By Cally Logan, Crosswalk.com
The Desire to be Liked
The desire to be well-liked and thought well of is almost always one we readily want, but this aspiration can sometimes grow into people-pleasing. People-pleasing is one where we seek to satisfy others to the point where it becomes unhealthy for us. At times, people-pleasing can truly become crippling, so how do we know how to be good to others without falling into this pit?
More often than not, people-pleasing becomes the result of poor communication. When your voice is silenced, or you choose not to speak up for your preference or what is a healthy choice for yourself, you give your power away and allow others to control you. Their intent might not always be malicious, but if you do not offer good communication, the result can be a consequence of strain on you. Attempting not to people-please doesn't mean you deny every request made of you, but rather that you thoughtfully and prayerfully consider what is being asked of you and then decide whether or not to comply. Establishing good practices in communication is vital to this process so that everyone is aware and assumptions are not made.
Establishing boundaries is a way to avoid and keep from allowing people-pleasing to cripple you. Healthy boundaries are not only respectful to your life but also to those who are asking for your help. They bring about good communication, expectation, and what can actually be performed and provided at that time. We teach people how to treat us, and there is nothing wrong with setting a marker of what you can offer. Those around you may not receive these measures well, but they provide a place where you are not overrun or taken advantage of and where you can have control in your own life.
Feathers Being Ruffled
In efforts to not allow people-pleasing to cripple and control your life, there will sometimes be those who feel frustrated or angered by the boundaries and preferences you are setting in place. Take into consideration with people who are not pleased with your decisions that ultimately you are called to honor what God calls of you, not man. Galatians 1:10 shares, "Am I now trying to win the favor and approval of men, or of God? Or am I seeking to please someone? If I were still trying to be popular with men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ." As followers of Christ, we are called to serve and obey what God is asking of us, not to oblige and comply with every whim of man. This is where we must come before God in asking Him what is for us to take on and assist with and what is not. He will grant us the understanding of what our portion is and what is for someone else to take on. Jeremiah 33:3 reminds us of what He wants to offer to us, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." Invite the Lord into these decisions before giving your answer.
The Lord is a good Father in that He knows what, when, and how much we can handle in a situation and what is for us and what is not. This is where portions come into play. Consider a time where you were given an allotment of food for dinner; perhaps you were given a scoop of ice cream knowing that was what was healthiest and most beneficial for you to take on, but then consider if you were given the entire gallon to consume. It would be too much and likely cause adverse reactions because your body was not meant to take on such a large amount at once. The same goes for what we are called to take on in life, especially in helping others. If you took on the entirety of what was being requested of you, you might also be taking from someone else's portion. God may have a purpose and plan for someone else to step up and work as well in the task given, so it is vital that we invite the Holy Spirit to reveal what is for you and what you need to say no to. It is not selfish to only take what is meant for you; in fact, it is what is right in the eyes of the Lord.
At the end of the day, we are called to answer to the Lord. This does not mean that those who ask things of us will not be annoyed or frustrated when we are not able to assist. In fact, they will likely become aggravated or push harder for you to buckle to the pressure, but remember that it is not your job to save everyone. An empty vessel cannot pour out when nothing is being poured in. Allow yourself to know your limitations and, along with good discernment from the Lord, know when to give a yes, and when to say no. Your time, your efforts, and you are valuable to this world, and you were not placed on this earth to be a doormat for others. Walk-in obedience to the Lord for what He is calling of you, and know that it is for your best and benefit when you take on only what He says is for you to carry.
It is easy to fall into the pit of people-pleasing in efforts to be well-liked, but that does not mean that it is fair or kind to your own life. It is absolutely impossible to please every person in your life, and if you attempt to do so, you will likely find yourself crippled and feeling drained. Allow yourself to take on only what is meant for you and decline what is not. In doing so, you will find freedom.
Photo credit: ©Helena Lopes/Unsplash
Cally Logan is an author and US History teacher from Richmond, Virginia. In her free time, she enjoys mentoring youth and spending time in nature. Her book, Hang on in There, Girl! Will be available everywhere on April 1, 2022. Check her out on Instagram and Twitter, @CallyLogan and TikTok Cally_Logan.