Is People Pleasing, Pleasing?


Everyone applauds kindness extended towards fellow human beings. All of us grew up in some capacity endeavoring to please our parents or other caretakers. And, I can’t think of anyone that doesn’t take some pleasure in making other people happy. But, what happens when your desire to please people comes at the expense of your own pleasing? Have you become a people pleaser and if so, could there be something behind it that isn’t very pleasing at all?

In childhood, our behaviors were distinctively shaped by our parents. We learned very early on that certain things we did were met with stern disapproval. While other things seemed to garner their favor. The more we behaved badly the more we subjected ourselves to unpleasant correction. But, when our behavior touched on those things deemed good, we were rewarded for our good behavior. We were perhaps too young to recognize that both the good and the bad were often subjective. Some good behavior was represented by sitting still and remaining quiet while bad behavior may have included horseplay and uncontrolled giggling. So on we plodded by trial and error urgently seeking for those things that were approved. As we grew older, if we were healthy and well-adjusted, we began to understand that the approval of others, while always encouraging, wasn’t necessarily the measure of how well or poorly we were doing. Conversely, if we grew up in an environment where the chastisement was arbitrary and capricious, rendering us unsettled and confused, we likely assigned too much merit to the opinions of other people. Thus, the people pleaser was born.

People pleasers always appear noble and beneficent. In fact, they are likely some of the most popular people you know. Who does not love them? They mold and alter their opinions to match the majority and are loathe to reveal their true feelings about a thing. They pretend to enjoy music they don’t enjoy. They laugh at jokes that aren’t funny. They feel a sort of false superiority in their benevolent approach evidenced by their unique ability to sublimate their own ideas for the ideas of other people, or their stellar self-confidence found in allowing others to take shots at them, while never shooting back in return. People pleasers often make the best employees and the best followers in their profound unwillingness to make waves or present dissenting ideas. In the end, these ignoble characteristics reveal formerly unrevealed pain, festering wounds without a salve, unresolved childhood issues, and an unusual, extraordinary over-reliance on the approval of others. People pleasing is not pleasing at all!

While all of us have to start somewhere, the true measure of a real man or a real woman is found in their learned ability to stand for themselves. As Emerson once eloquently penned, “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.” Until then, you will find yourself acquiescing to this and capitulating to that… You won’t be a real person at all. You will be merely a shadow of a human, plagiarizing other people’s feelings and desires. You’ll be all hat no cattle, fraudulent and duplicitous, rain without clouds, unsubstantial, inconsequential, fake! And, you will be damned unhappy! The lie in people pleasing is found in a faulty starting premise, namely, that you need the approval of others to be found okay. No-one does anything of magnitutude or consequence while also pleasing all the people. There will be times when you will need to exclaim, “I have had about enough of this shit!” There will be moments when you need to turn into the wind and press forward. There will be flashes of clarity that only you and you alone can see. In so trusting, you will find what is only yours to find; to give; to offer to the world!

When you peel away all of the layers, the people pleaser is afraid! He is the victim of pervasive disapproval he erroneously assigned as from himself based on something he did or did not do. He fails to see the disapproval for what it really is, the opinion of another imperfect being or collection of imperfect beings also much like himself. But, he need not remain a victim if he so manfully desires as he must but consult with himself, honor himself and what his soul has to say to the world. He already knows how he feels and what he thinks. His task is simply to say them and express them and stand behind them no matter if the entire planet disagrees. He must decide to please himself and only from that honest platform may he be in a position to actually help his brothers and sisters. It’s the conviction for which a man stands that defines him, not the fleeting and whimsical opinions of the moment! People pleasers are not born, they are made!

