upper feels like they are.

It’s a behavior that broadcasts insecurity and tells other people to stay away.

This is another kind of problem that requires the help of a mental health professional. This kind of behavior and insecurity often points to deeper issues that need to be addressed so that healing is possible.

In the meantime, an easy way to get around this problem is to learn to simply be quiet about your own accomplishments and encourage others with theirs. Enjoy the laugh, the goal accomplished, or whatever it is they chose to share with you.

7. You do outlandish things for the attention.

Outlandish attention-seeking behavior certainly can draw a lot of attention to the person who’s trying too hard, but it usually isn’t the good kind.

This is the kind of behavior where people do foolish things or put themselves in dangerous situations to gain attention.

This is the person who does things like try to dive into a swimming pole off of a balcony, dress provocatively in unusual settings, or go overboard in trying to demonstrate their quirkiness. This may also be the person who does excessive drugs or drinks way too much alcohol.

There’s nothing wrong with being a unique person or having a good time. It’s all about why you’re doing it and whether or not you’re doing it safely.

If you’re doing it safely and no one is getting hurt, then great. But hey, diving off that balcony may seem like a great idea at the time, but there are plenty of paralyzed people out there who regret acting that unsafely.

8. You are regularly envious of other people.

Envy is a difficult thing to overcome because it requires you to find peace with yourself.

There are times when we are far too focused on what other people are doing, what they have, and what we want.

Is it a relationship? A fancy car? A job that earns a lot? Anything that seems like it might not be what they deserve?

Well, we don’t live in a just world. We live in a world where innocent people suffer all the time for no reason at all. Bad people are often rewarded for doing bad things. Good people can get stepped on and over.

And frankly, none of it matters all that much.

You can spend your time angry and envious at people who have it easier or better than you, but it’s not going to do anything to make your life any better.

All you’re going to do is waste a lot of valuable, limited emotional energy.

If you have time and energy to be envious, then you have time and energy to improve your own situation.

Don’t spend so much time looking at others and what they have. Focus more on being grateful for what you do have and ways to improve your own lot in life.

9. You won’t ask for help, even if you need it.

People who try too hard are often stubborn. And dealing with stubborn people is always a challenge because they typically have a difficult time compromising and working with a group if they aren’t the ones in charge.

No one wants to deal with that if they don’t have to.

They may feel like the world will fall apart if they aren’t the driving force behind making everything happen. In reality, most things will work out, one way or another.

The person who is trying too hard to be controlling or set in their ways may do that for reasons like anxiety, insecurity, or poor self-image. It’s easier to be stubborn than it is to accept that they might be wrong or might not be in control of themselves.

And that extends to needlessly suffering because you need help but refuse to accept any of it.

The Bottom Line

Do these reasons seem harsh to you? They might. They seem harsh because few people are willing to be honest with people who try too hard.

The bottom line is that trying too hard is a behavior that is incredibly easy to see and is often viewed as a serious red flag.

People politely smile when they experience it and back away quickly because they know there’s dishonesty afoot.

The fact of the matter is that behavior tied to such poor self-image and trying too hard is often rooted in complicated, painful things that no internet article is going to be able to meaningfully help you with.

If this is a behavior that you identify with, do seek help from a certified mental health professional to really explore what’s going on with you and why you’re doing what you do.

This is something that you can heal from and overcome, but it will take time and effort to get there.

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