- Someone who says yes, even when their mind says no.
- Someone who is devastated when they think someone doesn’t like them.
- Someone who cringes at the first sign of friction.
- Someone who loses sleep over the slightest altercation with another.
- Someone who feels out of control when they think another human being may disagree with what they’re doing.
If you’re a people pleaser like me I’m sure you can relate to Eric’s descriptions. That’s why I’ve rounded up some advice – to help us learn how to break free from our bad habit. Here it is:
Advice for People Pleasers
1. Don’t let everyone else plan your life for you.
One of the hazards of being a compliant, people-pleasing middle child is that I always did what everyone expected me to do. Fast forward to adulthood, and I still do what’s expected of me.
This hurts my ministry. Why? Because no one is expecting me to write another Bible study or submit a magazine article or turn my questions into a book.
And so I just sit here waiting for a publisher to call me and say, Hey, I heard you write about the renewing of the mind. Would you like to write a book for us?
And no, they’re not calling. If I want to fulfill God’s calling on my life, I’m going to have to start planning my own life with His help.
2. Realize that the word NO is an option.
This is brilliant. It honestly never even entered my mind in the old days that “no” was a possible response when someone asked me to do something. I always said yes. My people pleasing was so bad that we left one church primarily because I was a piano player and didn’t want to keep playing the piano. And it was easier to leave than say no.
3. Never say yes right away.
Instead say, “Let me think about it,” and then get back to them after you’ve had at least one night to sleep off the “I can’t wait to make this person happy” hysteria from your eyes.
4. Realize that you can’t be everything to everybody.
This was a shocking bit of news. What? I can’t make everyone happy? But of course it’s true. Not only can I not make everyone happy, God doesn’t even want me to make everyone happy! He just wants me to do His will – and His will sometimes makes people unhappy, including me.
5. Ask God where He wants you to spend your time.
Every time we say yes to one person or project, we say no to another. Often we say yes to the critical, demanding people in our lives and no to the non-demanding people. Or we say yes to the easy projects and no to the hard ones.
God doesn’t want us to base our decisions on what’s easy or comfortable. He wants us to base our decisions on His will – and sometimes His will takes us down paths that are anything but easy or comfortable.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that we can’t please everyone. Someone somewhere will always think we’re doing the wrong thing. That’s a fact of life. The sooner we accept it the better.
Our best hope for peace and happiness is to please God, not man. And you know what the wonderful thing about God is? He’s a God of mercy and grace. He sees our hearts. So even when we mess up, He’s there, ready to forgive.
Isn’t He the best one to please?
Question: Are you a people pleaser? If so, how does it affect your life and ministry?
P.S. I wrote this blog post a year ago and never posted it because of one of my other little problems (perfectionism). I’m happy to see that I’ve been making progress. I even published I Deserve a Donut (And Other Lies That Make You Eat) without a publisher calling and telling me to do it!