The Need to Please


Okay, friends, grab a cup of coffee and hang on. This one was a tough one to write and I pray you are able to receive from it. I have such a long way to go and so much to learn. Life is such a journey.  I would love to hear any of your comments or know if any of you can relate to what I’m trying to say here.

Ever had something so heavy on your mind and heart that it seemed to consume your every thought? Like the uncomfortable conversation you had with a co worker, or a heated discussion with your teenager, the disagreement with a child’s teacher  that  resulted in leaving a parent conference on unpleasant terms.  The unguarded mouthing off at the cashier in Wal Mart, or (the more common) yelling at someone in traffic, an argument you had with your husband before  work, or finding out someone you trusted betrayed you, the list could go on and on. The misunderstanding, or frustration, the gripping fear, whatever the circumstance, it consumes your thought life. Your mind is stuck on “repeat.” It just keeps replaying (in living color) the circumstances, the words spoken, or the harsh verdict of a situation in hopes to see something different this time. But, all repeat seems to do is keep on replaying the same scenario and causing the same feelings to be more and more embedded into your heart. I tend to be a “pleaser.” And this is how my mind works a lot of the time – on repeat. So when this (a difficult person, situation etc.) happens, it steals my peace. I want everyone in my life to be happy. I want everyone in my life to be happy with me. I just want happiness for the world, okay?!  This could be a beautiful trait if it were completely surrendered to the Lord. But, left to its own devices it can (and has) become my worst enemy. A pleaser wakes up and looks for ways to try and satisfy the needs of those around them. Sadly, this is almost an impossible task, as one cannot and does not have the power to sustain another’s needs, not for long. (I was telling Jeff yesterday, that I just want to make him completely happy, and it was an eye opening moment when I realized that I have no power to do that.  None.  Maybe you can’t relate to this, but there are a lot of “us” out there who can.)  Not being able to bring happiness or resolve  a difficult situation amicably results in pleasers like me feeling a sense of failure and rejection, then because apparently we like a challenge, we try harder. That only results in more disappointment, and the poor subject whom we are trying so hard to  “please” becoming slightly annoyed at us. And then they flee for cover if we come at them a third time. It’s hard to thwart a pleaser when we think acceptance or resolution is on the line.  Because acceptance and peace, even if it’s only a false peace, is what we are  constantly striving for.  Once we feel we have exhausted all our efforts on subject A, subject B comes along, poor soul. You get the idea. It’s a vicious cycle. One that no one wins. We simply cannot please everyone or live to please anyone.  (Can I get an “amen” to that?) That’s a tough sentence to write for someone like me. It’s not like I can turn these feelings off like a light switch, it’s much more complex than that. Much more. Yet, I know with all my heart that trying to make everyone around me happy or constantly trying to meet their needs only makes them want to run from me.  I know I don’t want to be the opposite of this, where no one else’s feelings matter, where it’s my way or the highway – that would be just as miserable and unfulfilling. (I think we’ve all met a few people like this and we do choose the highway!)  How empty to always have your own best interest at heart, to see the world through shades of deep selfishness. But, wait a minute, isn’t that kind of what I’m doing as a pleaser? (Eyes opening slightly wider here as I realize this.)  Trying to meet some insatiable need in me to be liked, accepted, and approved of, needed?  Maybe I’m over thinking this, but I don’t think so. Pleasing keeps my mind on “me and my”, it limits my world-view to what will make me happy.  Even though it might seem a little bit more noble, it really is just as selfish. It’s self-centered to always need others to validate me so I can love and accept myself, and so I can be okay with me. I’m still always thinking about me.  (Notice how many times I’ve said “me” so far? I’m actually kind of getting sick of me as I write this, or at least sick of hearing about me.)  So, maybe pleasing is just as negative as not caring at all.  Living at one extreme or the other is exhausting and imprisoning. As I’ve gotten older, the Lord has been able to point out these deeper cracks inside of me and has helped me to understand why it is so important to acknowledge them. He’s had to break my heart open and expose it so He can begin the healing work it needs. He wants wholeness and happiness for me; He has my best interest at heart in the perfect sense of the term.  So, what’s to be done about this?   Am I forever to be trapped in this cycle?  A prisoner of unhealthy thinking?  Praise God, no!   He came to rescue me from myself, from my tendency to veer toward unhealthiness.  Freedom is mine for the asking and can be obtained by retraining my mind. For me personally, I will be praying the verse below often, very often.  And I am going to ask the Lord to show me how to “think” better.  He promises that He will be faithful to complete the good work He started in me.  (Phil 1:6)  I think this one is going to take some time, I’m going to need another cup of coffee to really get my mind wrapped around it and to gather my courage as the Lord continues to set me free from the need to please. One day at a time, thank goodness.

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in YOUR sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”  Psalm 19:14 (emphasis mine)

4 comments

  1. Pat Bates Smith · August 21, 2015

    Sandi, I tend to want to make everyone happy too! I have discovered even though I mean well some may see it as a control issue! Happiness in others is not in our power to do! The only person I can make happy is me! Hopefully, others will see my contentment and be Blessed. Thanks for putting into words what I have struggled with in my own life! You are so gifted!

    Liked by 1 person

    • sandimcarlson · August 21, 2015

      Thank you, Aunt Pat, you are such an encouragement. It’s tough for me to think that wanting to make others happy as trying to control them, but if I am honest, I guess it is. So thankful God is forever working on and in me, He is faithful! Thank you so much for your thoughts!

      Like

  2. Stephanie · August 21, 2015

    Yes, we need to loosen the grip on our illusion of control. I love the idea about being released from trying to please everyone. May I use my newfound freedom càrefully.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sandimcarlson · August 21, 2015

      So true. Even though I don’t like to think of it as control, I guess it is. Thank you for your comment and your thoughts!

      Like

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