Taking Care of You

How to Stop People Pleasing

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Do you struggle with people pleasing? Do you desire to embrace who you are without worrying others’ opinions? Discover just how to stop people pleasing.

Confession time! I love Jack-in-the-Box Tacos. I know it’s gross. I’m not even sure they’re made with real food. But I can’t help myself. 
Still, there is much embarrassment in eating these tacos. They’re soggy and messy and there’s really no way to look dignified while driving around shoving this wannabe tex-mex mess in your mouth. 
Recently, my kids and I stopped for lunch on our way home and of course I ordered these tacos. As we were headed home, I stopped at a stoplight and habitually put my taco in the console next to me.
This habit began many years ago. I have always had anxiety when it comes to people’s opinions of me. I want to be liked, even by strangers. So, I put down my taco because I don’t want to give the people in the cars next to me a reason to judge. 
What if they think this is gross food and they think less of me for eating it? What if I don’t eat it in a “pretty” way and they think I’m uncouth? What if I sneeze while eating it and it spews all over my steering wheel? What if they laugh at me for eating in my car?
And from the back seat, I hear my three-year-old daughter, “Mommy, you didn’t finish your taco. Are you full?”
Of course I wasn’t full. I had taken two bites from this taco. But how do I explain to my children that I am too afraid of what other people think of me to eat a taco in my car? How do I tell them to be themselves, to only worry about being obedient to God and not about pleasing others, when I’m too afraid of what a stranger in the car next to me at a random stoplight might be thinking about my taco?

Evaluate Areas of Change

When I realized the example I was setting for my children, I determined to make a change.
I evaluated the areas that caused me the most anxiety and came up with five ways I avoid being myself so as not to offend or to please those around me.
  • I often avoid talking about my faith so as not to offend a non-believer.
  • I change my speech patterns and word choices to fit in with those around me.
  • I avoid certain foods in public (like Jack-in-the-Box tacos) because they might be embarrassing.
  • I refuse to talk about anything controversial in case some don’t agree with my views.
  • I don’t sing in the car so the strangers in separate cars next to me won’t be tempted to laugh. 
I’ve realized that instead of endearing myself to others, these adjustments I make to my personality make me apologetic, insecure, and leave others uncertain about my true and, at least internally, very strong beliefs.

What I’ve Decided to Do Instead

Be Confident

Develop a quiet confidence about your faith and speak the truth. Put together a short statement of your belief and start practicing it. Say it in front of your mirror to gain confidence. Share it with your close friends and family. Internalize it and make it such a part of who you are that it becomes natural to express it without fear or anxiety.

Being confident in what you believe will allow you to share your beliefs in loving confidence rather than anxious flamboyance.

Don’t Change to Fit In

I have always loved words. I still enjoy learning new words and working them into my vocabulary. This is not something to be ashamed of but rather celebrated. Instead of feeling self-conscious about it, embrace it. If someone is unsure of what you said they will ask for clarification. 

When I was in college I thought I had to use bad language to fit in. This is the opposite of what I was taught. My Grandma always told me she knew enough words to express her feelings without using bad language. But I wanted to fit in with my “friends”. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that most of their language was also in an effort to fit in.

The turning point for me was when I felt comfortable enough with my foul mouth to use it around my mother. I realized this was not the persona I wanted others to see. I determined to change.

It took two years for me to feel confident that my bad language was no longer part of my vocabulary. I’m so grateful I made the effort to cleanse my speech.

Realize What’s Normal

Have I mentioned that I love tacos? I’ve tried but there’s really not a pretty way to eat a taco. Unfortunately, most foods are like that. Go ahead, next time you’re eating a meal with anyone, watch them eat.

It’s gross.

Embrace that there is no genteel way to eat and enjoy the fellowship a good meal provides. Otherwise you will spend many fabulous dinners appearing antisocial while you’re dreaming of that greasy cheeseburger you’ll devour on your way home.

Trust me. I know. 

Speak Truth

I don’t like controversy but I do have beliefs I feel very strongly about. Discussion on controversial subjects need to happen as long as they are done in love, with open ears for the opposing belief, and solid truth-backed opinions. I don’t “talk” about my beliefs on social media. In my experience, “discussions” on social media rarely lead to any positive conclusion. Don’t agree or disagree with something just because it’s popular. For believers, every search for truth should begin by opening your Bible.   

Stop Stressing

be yourself everyone else is taken

Finally, stop worrying about what those around you will think. This one is hard for me. We live in a really judgmental time where everyone has an opinion and most aren’t afraid to express it.

Singing in the car brings me joy. It lifts my spirits. A few days ago, I let go of my inhibitions and started singing along with Hillary Scott’s Thy Will. As the song moved to the first chorus, my six-year-old son joined in.

Then my three-year-old daughter.

Then my MIL who has moderate Dementia and Alzheimer’s started singing along with us! I didn’t even know they all knew the words! But because I let go of my inhibitions and started singing my “charges” let go of there’s and we all shared a very special car ride home.  

It’s hard to be yourself in a world that wants us to be the same – to have the same beliefs, to walk a straight line with your hands at your side and your eyes in front of you. Letting go of just a few of your inhibitions will allow your character to shine through without stirring up unnecessary conflict.

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