Down deep, don’t you always admire the man or the woman that says the thing that needed to be said despite the onlookers; the awkwardness; the tension? Don’t you love the rare soul that will tell you what they like and do not like? Don’t you trust those dear associations that are willing to speak up out of love for you, though you’d rather not hear what they had to say? In light of this, you owe yourself authenticity. You owe yourself truth and honesty, sincerity and candor. Stop bending your back for other people who aren’t bending their back towards you. Stop holding supreme the approval of people from whom, despite your arduous efforts, you will not gain approval. Stop living for and out from the fallacy of other people’s opinions concerning what is best for you and your experience! Instead do you, be you, without apology! The world needs you, not some charlatan falling in line with every whim and idle wish of the masses. The world needs you; the unique, strange, different, inimitable you! That person you will find sublimely pleasing in every way…

Just some good thoughts…

Fine Lines of Demarcation…


Drawing a line in the sand.  An old metaphor.“I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly!” exclaimed Jesus while explaining his purpose for mankind. Can you believe it? The reason God sent His son into the world was so that you and I could live a more than abundant life! God’s great promise is a life that is superabundant in every category, every facet and phase! So why do we often find ourselves living a less than abundant life? The answer can be found in the fine lines of demarcation between truth and error.

Error, in order to be believed and practiced, must follow closely alongside the genuine. If the error promoted is too far away from the truth, people will spot it and in most cases go another direction. When you travel you have to move in a certain direction to end up at the right destination. Depending upon how far you have to travel, being off just one degree will cause you to miss your location by a thousand miles. Many people miss the life they wished they could live by a thousand miles.

The truth found in God’s Word provides you with the genuine. The more you can align your life and believing with the genuine, the better results you will experience in your life. But, and its a big but, you have to be very, very, very clear on the doctrine. If you get real close but are off ever so slightly, you will miss the prize at the end. There are forces out there in the world ever working to move you away from the genuine with the goal of steal, kill and destroy. Error steals your happiness, your successes, your results. Error kills your enthusiasm for life while seeking to kill you in the process. Error destroys your accomplishments and potential rewards in the future.

The only way to be assured of the victory is to know what the Good Book says and more specifically, know what it says directly to you. For example the book of Romans, written directly to you, explains how Jesus Christ paid the full price for your sins (your missing the mark) past, present and future. He not only paid for your sins but he also paid for the consequences of those sins. Can you see your more than abundant life alive in those verses? Yet, what does the world teach you? What do the churches teach you? They tell you, you must do “good works” to earn God’s favor in your life. They become adept at condemning you and reminding you where you don’t “measure up.” Oh sure, they agree that Jesus Christ died for your sins, but in the same breath talk about sin, promote sin and laud sin! They ask if you are right with the Lord. They question if you are living your life the right way. But, how could I live my life the wrong way if Jesus Christ paid the price for everything that was ever wrong with me? Can you see the fine lines of demarcation? Can you recognize how the subtlety of wrong doctrine can cause you to spend a lifetime trying to earn something that God already freely and graciously gave to you? Can you discern how your struggle to make yourself right with God leads only to a life that is less than abundant?

Most Christians fail to utilize the power of God because they are still trying to do things that will make themselves right with God! You show me a person operating the power of God in his life and I’ll show you a person who believes who God says he is and has ceased from his own works! In order to get all of the things God says you can get, you have to persuade your mind of the things that God says are true! You have to be damn clear on the doctrine. People aren’t clear on the doctrine because they have drifted away from God’s Word and have been caught up in philosophies and tradition. I don’t blame the people for this, however… If I was taught to associate God with Him evaluating and judging my life, I wouldn’t want to read the book either. I would want nothing to do with that garbage! Yet that pervasive error is the very thing that keeps people from the only book that will actually save them!

It is religion that has done this to people. Religion, ever seeking to exercise control over man, has promoted these wrong doctrines. Religion is ever focused on what man does or doesn’t do. Religion places man at the center of things and blames him for failing to attain. Christianity is just the opposite. Christianity isn’t about what man does, but what God has done for man in Christ! Christianity, true Christianity, makes God its subject of focus. Christianity is God’s solution for a sick and dying world. Christianity is the more than abundant life promised in John 10:10…

I’m not asking you to slap your pastor or go and beat up your priest! Instead I’m asking you dig into that Word of God and see what it says about your life. Read those seven church epistles written directly to you. (Romans – Thessalonians) Stop participating in the good behavior games and learn about the freedom you have in Christ! Learn about all of the wonderful things God has already done for you and made available to you. Find out how to believe rightly and gain access to every good thing you ever wanted for your life! It’s all right there waiting for you folks, as long as you observe those fine lines of demarcation…

