Confessions of a People-Pleaser

No one wants to admit they are a people-pleaser. The hyphenated word brings such negative connotations, like having no spinning platesbackbone, not thinking for yourself, or being a doormat, allowing everyone to walk over you.  But I’m a pretty opinionated person, I think for myself quite well, and don’t bend over and let others walk on me–but I realized I was still trying to please people.

I realized I was living in this state of mind after reading this familiar verse: Gal. 1:10 “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

I had read this verse a hundred times. It’s even underlined in my Bible. Every time I would read it, I would think, “Oh, yeah, those people who try to please others… they have no idea!” and then one day I realized… I’m “those people.”

I think the reason I tend to be a people-pleaser is because my personality type is one that says “people are the priority.” I’m passionate about meeting people, connecting people, watching people figure out who they are, that sometimes I try to control situations where people are present. (which is often in my line of work.) Whether it be a life group I lead, the adult leaders at SWITCH, someone I’m mentoring/counseling–I want so badly for people to be pleased with whatever situation they are in, that inevitably, I become a people-pleaser. The pressure of pleasing people was like spinning hundreds of plates and not letting one of them fall. Why did I feel like I was responsible?

But recently, I realized a simple truth: Making sure people are pleased is not my job!

I’m not in control of their reactions. I can’t sway them one way or the other. If someone doesn’t like the way things are going it’s not my fault–nor should I take it personally, thinking “if I had just done more I could have made them like things”… (All of this makes sense to me in my brain… sorry if you don’t understand, but getting it out is good therapy.)

Realizing this truth has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I would say I probably enjoy my job more because I’ve learned how to just be myself and not worry about trying to control others. I would say I’m becoming more of who I really am, unhindered by the the pressure of trying to please everyone. I’ve been freed, and life on the other side of people-pleasing is pleasantly care-free.

Thanks for letting me talk that out. I feel better now. What about you? Do you find yourself trying to please people? Share your thoughts.

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