Finding Your Holiday Balance, Part Three: People Pleasing
This one is for all the People Pleasers out there. You know who you are because one or more of the following is true for you:
1) You are participating in a gift exchange you can’t afford.
2) You have agreed to host an event, but you are secretly resenting everyone you invited because you don’t have the time or energy to host.
3) You have committed to stretching your family in multiple directions because you are afraid to say, “We can’t make it this year.”
4) You dread seeing a certain family member because he/she makes you feel anxious, depressed, or inadequate with their disapproval of you.
5) You feel like you can’t tell people how you truly feel about any of this because doing so would mean having to deal with their anger, disappointment, or emotional withdrawal from you — and you’ve decided it’s just not worth all that. You’d rather suck it up, be a “servant,” and power though.
As a recovering People Pleaser myself, I totally get it. Even though I’ve made tremendous progress in this area (I’ve probably had more personal growth in this area than in any other), sitting around the dinner table with my family of origin can bring up all kinds of inner junk. Family dynamics threaten to propel me back into a child-like state, where suddenly, I am no longer a middle-aged married woman with kids and a mortgage; but instead I’m the boy-crazy, bubbly, baby of the family. Without even trying, everyone falls into their old familiar roles, and I forget I’m a grown-up with valid opinions and desires and boundaries.
And all the People Pleasers said, “Yep!”
(I don’t have adequate space in this blog post to examine People Pleasing in depth. I actually devote two chapters to this in my book Finding Your Balance, where I talk about the vital distinction between being a loving servant and being a People Pleaser, and also give some very practical strategies for becoming completely free from this burden for good.)
I realize it’s a little late in the game to go back and say no to hosting Christmas this year, or participating in the gift exchange, or showing up at all the celebrations on the exact same day. But I’d like to offer you something — a manifesto, if you will.
Because, for one, I like the word “manifesto.”
And for two, I want to encourage and empower you as the holiday season reaches its crescendo. You don’t have to crawl across the finish line, exhausted and defeated (which is very typical for the People Pleaser). You can walk — or maybe run — across, feeling strong and confident. Like a gazelle. A beautiful and free Christmas gazelle.
A Healthy Holiday Manifesto
For Recovering People-Pleasers
I am not responsible for anyone else’s happiness. If ____________________ is angry, that is his/her feeling. I cannot make anyone else happy. I can and should consider others’ feelings, but I am not responsible for their feelings. If someone is angry with me or disappointed in me, that’s okay. It doesn’t have to ruin my holiday or my life.
Not everyone will like me. If someone doesn’t like me, that’s totally fine. Jesus lived a perfect life (literally), and people hated Him — I’m in good company.
When someone tries to control my actions with his/her anger or withdrawal, that is manipulation. I can recognize this as an unhealthy relationship tactic and do not need to respond to it. I refuse to allow other people to manipulate me.
My peace and joy do not need to fluctuate with the approval, feelings, or decisions of others. My peace and joy come from God, Who loves me unconditionally and never, ever changes.
I am the only one who can decide what I need and what I can handle. Only I can set healthy boundaries around my time, my energy, my finances, and my emotions. If I do not communicate my boundaries to the people in my life, they will not know them. I cannot expect other people to protect my boundaries — this is my job.
“No” can be one of the most loving words I can say. “No” is a complete sentence and requires no apology or explanation. Telling someone “yes” when I really mean “no” is not loving. It is deception and is rooted in fear.
Buying gifts for my loved ones which I cannot afford is not loving, it is irresponsible.
Serving with a heart of resentment is not loving. I must either choose to say “no” to future requests for my time, energy, or resources, or I must choose to own my “yes,” and serve with a loving attitude. If I don’t feel loving, I can ask God to help me, because God is love. (I John 4:8)
I should not give everyone permission to speak into my life. It is an honor and a privilege to offer insights on my character, my purpose, my motives, my parenting, my marriage, my finances, my career, my weight, or my children. People must earn this honor by knowing me, loving me, and looking out for my best interests. If I do not feel comfortable with someone speaking into my life, I have the right, the responsibility, and the power to excuse myself from the conversation.
As I learn to set healthy boundaries, I will be completely humble and gentle. I will also be patient and will bear with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2). I will love my people where they are now, not where I want them to be.
If you missed any post in this series, click here for Part One: Your Holiday To-Don’t List,
and here for Part Two: Steering Clear of the Comparison Trap.
From the bottom of my heart, I want to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas. I truly appreciate the time you take to show up when I write stuff.
You are the reason I keep doing it. 🙂