Over the years, I’ve fluctuated between being a people pleaser versus not caring about what others think. Kind of extreme, I know. I guess maybe I was just trying to figure out what worked, and what didn’t. What could I have peace with, and what could I not. Perhaps I even tried to strike a balance between the two extremes over the years? I’m not sure. One relationship where I went to the extreme was with my biological father. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted nothing more than to please him and make him happy to call me “daughter.” I tried to adapt to his “love language” (gifts) and no matter what harsh words were thrown my way, I would always suck it up and stay loyal to him (with the hope that he would one day have warmer thoughts about me as his daughter). However, after many years, I have learned that I cannot base my self-worth on how certain individuals view me.
Sometimes I am strong in this area, and other days I am weak. It is hard to not allow what people say about you impact you, especially when it is people with whom you are trying to build a friendly connection with. Yet I must keep reminding myself that I cannot control the thoughts and actions of others. I will not agree with people on everything. I will never be able to fully make anyone happy, all of the time. There will be times that I let people down, and times when others let me down. That being said, I have developed some “people pleasing” guidelines for myself:
- The #1 person I want to please is God. I do not always stay on this path, but I know it is where I truly must be. If I am living according to His Will and His Word, that is all that truly matters. Yet, I am human and so my desire to make other humans happy does still exist within me (thus #2-3).
- I want my husband to be pleased with how I treat him. This is a challenge because it involves another human being. I’m not naïve; I understand that no two people will ALWAYS get along. But I do want to honor my vows! I try very hard to live in a way that makes my husband proud to call me his wife. I mess up a lot, but nearly (just being real) each day, I genuinely try to honor my husband through my role as his helpmeet. Marriage has been the rawest bond with another person I have ever had. I have seen the best of myself come out, and the worst. This commitment has made me see a reflection in the mirror that I was never forced to view. It is hard. Yet it has been the greatest relationship I ever experienced because I know God designed it. Because of this, I have peace with intentionally trying to please my husband through respecting and honoring him throughout our journey of marriage (and trying again after I have failed).
- I will be a pleasing mother. There is a balance in this area. I am not speaking about pleasing my children by giving them what they want, nor by trying to be their friend. In my opinion, it is my duty to raise them up to be well-rounded adults. I will do this through being their parent, not by trying to be their friend. I will also do this by having established rules and boundaries within our home. In other words, they won’t get whatever they want in life. Part of developing strong character is learning lessons through hardship and struggles, so I will not provide my children with whatever they want in life (and I believe they will see the value of that once they are adults). Nevertheless, I do want to please them. By this I mean that I want to be a positive example of a mother for them; I want to model what it is to be a God-fearing woman, a loving mother, a devoted wife, a loyal friend and an employee with strong work ethic. There will be times when I fail, but I will ask for forgiveness and try again. In this manner, I will try to please my children.
That’s the end of my list – it’s that simple. Ha – no, it’s not THAT simple! There are many other people whom I will interact with throughout life: family members, in-laws, friends, co-workers, associates, neighbors and strangers. Yet at the end of the day, I cannot base my self-worth, my peace, my happiness, my contentment, nor anything else on if I can please those people. I do value many relationships in life; likewise, I have been very hurt by others. I have worked hard to be honest, real, loyal, helpful, and kind to people who in return have been mean, cold, spiteful, dishonest, selfish and full of gossip. This typically leaves me hurt and confused. Thus why I had to develop guidelines on where to draw a line with being a people pleaser. There will be times when I want to shout, “I don’t care what you think! I’m gonna do me!” And there will be times when I try to please someone beyond rationale thinking. I’m not perfect; I’m constantly evolving and growing, yet, I will use these three guidelines as my primary focus to balance the pleasing others and having peace.
Ahmeli… that we would develop healthy boundaries that foster positive interactions.
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