Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Learning to Say No to People Pleasing

Learning to Say No to People Pleasing

I've always been super conflict adverse as a kid and now an adult, carefully avoiding saying anything controversial to keep the peace. After all, doesn't the Bible say, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." (Romans 12:18)? While that verse is certainly truth, I now know my heart has always been in the wrong place, had the wrong motivation. In reality, I have an unhealthy fear of man, instead of an appropriate fear of God.

book nerd icon
Being good at school will make me feel loved and respected, right?

As a child, I was always the good little girl, eager to win my parents' and teachers' praise. If I did everything right, I was worthy, valuable, special, loved. In middle school, my natural introversion made it hard for me to make friends, which seeded great doubts and insecurities into my heart. As the song goes, "Nobody likes me, Everybody hates me, Guess I'll go eat worms." While I was fortunate to have a close-knit group of friends in high school, apparently the hurt was still there. I deliberately attended an out-of-state college where no one knew me and reinvented myself as "outgoing, talkative Anne" who had lots of friends and activities to keep me busy.

Unfortunately, these old wounds continued to haunt me in adulthood since, at the core, I still desperately feared being disliked and rejected by others. My early years of marriage with Mr. Gamer were rough. I tended to stuff areas of disagreement deep inside (because I wanted to be a "good wife"), only to have them blow up a couple of months later in front of my confused husband's face. "But I just wanted to eat pizza at home tonight, not go out. Why are you crying?" he would ask.

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It's never really a fight about pizza, is it?

Mr. Gamer is truly my match made in heaven because he is my complete opposite – extroverted, strong-willed, a born leader. If he wanted his way, usually he got it because of his overwhelming personality and because I hated to disappoint the one I loved most. Obviously that's not healthy in the long run for one spouse to always give in to the other. By marrying Mr. Gamer, I was forced to come out of my shell, to stand up to the challenge, to be iron sharpening iron. And by standing up to my husband and absorbing some of his force of will, I've become stronger and less of a pushover gradually over time. But the awkwardness and fear of others' opinions still exist.

I just finished reading When People Are Big and God is Small, written by a Christian counselor for people-pleasers. The content is biblically solid and several key points stuck out to me:
  • Why fear man over God when He is so much bigger in every way? (Matthew 10:28)
  • As one of God's children, He fully accepts (not rejects) me with rejoicing and singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
  • "Need other people less. Love other people more." (Chapter 11 of the book)
While the book isn't one of my favorites, God really used it as a conversation starter between me and Him to dig deeper into my fear of man and feelings of unworthiness. Yes, I'm still maturing when it comes to making God my end-all and be-all, but at this point in my walk right now, He wants to pour His love on me and make sure I understand it in all its ramifications. Slowly but surely, He's bringing out the "real Anne," the introvert who also has a will of her own, who has wisdom that is worth considering, and who has beauty worth uncovering.

playing and holding hands icon
"Need other people less. Love other people more."

P.S. I don't know if this will help anyone out there, but God left me with some personal words that I'd like to share with you:
You are forever accepted, wanted, loved, and found worthy!
Believe it, dear daughter. Just as you love your children and delight over them and know their precious value, you too are adored and cherished by Me.
Never call yourself unattractive, unworthy, unloved.
Your path is not the path of men and cannot be understood by them.
Only I can understand you fully and completely and forever!
Know that if you're serious about your relationship with God, He will pursue you, He will love you, and He will make you like Jesus Christ for His glory. All you have to do is be willing to peel back those painful layers and let Him do the surgery and healing it takes, so that you truly can love Him with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. ğŸ¤—

Related Links

Lay Aside the Fear of Man

Question of the Day

Do you struggle with people pleasing, and if so, how did you learn to say no? Comment below to share your answers!

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DISCLAIMER: Consult a licensed psychologist, therapist, counselor, etc. for professional treatment concerning life issues and mental health problems. The information shared here is general advice and my personal opinion on the topic, and I shall not be liable for any losses or damages related to the content of the article. Please use your own discretion to evaluate the presented information and seek professional help when needed.

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