In her article “Why Pleaser Women Always Lose Out” Renee Wade shares the difference between pleasing and giving:
Pleasing is about you. When you try to please someone, you’re coming from a place of fear – fear of loss of love, and desperation or neediness, and you are looking for something in return….
Giving, however, comes from a place of pride. Giving is what you do when you truly care about somebody, and their future, and what they really need – not what they want, and not even what they seem to want or say they want. http://tinyurl.com/p856ja8
I spent the better part of my life a pleaser; often in un-authentic relationships where emotional honesty did not exist because telling the truth might ‘displease’ someone. Pleasers give away their power because they believe that “power and love can’t coexist.” http://tinyurl.com/p4m3sgf
For me, pleasing looked something like this:
- Telling people what I thought they wanted to hear.
- Insulting my appearance and talents so insecure or jealous women felt better.
- Not standing up for myself or my needs to avoid conflict.
- Putting up a ‘false front’ to hide how insignificant and lost I really felt.
Unfortunately when we live like this nobody wins because we lie to ourselves and those around us; and superficial dishonest relationships don’t last.
So how do we stop this co- dependent cycle?
Ephesians 4:32 tells us to forgive one another as Christ forgave us. When we don’t it can harm us more than our transgressors because bitterness and resentment are damaging to our mind, body and spirit. When we don’t forgive, we remain a victim of the offense, giving the offender tremendous power over us.
Knowing this, why would anyone choose not to forgive?
- In some relationships there’s an unequal balance of power. If our self-worth is wrapped up in the relationship, the betrayal can feel deeply painful making it harder than normal to forgive.
- Sometimes choosing not to forgive can keep us from looking at our part in the relationship or situation.
- Remaining a ‘victim’ of the offense can garner attention or sympathy from others.
- We may feel it’s safer not to forgive than to open ourselves up to being hurt again.
If self-esteem is an issue; examining why there’s an unequal balance of power in the relationship can help us see our part in the dynamic. Not only will this make forgiveness easier, it will help us set better boundaries with people going forward.
Understanding the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation can help relieve our fears of being hurt again. Forgiveness is an individual choice and it does not necessary mean we are required to have a relationship with the other person. It is possible to forgive and not be reconciled; or to forgive and be reconciled at a later time when we feel ready.
Choosing not to forgive allows bitterness to take root in our heart and can ultimately block us from loving others. The bible says people will know we are Christians by our love. In order to be one, we must choose to forgive.
For years I used to take responsibility for other peoples reaction to me. If I intimidated them I would downplay my gifts and devalue myself to make them feel more comfortable.
This false form of humility cost me a lot of opportunities. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s good to be humble; but we all have God given talents and gifts. Hiding them so others feel better about themselves can cause all kinds of emotional problems. For instance:
*We feel like we can’t be authentic around certain people because it makes them insecure. This creates an emotionally dishonest relationship in which we’re always on pins and needles trying to say or do the ‘right’ thing.
*We betray ourselves at the expense of others. When we do this we feel a sense of violation in the relationship, partly because we have violated ourselves.
*We feel unappreciated and undervalued; and the worst part is that we are the ones ultimately responsible for feeling this way.
One of the ways to begin getting out of this co-dependent cycle is to not allow others to control how we feel. It’s extremely difficult at first but it does get easier.
The biggest hurdle is allowing ourselves to become aware of it in the first place.
One of the reasons we’re told to seek God’s will above our own is because not only does He knows what’s best for us; He’s not driven by jealousy, greed, revenge, and other worldly motivations.
Stepping on another’s toes in an attempt to get our needs met usually means our motivation is wrong or we’re trying to fulfill our unmet needs incorrectly.
Jesus addresses this by telling us that: “…the Pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:32 & 33)
When we begin to seek God first our heart begins to change; when our heart begins to change our character begins to change; when our character begins to change our motivation begins to change.
I have found in my own life that the above scripture has been fulfilled more often than not as a result of the change that occurred in me after the seeking.
I feel Gods presence the most in my darkest times. His power seems greatest in my weakest moments. Sometimes pain exposes our vulnerability and opens the door for God to do a work in us that can become a powerful testimony.
The apostle Paul begged God 3 times to remove the ‘thorn in his flesh,’ which God allowed to keep him from getting too proud. Every time, God answered the same: “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.”
Perhaps we too would become arrogant without our deficiencies, or so independent that we would abandon God altogether.
Sometimes the ability to endure hardships and not crumble is a witness of Gods power as illustrated in 2nd Corinthians 7 & 8:
But this precious treasure-this light and power that now shine within us –is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up.
His ‘power works best in our weakness’ if:
In our brokenness others find hope,
in our troubles others find strength,
and in our despair others see Christ.
In his book Lost in the Shuffle Robert Subby describes one of the ‘rules’ of the co-dependent family:
It’s not ok to talk about or express feelings openly
When we live by this rule we come to believe that our feeling are bad or wrong. As a result we shut them down and become ‘cut off from ourselves.’
By the time I finally quit drinking I was so emotionally detached from myself it took another 10 years to uncover the ‘why’s’ and ‘wherefores’ of why I was drinking in the first place.
The drinking soothed the panic attacks, anxiety, fear, insomnia, and constant turmoil of indecision that comes from identity loss as a result of being divorced from self.
The real ‘me’ was trapped deep inside, sometimes it literally felt like she was beating on my inner extremities begging to be let out.
I realized that I had left her, wounded, a long time ago.
Today I have decided to come back to her, to listen to her, and to love her.
She is important
She is me.
James 1:6-8 describes the doubter as ‘double minded’ and ‘like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.’
Worriers (like me) frequently feel this way because we entertain irrational fears that can hinder clear decision making.
As I was having one of my ‘irrational meditation sessions’ God brought the Serenity Prayer to mind:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
I was spending so much time worrying about the things I couldn’t change (Bob hates me) that I was missing the opportunity to change the things I could (ask Bob how he feels).
The more I’d obsess over what I couldn’t change, the more fear and anxiety would paralyze me. Meanwhile, the things I could change would gradually slip into the abyss of missed opportunities and regrets.
What I’ve described is another version of ‘paralysis by analysis’ which is an occasional occurrence for everyone. When it’s a daily occurrence it can cause a lot of problems like anxiety, insomnia, addiction, and relapse.
Praying the serenity prayer can bring peace of mind, acceptance, clarity, and courage.