Goodbye to People-Pleasing


 

When someone you care about such as your child, friend or spouse fails in some way, who do you hold responsible? Do you help them realize that they are accountable for their action or lack of it? Or do you blame yourself for their failure and then clean up their mess?

God does not clean up our messes. He gave Adam and Eve specific responsibilities and clear instructions. He told them what would be healthy and what would be destructive. When they disregarded their responsibilities and disobeyed his instructions, he did not blame himself. He did not say, “Oh, I’m a bad parent; I must have done something wrong”. He did not say, “Oh, I’m a poor gardener; I must have made a mistake”.

He held Adam and Eve accountable for their decisions and actions. Unlike God, some of us get confused about responsibility. Instead of holding others responsible for their destructive actions, we blame ourselves. We are overly dependent on their opinions, think we can’t survive if they don’t like us, and become so busy making them happy that we neglect our own responsibilities and growth. In doing so, we harm both ourselves and others.

Why do we do this? in his book, When Pleasing You Is Killing Me, Dr. Les Carter identifies unhealthy pride as the root cause of such behavior. He says that failing to confront others is a common practice of people pleasers. I’ve been reading his book during the last few weeks, and I’ve found myself in its pages. Recognizing and admitting to that root of pride brought me relief. It’s the bit of knowledge I needed to have in order to say a firmer goodbye to people-pleasing.

God has been giving me an increased understanding of what responsibility means over the years. This is an early poem.

 RESPONSIBILITY
  
 I hated them without a cause 
 Because they chose to be;
 I hid behind a mask of fear
 And told myself I could not be.
  
 Someone-out-there made me freeze in fear
 And kept me from moving ahead
 Someone-out-there spoke the words 
 I heard inside my head. 
  
 And all the time it was really me
 Intimidating myself;
 I chose to suffer and to lose—
 To hide my wealth and ruin my health;
  
 I chose to think that I was bad,
 That I did not belong;
 I chose rejection, fear, and pain
 I chose to sing it as my song.
  
 I chose it even when I learned
 God forgives our sin.
 I chose to fear what “they” would think
 Instead of trusting him;
  
 But I Could Choose Again.
  
 I could decide to live in faith,
 I could decide to grow
 To give up fear and suffering
 I could decide, I know.
  
 What will I choose? Where will I go?
 Where will my thoughts abide?
 I want to love; I want to risk.
 Shall I, again, run and hide?
  
 Now fear thrives in the dark,
 It cannot handle light.
 If I remain close to the SON 
 I’ll have good judgment and more might
  
 More courage and more confidence,
 Some hope to balance doubt
 Great joy will come to me 
 As I, in faith, step out. 
  
 Responsibility That's What My Life's About.
  
  Jane Ault 
 

8 thoughts on “Goodbye to People-Pleasing

  1. There is so much freedom in knowing there is only One we have to be concerned about pleasing. He has such a beautiful way of healing our perspective. Thank you, Jane.

    • Yes, Donna, pleasing the One who is invisible rather than those who are visible is the essence of faith. To stay focused on Jesus brings freedom, indeed. Thanks for your comment.

  2. yes, Jane I have also been lost in the “pleasing game”. It is a lonely place. Hard to rise up and leave that behind. God has taught me through His loving grace to be more gentle in speech . Because at first when I recognized this problem, my reaction was to come down too hard…I have now realized.. think ..then speak.

    • Genie, I can relate to your statement about the “pleasing game” being a lonely place. Very true. Thanks for sharing something of your experience and your insight.

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