My first church. I worked more hours there than any other church. Every meeting. Every hospital visit. Every Sunday. I’d like to say this was because I loved God, but it had more to do with loving the approval of others. The hard work was about my insecurity and my belief that if I exceeded everybody’s expectations—people would like me and accept me.
I don’t struggle with this anymore, except most days. I can think of no worse body of water to swim in than the sea of constantly laboring to meet other people’s expectations. People slowly and painfully drown in that sea every day. Here are three reasons why swimming in this sea is a really bad idea.
- It’s tough to hit a moving target and even tougher to cross a moving finish line.
You simply aren’t going to be able to please some people no matter how good you are or how hard you try. Expectations aren’t always clear. Some are unrealistic. Or they change. And many people, even if their expectation is met, still aren’t going to be happy with you because they aren’t happy with themselves.
- Being a people pleaser gives people great power over you.
If you live for somebody’s acceptance you may die from their rejection. Basing your self-worth on an imperfect person’s perception of you will mess you up. Stop doing that. It leads to a life of anxiety and being busy with duties you aren’t too thrilled about.
- Good luck trying to realize your dreams and accomplish your goals when you are spending all your time and energy attempting to meet the expectations of others.
People pleasing puts you in the position of feeling powerless to say “no” and then being frustrated when you say “yes”. Constantly attempting to meet other people’s expectation turns you in their creation. Perhaps life’s most painful moment is the moment when you realize you have lost yourself and regret a future you will never have.
Look for better places to swim. Find your own pond, river, lake, or ocean filled with waters of authenticity, growth, and grace. Here are three things you can do to get started today.
- Be at peace that you aren’t going to be able to please everybody all the time.
It is not possible to please everybody all the time. Don’t spend your days failing at something you shouldn’t be doing anyway. Memorize, own, and live this phrase: “I can’t please everybody all the time and I’m cool with that.”
- Learn to be totally good with telling people “no”.
Saying “no” isn’t selfish. Saying “no” just means you have good boundaries. “No.” is a complete sentence. You have no obligation to explain a darn thing to anybody.Learn to say “no” and feel good—not guilty.
- Embrace that your worth comes from God.
Being consumed with what others think about you is quickest and most effective way to disregard what God believes about you. Being consumed with what God believes about you is the quickest and most effective way to disregard what others think about you. And God believes you are great!