January 15, 2013

A People Pleaser's Plea

I am convinced I came out of my mother's womb wanting to please people. Somehow my little, baby brain knew if I entered this world sucking my thumb, it would generate exaggerated awes and sappy tears. Unfortunately, almost 24 years later, sticking my thumb in my mouth just doesn't have the same effect.

People pleasing became a lot more difficult. Constantly striving to do so became exhausting.

However, I think I speak for most "people pleasers" when I say that the coined term is a bit of an understatement. It's more than just not wanting to displease someone, it's about not wanting to hurt them. The inner turmoil I experience when deciding if I should tell someone my honest opinion about what I think of their outfit is the same inner turmoil I experience when deciding if I should tell someone my honest opinion about what I think of their life choices. The first is of less importance than the other in the grand scheme of things (unless you're Barbie), but in either situation, I am capable of hurting someone.

Who really wants to hurt people they care about deeply? Why wouldn't I want to avoid doing so, if I can? These are questions I am constantly bombarded with in pretty much every situation involving my opinion and others, yet, I admire people who freely give their opinions. I'm not saying people who voice their opinions are inconsiderate of other people's feelings, but they seem to have a balance I am only beginning to find. I've wrestled with this before God, asking for discernment on how to find the balance of being considerate without losing my own self in the process.

However, as much as I need to work on finding a balance, I believe those who know me as a people pleaser need to find it, as well.

As many times as I've heard statements like, "you will never be able to please everyone," "you're not perfect, so you will hurt others," and "you need to do what's best for you," I've realized very few people actually mean what they say. People get used to the people pleasers in their lives, and they appreciate them more than they realize. So when the advice they give involves their people pleasing friends applying it to situations leaving them displeased or hurt, they either respond negatively or don't know how to respond at all. In return the people pleasers who finally feel like they've gotten a hold on their people pleasing ways are left feeling guilty from the ones who gave them the advice in the first place.

Confused? You're telling me!

I realize how frustrating we people pleasers can be, but here is my plea:

If we are expected to stop "worrying so much" and stop "trying so hard to please everyone," we need the people in our lives to start letting us live this way. If we are to accept the fact that we may hurt people now and again, we need the people in our lives to accept the fact that we may end up hurting them now and again.

I realize I may have made people pleasing sound like some disease. Though it's not that serious, this part of me does play a huge role in my daily decisions and interactions, and I consider this post a step in the right direction for myself.

And yes, the people pleaser inside is telling me to delete this...just in case you were wondering.

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