Raise your hand if you’re guilty of obsessively trying to people-please?
wired to people please.
Wired with perfectionism.
And being wired in this way ultimately makes me wired to…fail?!
Sounds pretty pessimistic, I know. The only thing that seems to be able to pull me out of these negative (and EXTREMELY) unhealthy thought processes and the actions which trap me into the cycle of people-pleasing is to ask myself: Who am I trying to please?!
At the end of the day, it is absolutely impossible to please other human beings. Oh, you might temporarily please them or, at the very least, appease them, but you will NEVER be able to please them 100% of the time. Nor can you please EVERYONE all of the time. Just take my word for it – I spent a decade of my life trying to please everyone around me and it very nearly killed me.
There’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer to the question, “Who are you trying to please?” There’s no reason to feel guilt over whatever your answer may be (or not be). The question is simply one that is meant to prompt self reflection and interrupt spiraling thought processes.
For me, I know very well what I WANT my answer to be. If I’m being honest, it is very rarely what I wish it would be and what I know it should be. By asking myself who it is I am trying to please, I am better able to bring my worn down heart back home – home to Jesus. Because God is the ONLY one I should be trying to please.
It’s so easy to let that specific answer (the God answer) fall to the wayside. You see, I KNOW God loves me unconditionally. I know He died for me, forgives me, fights for me. I know that no matter how far I stray, that He will always welcome me back with open arms and a warm embrace. So, knowing all of that, it seems easy to get comfortable having “lazy faith” – something to rely on when life isn’t going so great. It’s easy to lose focus of the goal of eternity and be consumed by worldly goals, deadlines, and the expectations of others. After all, if we know and believe these things about God, what’s the harm in trying to please those around us as well?
The problem is that these people we might be trying to please can NEVER, no matter how much they might love us, offer us anything that is unconditional, regardless of how hard they might try. The attempt to people please turns the individuals around us into idols, allowing them to dictate our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and decide our good days and our bad days. People please makes joy and peace conditional on things which are ultimately out of our control. But our relationship with God is completely within our control.
I say all of this knowing that within this very hour I will probably make an attempt at people pleasing. I’m wired that way, which is not a good excuse, but it’s important to acknowledge our tendencies as human beings. If you make the effort to ask yourself the question, “Who am I trying to please?” and to answer it HONESTLY many times throughout the day, chances are that you may discover answers you don’t like and that you’re not proud of.
After all of this…what’s the quick fix? What pill can we take? Which magic wand do we wave? Where is the shut-down button for people pleasing? Sadly, there isn’t one. All I have to offer you is what I’ve been (trying to) do to help reduce my people pleasing tendencies:
(1.) First and foremost, start by asking yourself the question, “Who am I trying to please?” Be determined to answer it HONESTLY.
(2.) Pray. Talk to God about it. Ask for His help and guidance.
(3.) Don’t become complacent in your faith. Refuse to get comfortable. Don’t ever let the majesty and the sacrifice of our Lord lose it’s wonder. If talking of God’s love for you doesn’t get you excited then I don’t know what possibly could. Get excited about that One unconditional love in your life! Don’t ever allow that flame to burn out and be replaces by human idols.
People pleasing causes so much hurt. It’s an attempt to fix things, control things, make others happy and sometimes it works – on occasion you can please someone momentarily, but it rarely lasts. People pleasing is exhausting and it’s a never ending task. Give up that job – you and I both have enough stress in our lives whether it’s school/student related, job related, or whatever you may be facing on a daily basis. You don’t need another full time job (that doesn’t even pay at all!) Give it up to Jesus and never quit asking yourself “Who am I trying to please?!”
“Because here’s the thing: You are NOT what others think you are. You are what God KNOWS you are!”
“I finally know the difference between pleasing and loving, obeying and respecting. It has taken me so many years to be okay with being different, and with being this alive, this intense. (xxvi)”
― Eve Ensler, I am an Emotional Creature