People Pleasing. I’m sure everyone has felt the struggle at least once in their life. But have you ever found yourself doing tasks you absolutely despise on a continuous basis for people you know don’t really care about you? I realize in life, sometimes we have to put on our big girl pants and do things for people that we don’t necessarily want to do. But when you’re plagued with the tortuous disease of people pleasing, saying no to things is sometimes downright impossible. Halfway through the tasks I often found myself wondering “how in the world did I end up doing this?” I was always in a position in which I would bend over backwards for certain people in my life, especially when it came to a guy. Whether these tasks were good for me or not, I was the one they could always count on to drop everything and come running. With most relationships it’s general knowledge that at some point what goes around, comes around, and the favor will be returned. The same can’t be said with toxic relationships. One person is always giving and the other one is always taking. When do you decide enough is enough? When do you decide that you can’t always be the one giving? Especially when it’s for all the wrong reasons. If you’re constantly saying yes to helping others out because you want to gain acceptance from these people, then my friends, you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons.
I was one of those girls who was doing it for all the wrong reasons. I wasn’t necessarily doing things for anyone out of the goodness of my heart or to be genuinely helpful towards them. I would be doing it for my own selfish reasons. I would try and gain acceptance from them by doing whatever it was they asked. I needed to be needed. I wanted to be wanted. I would try to go out of my way to prove my worth to them by essentially being a doormat. This need to people please got even worse when it came to guys I was in a relationship with. I would see a guy who needed help, and there I would be to lend the helping hand. He needed a ride? Sure, I would drop everything and go get him. He needed to borrow money? Okay here you go. You can’t pay me back? Okay… some other time… and so on and on the cycle would go. Some may call it desperation to be in a relationship, but I never saw it like that. Rose coloured glasses were always my best friend. I’m sure other girls who are, or have been in the same situation, feel the exact same way. You care for the guy, so you want to help him anyway possible. It wasn’t necessarily desperation to be in a relationship (I guess a part of it was), it was more of a desperation to be needed. To be wanted. To feel like you mattered. If you could just change this guy to be the guy you had decided he could be by helping him through any situation, then you would have succeeded in your mission and you could finally feel accomplished and worthy.
I had a bad case of the disease to please. While some people see this as a good quality (I mean the bible often says we are to serve others out of love), others see this as a weakness. I ultimately think that viewing it as healthy or not healthy, all derives from where your source of helping comes from. Does it come from a place of love? Or does it come from a place of brokenness? People pleasing wasn’t something I was doing out of necessarily the goodness of my heart. I was doing it for my own selfish validation. Underneath the smiling, helpful face I would put on, was a girl who was always striving for acceptance. I was always looking for validation of the fact that I was a good person, so I would drop everything and run to help. I was searching for the validation I needed, in guys who weren’t ever going to be able to give it to me.
The cycle only perpetuated itself when it came to toxic relationships. The reason I let any guy into my life who didn’t genuinely care about my emotions time and time again, was a question I would ponder over after every failed relationship. I eventually came to realize I had this innate desire to feel like I mattered. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I continuously chose guys who I knew were never the right guy for me, so I could view it as some type of challenge to change them and feel like because I had changed them I was worth something. I was the party girl, so I chose the party guys. The guys who were a good time and always were having some type of fun. But most of these guys were about as emotionally constipated as I was. They were great distractions from what was really going on inside of myself. I would ignore my problems and try and fix theirs, even when they didn’t ask or know they needed to “be fixed.” I see now that because I had a gaping war wound on my heart, I would try and fix whatever gaping war wound that was on theirs. I would try and be the happy go lucky girl that could take away their problems and eventually their self worth became more important than my own. I had become an emotional hostage by my own doing.
I often found myself head over heals for guys who I knew could not emotionally give me what I truly desired. Messed up I know. I put myself into situations with guys who were not good for me because I didn’t have boundaries. I would stay with guys who were not good with me because I didn’t value my own self worth. Their inability to truly care for me only reflected my own inability to truly care for myself. I let guys trample on my heart because I never took the time to step back and say no. I let my need to be in a relationship and my need to be wanted be the driving force in my life, and in turn I got my heart broken often. I didn’t care enough about myself to really care, so I found myself in a string of relationships with guys who treated me the same way.
My bad case of the disease to please soon allowed whoever the guy in my life was to become priority one. He called the shots and I would follow. I was always at his beck and call because I had placed him up on this pedestal where he mattered more than I did… and he knew it. So how did I decide to stop people pleasing my way through life? I had to learn to recognize that my low self esteem had become my own worst enemy and realize that I was at a point where I would do just about anything to try and fix the brokenness I was feeling inside. I would drop anything to help anybody out, even if it was at the expense of my own dignity. I constantly found myself doing things and bending over backwards for people who didn’t really and truly care about me. Desperation? Maybe. Suffering? Definitely. But my need to people please came from my desire to feel wanted. So I had to learn it was time to heal myself and start putting my emotional health first.
I wish I could tell my past self that this wasn’t how it had to be. That I didn’t have to torture myself with relationships where I was always giving and never receiving. I wish I could tell myself that I deserved more than the continuous string of broken hearts… but unfortunately, I can’t. What I can do is change the future. I can change how I handle certain relationships and I can change who I let into my life. I’ve changed who is in charge and I’ve learned that I matter. I’ve learned that God doesn’t want me to be in a relationship filled with pain and regret and an endless cycle of people pleasing. That I am in not in charge of fixing anyone, and I don’t need to be in relationships where the guys need “fixing.” I wish I could tell myself to take a step back, realize my self worth, and work on what was really going on inside of me. You can’t expect people to feel a certain way about yourself, if you don’t feel that same way about yourself.
I still believe that we should help others as much as we can, but that helpfulness should come from a place of love, not a place of brokenness. There is a difference between helping out and being taken advantage of. As much as I think that we are called to serve others, I think that sometimes that serving can be taken advantage of if we aren’t in a healthy place. If we are continuously looking for love and validation from other people than we often loose who we are. Our self worth and our true identity becomes over-ridden by the need to people please and we end up giving all our attention to helping someone who is only taking advantage.