I was contemplating the different things going on in my life and I discovered something. We are all, in some way and to different degrees, slaves to the “Need to Please”. We need to be liked or loved by someone. We need to be at peace with our friends. We need to be at peace with our bosses and employers. We need to peace with those in our churches. We are forced, daily, to please others.
Before I continue, I need to clarify something. I am not talking about the necessity of doing what we are told and treating others with respect, whether this is at work, home, school, or church. I’m talking about the inherent, self-conscious, detrimental NEED to make sure that everyone we encounter is pleased with our behavior and is not in conflict with us. This is demonstrated through what could be perceived as sacrificial, others-focused behavior that may be deemed as humility or a servant’s heart. Thinking of others first and more highly than ourselves is great. BUT if it comes at the cost of allowing others to walk all over us or causes us to revolve our entire world around one person, then it has gone beyond what is healthy.
We are built with a Christ-shaped hole in our hearts that, when combined with a lack of self-confidence and healthy self-image, causes a black hole affect. We are constantly searching for something to quell the sense of loneliness and someone to make us feel loved and valuable. People suffering from this “Need to Please” are unable to trust, unable to believe that someone truly loves them, since they perceive love and acceptance through the lens of pleasing that person. They are constantly working towards a goal they can never achieve, since the finish line always backs up and they find themselves trying to perform rather than just live life. This creates additional pressure that can end relationships and strain friendships.
How do I know this? I too suffer from this syndrome.
I’ve discovered that my fear of being alone, combined with my non-confrontational attitude (which depends on the person) and insatiable desire to please whoever I’m with at great cost to myself, fuels this inherent need within me.
What does this look like in practice? No matter what time I get a call, I have to respond. I over-analyze every text I send and every word I say, apologizing even when I shouldn’t. I constantly have the fear of offending that other person and constantly feel the pressure to please that other person. I refrain from being honest because I don’t want to “make waves” or upset that other person.
I understand myself well enough that I know that I can, and will, change this. I trust that God is making me into who He wants me to be because He has put people in my life who trigger this behavior and then He taps me on the shoulder and points out the flaw, revealing it for what it is. A monster is only dangerous when its under your bed. Once you can see it and fight it, it loses half its strength right there.
And I’ve seen my monster and I’ve been forced to be honest with myself and evaluate my behavior. God, in His infinite wisdom, is constantly leading me into territory I’m not comfortable with. He isn’t driving out my “Need to Please”. He is just redirecting the focus back onto Himself, where it should’ve been in the first place. And what I have found is
I am free to make mistakes. I am free to fail. I am free to upset others when the situation warrants honesty. I am free to be alone since I’m never truly alone. I am free to be me and be ok with the fact that I might lose a relationship or two because of that. I’m free to not be driven by the need to be perfect for someone else or do everything possible for them to like me. I’m free to remove the mask and let them see my heart, my honesty and genuineness of spirit. I’m free to stumble and fall. I’m free to make a fool of myself while I’m learning how to “court” someone. I’m free to not be stressed or worry. I’m free to make bad decisions and once I realize my mistake, I’m free to move past my mistake and try again.
I am free to not be concerned about the what-ifs or maybes but rather just step forward in faith and trust it’ll work out.
The Lord has used my weaknesses to prune out the idiosyncrasies and bad habits that I have picked up along the way. The Lord has blessed me so that no matter what the result is I have learned so much along the way. I’m not the kind of person who is confident, but the Lord has pushed me into situations where honesty is needed and confidence in Him is required. And I’ve learned the hard way that His way makes so much more sense and, even though its hard, its so much more fulfilling.
He has introduced me to some amazing people and I won’t embarrass one person in particular by naming her. HOWEVER, I will talk about this person because of how impressed I am after spending time with her. I’ve learned that many of the things I’ve assumed to be true about others are not always true (yes, I generalize at times and judge a book by its cover). Sometimes when someone says I don’t know, they actually mean it. I’ve never met someone with the genuineness of heart and love for the Lord that I’ve seen in this lady. The grasp of the Bible and the desire to love others and treat others with respect was incredible. I never thought when I first met her that the person underneath the surface would match the person I thought I saw. Guess what? I assumed and I was wrong. The Lord humbled me mightily and pointed out glaring issues in my life when I compared our lives. I praise God for the lesson that, thankfully, was private between Him and I and not public like He has done previously.
I know I’m not the only one struggling with this “Need to Please” so let me tell you this: You are special just the way you are. You don’t need others to complete you. The only Person you need is Jesus. You were uniquely created by Him to serve Him and be yourself. You don’t have to be ruled by the need to please your parents (although you should respect them), or your friends, or any boyfriend or girlfriend. If you can’t please your parents now, then maybe it has nothing to do with you. Maybe you are fine just the way you are and you are loved by heavenly Father. It is such an addicting drug to fool ourselves into believing “If I just change this” “If I just do that” then “maybe they will love me, maybe they will tell me they’re proud.” It is an endless cycle that doesn’t help anyone and hurts everyone.
Get rid of the need you have inside of you to please others and just focus on being who you are. Focus on being a person that the Lord would be proud of. It hurts me so much to watch friends of mine struggling to gain approval from people who don’t know how to show it and should’ve given it to them a long time ago. It hurts me to watch the faces of my friends when someone they love says the wrong thing, hitting the button that destroys them. I can see it clearly, even if everyone else doesn’t seem to notice.
I wish I could convince you that what I say is true, that what I say changed my own life and that what I’ve experienced is the real deal. That the God I claim to serve is truly Almighty. That if you just listen and believe what I have to say that you can find peace. I’m not saying its a miracle drug or a magic cure but it is the rock that you can hold onto when the parent disapproves, when the job you loved is lost, and when you’re left behind when another dies. The truth that I wish you’d believe is that life is never over even when it feels like it is. You can continue on even though you have to leave behind that special someone or something, dead and buried. The pain may never fade and it may be terrifying to move on but it can be done. The “Need to Please” doesn’t need to extend beyond the grave and tie you to that moment in time when you’re whole world was turned upside down. It is the most difficult thing to do but you will find freedom and peace in the road beyond.