A Prescription For The Please Disease
‘Saying yes all the time won’t make me wonder woman. It will make me a worn out woman.’ Have you ever struggled to meet the expectations of others around you? Have ever felt the need to please people in order to win their approval? And have you ever felt that if you were asked to do one more thing you might crash? There is much information available today about ‘people pleasing’ and the ‘approval addiction’. What I call ‘The Please Disease’ seems to be a very common disorder that many of us have suffered with at some point. Some of us may have full-blown Please Disease and others may have a few symptoms.
Best selling author Lysa TerKeurst has written a new book titled “The Best Yes”. This inspiring book has come from her own experiences of learning that there is a vast difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God. She has created ‘The Best Yes Blog Tour’ which I am delighted to be a part of along with many other bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE. (http://goo.gl/bQVJW0).
Many people need treatment for the Please Disease at some stage of their lives. I am referring to a pressure to perform—an excessive drive to be accepted and approved of by others. Perhaps we desire protection from rejection, a desire so strong that it influences and controls the majority of our decisions. However, no matter how hard we try, there will always be someone who disapproves of us or something that we do. In fact, trying to please everyone is impossible, but annoying one person can be easy! In fact, people pleasing is the easiest thing to do, however ultimately it may enslave us and make us miserable.
We are not called to please others, but we must walk in love. We can’t just do anything we want, with a disregard for the feelings of others. The Bible commands us to love others, but perhaps there is a fine line here. We must love, respect and care for others, we must listening to them and serve them. But on the other hand, we must not allow others to control us to the point that we’re never free to be who we are. If we do, we’ll aways be the person we think others expect us to be, rather than ‘daring to be different’, breaking out of the mold to be uniquely who God made us to be.
What are the symptoms of the Please Disease? How do we know if we are addicted to the approval of others? Firstly, we can appraise our need of praise. We all like to receive encouragement. We were designed to be loved and encouraged. But is our desire for affirmation excessive or out of balance? Are we honest with others? Which opinion matters more to us? Another person’s or God’s? And do we do things out of duty or desire? Obviously life is full of things that we don’t want to do but have to (such as housework!). And yes we are meant to prioritise the needs of others, but caring for ourselves is also important. Are we making sure that we are caring for our own needs too? So many women run themselves ragged. I know because I used to be one of them. But I’ve learned to rest hard as well as work hard. In fact, if I didn’t say no to some of the opportunities to help in the community that I see around me, my health would suffer.
No one can do it all. The spirit is willing but the body is weak. Sometimes as a stay at home mother there is the expectation that one must help with everything and attend every school or kindergarten trip. Whereas I used to feel guilty that I wasn’t on the kindergarten committee or that I wasn’t helping with school swimming, then I realised that perhaps I wasn’t meant to be serving in those areas. My first priority is to my husband and children and they don’t want a ratty wife and mother, because I’ve been saying yes to everyone else. Consider this beautiful truth – ‘A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness or an underwhelmed soul.’
“I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” (Galatians 1:10 NLT). I’ve been recently surprised to realise that people pleasing is a form of idolatry. In the Ten Commandments, God commands us not to have any idols before Him. We tend to think of money as an idol, or success. Sex and relationships, work, or fame can all be idols. But in reality anything can be an idol and desiring the approval of another person above God’s approval is also a form of idolatry.
Thankfully there is a prescription for the Please Disease. We can cast down imaginations about what we think others might think of us, and tell ourselves the truth based on the Word of God. And what is this truth? The truth is that we only have to live for God’s approval, not man’s. Because God’s approval is more important than popularity. To live without the fear of what other people think of us is true freedom. Granted, it can be hard to get to this place however. Apparently the older one gets the less one cares about what others think of them!
There are several things to remember if we are struggling with wanting to please others. Even God can’t please everybody. Furthermore, we don’t need anyone’s approval to be happy. One day we will give an account of our lives to God. God shaped us to be who we are. We can’t change just to get others to like us. We just have to be uniquely and authentically ourselves, while loving others radically. But loving others radically does not mean always pleasing others. Perhaps there is a difference. As Lysa describes another beautiful truth in her book ‘The Best Yes’ – ‘We must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please’.