I had a great comment on Facebook yesterday asking about the problem of people pleasing. If you have trouble pleasing everyone in your life, let me start by letting you ponder this: not everyone feels this way. There are truly loving and kind people who do not feel bad when they can’t please everyone. So, when you realize that not everyone feels this way, you have to ask yourself, “What is going on here? Why am I feeling this way anyway?”
When you feel like you just can’t please everyone, the root of your problem may be that you think that you are supposed to be pleasing everyone, or anyone, in the first place.
“Wait a minute,” you say, “aren’t we supposed to be loving and kind to people?” Of course we are. That’s the essence of living as a child of God. But here’s the truth that may be hard to accept: that loving someone is not the same as pleasing someone.
Let me say it another way: we are here to love people, not to please people.
What’s the difference? When we feel any duty or pressure or guilt or obligation to please someone, we are putting them in a position of authority over us, as a ruler, for us to do their bidding. That’s not the way of love at all, for us or for them. Pleasing someone out of these emotions is not really love.
I think the confusion often starts when we’re children. How many times did we do something to please a parent or other adult and they responded “Oh, what a good little boy or girl.” Our little minds began to associate obedience and people pleasing with love.
This faulty association has been deeply wired into many of us, that we have to please other people, and the wiring is so deep that not pleasing a person can cause us deep emotional pain in the form of rejection, guilt, fear, and loss of love.
But true love does not carry with it any emotional pain. There is no guilt or fear in true love. Anytime we love by doing something for someone it is entirely free, without obligation or burden or guilt or anything. If you feel any of those emotions because of trying to be “loving” or “kind” you do not have true love, you have a contaminated love that is a poison to your soul.
I know, because I’ve struggled with this faulty wiring myself, and I’ve suffered a lot through the years because of it. If you have major problems with your life being disrupted because of feeling you have to please people, you may benefit from a wise and skilled counselor as I did. Beyond that, there are two books that helped me greatly on my journey, Codependent No More and Boundaries (links to Amazon below).
You can live your life in freedom, freely giving love when and how you choose to give it. But to gain your freedom you first have to realize that you are in a cage, and work towards finding the way out. Be blessed in your journey to freedom today.