Those of us who are “people pleasers” as the result of childhood abuse and/or domestic violence have our reasons. Deprived of affection, we long for acceptance. Often cruelly punished when we did not conform to the expectations of others, we fear rejection.
Saying “no” to a request is difficult for us. Putting boundaries in place, since it was never allowed, feels foreign and selfish. We may even have been taught that it was “unchristian”.
Unfortunately, “people pleasing” behavior is not productive in the long run. It is likely to leave us overworked and overwhelmed – often angry with ourselves for having failed to speak out. Over time, we can lose sight of who we really are.
Inauthenticity drains the joy from living. How then do we change this behavior?
Removing the Mask
Slowly, we must begin to reveal our true feelings, to remove the mask hiding our genuine selves. This will not be an easy process. It may result in some rejection by others. But rejection is no longer as dangerous as it once was for us. We can now stand on our own two feet.
Gradually, we must learn to set healthy boundaries. This is a matter of self-protection.
Anger and Conflict
Ultimately, we must learn to deal with anger and conflict. This will take courage. As children, our very lives may have depended on avoiding (or placating) the anger of the adults around us. But we are no longer children.
God’s Approval v. Man’s Approval
“The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe” (Prov. 29: 25).
The risk in trying to please man is that we may not be pleasing God (Gal. 1: 10). It is, after all, God who sees our hearts (1 Thess. 2: 4).
Part 1 in this series was posted last week.
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