I remember the first time someone suggested that I was a people pleaser. I snickered and thought, “you don’t know me very well, I am a tough cookie”. But honestly, just them posing the question, and of course me trying to prove that I wasn’t, helped me to begin to realize the tendencies that I had toward pleasing others over myself.
I thought of the term as derogatory but it’s just a description of a characteristic; not necessarily a bad characteristic, but a characteristic that I would let get a little out of hand. Learning to find balance was important because pleasing other people is not bad, but sacrificing your wants and needs in the process, that is not healthy. On the flip side, sacrificing of oneself, is also not bad, as long as you are sacrificing because you want to, and not out of some sense of obligation.
Our characteristics have the potential to be good (healthy) or bad (unhealthy) it just takes a twist of our thinking to keep them in check. I had to get honest with myself, and really examine my motives. People hardly ever examine their motives, probably because that entails getting honest with one’s self. This was a hard one. I enjoy helping people, it’s who I am, but, I will do some things out of a sense of obligation because for some reason I think I have to, it’s my obligation or responsibility. I’m learning to be very careful, and not make my life crazy in order to help someone else.
I used to worry about what other people thought of me, and made decisions, almost subconsciously, based on their opinions. There were times that I didn’t want to show my true self, in case they didn’t like me, times that I did things to get the approval of others and times that I had this false sense of obligation. I had to learn to decipher each of these and figure out what I wanted to keep, and what just wasn’t making me feel good. Those things that weren’t making me feel good had to go.
As I grew closer to God, and my time spent with Him became more important to me. I began to “get it”. I wasn’t going to please everyone. I know, what a concept! The most important thing was my relationship with God. If He accepted me with open arms just as I was, and loved me just as I was, why on earth did I worry about what certain people thought? Why did I not want them to be “mad or disappointed”? I needed to understand, really understand that I was ok, even if someone else thought differently. So what helped the most?
- Be honest – I have a group of friends that I can share honestly with and receive no judgment, and no advice either. They just listen, sometimes they would share what worked for them in a similar situation but always allow you to figure out your own answers. Did I say no judgement? It’s very important when your listening to someone to actually listen and love them right where they’re at. That’s what Jesus did, loved people even while they were sinners, He didn’t come to judge He came to save and much of the time while He was spending time with other’s He listened, cared for them and helped them to understand themselves.
- Be careful – It’s was important that while I was trying to figure out how to find balance that I didn’t go too far in the other direction, the direction of self centeredness, not considering the feelings and desires of other people. I wanted to be kind and be true to my nature, just not feel obligated.
- Examine my motives-I would ask myself, “what was I going to get out of this and did I have an ulterior motive for taking on this task? Was I trying to get my way or influence some situation? (Manipulating) This is part of learning to be honest with yourself!
- Learn to say “no”- This is a biggy! I still have to work on this daily but I started out with small requests. I didn’t die when I said no, and the other person lived too! And they usually figured it out without my help! We both survived.
- Not get mad – What did I want? Was I doing this “For Fun and For Free”? Translation…Was I expecting something in return, or worse, expecting something and just assuming that the person would know instinctively that they “owed” me? I mean of course if I wanted to help them they would for sure want to help me~!
I’m a work in progress and it took me testing the waters to get stronger at figuring out what I wanted. It took understanding that God loves me with all my flaws, and he does! I know this because the Bible tells me so 🙂 So, I’m good! Roman’s 5:8 – But God shows his own love for us in this: That while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I’m careful today and I try to instill in my daughter’s the ability to choose without worrying about what others will think…including me. That’s a hard one because I don’t always agree and but I’m learning that they get to choose.