Pleased vs. Complacent. While some people are naturally more resilient than others, resiliency can also be intentionally developed.


Resilience is the ability to cope well with difficulties and to bounce back from setbacks.

While some people are naturally more resilient than others, resiliency can also be intentionally developed.

Feeling Pleased vs. Complacent

I’ve never known human change to go in a straight line. Human change zigzags, it has stops and starts and unexpected curves.  I think most people would agree. And, most of us will still get frustrated (at least sometimes) with this indirect route.

This particular tip is not about our increased desire for the instantaneous (for another forum). This particular tip is about our resistance to self-acknowledgement and recognition while on the circuitous path of change. It is about our hesitancy to give ourselves the figurative and literal pat on the back when we have a gain in a desired direction, possibly with a reversion or stall in another area of our lives.

Organizational studies suggest that one of the things employees most desire and least feel is acknowledgement, recognition for effort and work well done.  People will grumble about their boss not addressing this important issue. And yet we are often similarly neglectful in the way we relate to ourselves.

People will often tell me: But why should I congratulate myself on losing one kilo when I want to lose 10 kilo? Or on cleaning one pile when most of my desk is still a mess? Or on staying calm during the week only to blow up at my kids once again over the weekend? Or on finally focusing sufficiently to meet a critical deadline while being late on a smaller project? I suggest we can, and should, be pleased with our accomplishments; and that this is distinct from being complacent regarding the continued progress we wish and intend to make.

Pleased suggests receiving pleasure or satisfaction, as in with a step we have taken. If we have succeeded in our efforts to take a step on the rocky road of human change – Great! Cool! Good on you! Encouragement will do wonders for our morale and confidence as we trepidatious-ly maneuver along our journey. Complacent suggests satisfaction with our situation, accompanied by unawareness of potential for continued progress. When we are complacent we tend to rest on our laurels, we stop our journey, we feel we are done. Complacency is being content with where we are and willing to stay there.

For added resilience on the challenging road of human change, allow yourself to be pleased with your progress, recognizing that pleased is not equal to being complacent. Human change mainly happens in steps. Giving yourself encouragement, a pat on the back for steps successfully taken, will help motivate you toward continued steps toward your ultimate goal.

Carolyn S. Tal, PhD

Psychologist and Consultant - working with individuals, couples, and business partners


(Please contact me if you would like to have these tips sent directly to your e-mail.