Confession, I have been a people pleaser my entire life. I use to think if everyone liked me then bad things would not happen to me and that bad people would leave me alone. Nothing could be further from the truth. I discovered this truth late last year as I went through one of the toughest personal growth struggles of my adult life. It started when I made the decision to get baptized, committed myself to grow closer to God, to follow His path for my life instead of the one that I had planned. As part of that journey, I read a book called The Best Yes, by Lysa Terkeurst. It was as if God had that book written specifically for me. The message made me so uncomfortable, the thought of changing my people pleasing ways made me sick to my stomach. Yet I was being called to change, I heard the message loud and clear and understood to fulfill my BEST YES or the one God called me to, I was going to have to ruffle some feathers, to say no, to stand for something, to let others not like what I had to say.
There was evidence everywhere in my life that I needed to change. I let negative, toxic people in my life knowing they were pulling me and others down. I did not stand up for what I believed in, in fear of them not liking me. I said yes to everyone and everything because I wanted people to like me. Because of my unrealistic need to be liked by everyone, I let people influence my behavior in negative ways, I let people use and manipulate me to fulfill their agendas, I let others dictate how my time and really my precious life was being spent. I did not stand for anything in fear of offending others and because of that people took advantage of me. I knew it but I just kept thinking, if I keep being nice and people keep liking me than I will get a chance to change them, I will be the positive light that changes their heart… But that’s not what happened. I was enabling them and hurting myself. Their bitterness took root in my heart instead. I stopped loving people the way I use to. I felt unmotivated to change the world, to make it better. Cynicism took over my thoughts and my life started to move backwards. I did not realize that by people pleasing I was willingly giving up pieces of me and allowing my God given purpose to be knocked off course.
I knew what I was being called to do, with every ounce of my being I was trying to run from it. But the beginning of this year I faced my biggest fear… I drew a line in the sand and started to only seek approval from God. I stopped people pleasing. I started standing for what I believed in. I started saying NO to things that were not in line with my values. It has been an eye opening experience. Over the past 3 months, I have had so many of those toxic people walk out of my life. Literally walk out, un-friend me on facebook, yell at me, tell me I’m wrong, stupid, overreacting, publicly bash me on social media and other things. I would say that was always my worst nightmare but it’s interesting to me that I feel relieved. Like a huge weight has been lifted off my back and I can breathe again. I was a little surprised how fast it started happening. At first, I wanted to fix it, to make them like me again. To run back and apologize for speaking my truth and standing up for something. But I clearly hear God reassure me, “Let them go. You don’t have to look good. I’m protecting you. I have something better. Everyone is not going to like you. Its not about you. We are going to do great things. Keep close and follow me.”
I trust Him with all my heart. I chose Him over the options of others. I am positive it was the right decision. I am still working on letting go of my Ego to be liked by everyone. I am sure it will be a life long journey for me. I love people now more than I did before as a people pleaser. I forgive the ones that choose to blame or hate me. Its not about me. Their reactions are a reflection of how they see themselves. They are on their own journey too. They need grace just as I did and do on a daily basis. I feel like I am able to love them better at a distance. I have time for the ones that love me back. I am now able to surround myself with people that make me better, hold me to higher standards and lift me up because I’m no longer lost in the crowd. I consciously protect my heart and purpose because I am more concerned with my soul and what God has planned for me than what others think I should be doing.
I wanted to share because it has made all the difference in the world. I have no idea where God is taking me but I do know its better than what I had planned. To follow Him, means to stand for something, it means not everyone will like me and I am okay with that. I hope that if you are a people pleaser you can read this with an open heart and maybe it will start the change process in you too. I know we can not make the world a better place by making everyone happy.