People Pleaser

On the people pleaser scale of 1-10, I’d place my own dot on the “9” spot.  People pleasing is deeply ingrained in my habits as well as my personality type.   My entire life I’ve wanted others to like me.  I cared about what they thought.  I attempted to meet their expectations.  I wanted to be perceived as nice. I wanted to be accepted. 

I agreed with the person sitting on my left.  I concurred with the person sitting on my right.  Bucking the waves was never my style.  I refrained from rocking the boat.  I’m a peace maker.  I don’t like confrontation and I want everyone to be happy and get along.

Over the years I’ve improved and grown stronger.  But on a recent vacation I realized those tendencies still existed.  In boarding my Southwest flight, the staff set up the scanner so each passenger placed their own ticket under the machine.  Several were having difficulty aligning their paper to the correct spot.  Immediately, I wanted to get it right and make the attendant happy.  I was rewarded as he looked at me and said, “Perfect.”  I became the Pillsbury doughboy and smiled all the way down the ramp.  What?  It was simply checking in for a flight.  Why did I feel the need to do it right or make anyone happy?

It was time to put back into check my people-pleasing tendencies and re-study how to break out of that box.  If you struggle with this, here are some tips I’ve learned that might help: 

  • Understand that your self-worth does not come from the approval of others
  • Know that you can’t control what others think about you
  • Discern the difference between pleasing and wanting to help
  • Decide what you want to do and learn it’s okay to say, “no”
  • Recognize that people don’t think about you or care as much as you think they do
  • Realize that you can’t please everyone 

God created you to be just who you are chock-full of gifts and talents.  While we are commanded to be compassionate, caring, and loving toward others, nowhere in the Bible does it state that we must be a doormat or spend most of our waking hours scrambling around pleasing others.  We should maintain enough self-awareness so that we realize when we’re being a "pleaser" and put the brakes on it.  Eventually, it will become a habit that we can control and make decisions that are in the best interest of ourselves and others.  It’s not about sacrifice or dominance, but about balance. 

Where is your dot on the people pleaser scale?


About Shelley Pulliam   Read more by this author...

Howdy! (A girl from Oklahoma has to use this as her greeting) I’m Shelley Pulliam, executive director of Arise Ministries and former teacher of hormone-filled 8th graders. But my real claim to fame rests in my award as second grade spelling bee champ and my recent gun-handling skills as I train to competition shoot. It helps me be on guard when Satan comes knocking. I’m a voracious reader and can frequently be found at the theater enjoying movie marathons where my record stands at 6 in one day. I’m a single, never married, who loves to pour into children at every opportunity. Let me know if you have any for sale. You can connect with me at shelleypulliam.com.

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