Just some good thoughts…

 

Take Off That Mask!


imagesI have often mused that underneath our fixed exteriors we are all very similar. We all have insecurities and doubts, with those proclaiming most loudly to the contrary, even more. We all feel embarrassed at times. We’ve all been the brunt of the joke. We’ve all done things we regret. We have hopes and dreams and ideals and visions of ourselves that we have a hard time living up to. We get mad and say things we don’t mean. We zig when we should have zagged! We get anxious; we fear the future; the past; rejection; death and disease; failure; other people’s judgment; God, the devil, life etc. All of those things we work so hard to keep secret; to hide from the world, are what makes us human beings. So, why oh why, do we toil so ardently to present an image of ourselves that isn’t real? How exhausting it is to put on that costume day after day. How maddening is it to laugh at what isn’t funny; to feign a preference for those things we abhor; to keep up appearances…

I know the types of things I say to myself at times and can imagine what you say about yourself! Many things we hurl at ourselves in the quiet chambers of our minds would provoke a fight if you said them to someone else. Yet there we are castigating ourselves for this and berating ourselves for that. Who convinced us that we are all so bad that we needed to pretend we are someone else? What got to us so deeply that we are no longer comfortable in our own skin? What? Who decided that all human beings should behave the same; have the same preferences; say the same thing; look a certain way? Who? I think if you would dare to look  at yourself honestly you would see that something tripped you up; got to you; is messing with your psyche! Something is after you man. Something doesn’t have your best interests at heart!

You can’t blame God for what’s happening, though that seems popular today when we face difficulty or distress. Yeah, some guy at church told you God was angry with you and to escape from God you had to pretend to be something else. Imagine you made a human being; gave it free-will; allowed it to make choices; layered it from head to toe with feelings and sensations; devised a mind to run it all, complete with a million variations of emotion, then incredulously found yourself shocked when it didn’t do everything you designed it to do.  Add to that having foreknowledge or the ability to know what was going to happen before it happened and then still finding yourself reeling with disgust because it made mistakes. Unbelievable, wouldn’t you say? It seems more reasonable that if you had the superior intelligence smart enough to build it, you would also have at least enough common sense to understand it and maybe have compassion towards it given it’s freedom of will to choose and often choose poorly! Ya think?

The reason we’re all making such pains to present that unrealistic , perfect image is because something or someone talked us into believing that the real ‘me’ isn’t good enough; what I really think is of no value; and that my true feelings and thoughts cannot be trusted! That something is your enemy and mine; the one that steals everything that you value; kills everything that you love and destroys that which is most precious to you. And along the way, he’s got you and me walking around pretending to be something we are not. Crazy, I know. Unfair, for sure. Unable to be changed? Definitely not!

So how can we change things around?  How can we get out from behind that silly costume and start living? The simple answer is to take off your mask! Decide to stop agreeing with things you don’t agree with! Take a stand for yourself. Be on your own side even if the whole world is on the other side. Express yourself exactly how you want to express yourself. Don’t you admire people who act without pretense? Doesn’t your heart thrill privately when someone says what they really think, be it unfashionable, politically incorrect or otherwise? That’s honest folks; being honest with yourself. Don’t be scared to show your vulnerability. If someone asks how you are doing, don’t say fine if you’re not fine! If you are afraid say so. Have you ever heard someone say repeatedly that they aren’t afraid of something? If you are a betting man, you can bet they are afraid. People who aren’t afraid have no reason to say it (smile)! So, get off your own back. I mean what chance do you have in life if you’re not even on your own side? When there is a question concerning your goodness, choose you…

The injustices; the pain and suffering in life; the things you fear are what convinced you to put on your mask and be someone else. But you don’t need to comply. You are the wonderful person God made you to be whether you ever see that for yourself or not. Your thoughts and feelings do count. They count for one just like everyone else’s thoughts and feelings count for one. You matter no less than any other person regardless of their lofty titles or accolades.

Let the world see the real you with all of your frailty, insecurity and everything else. Let the genuine you shine forth. Hey, you might be surprised to find out that people like you for who you really are!

Mr. or Ms. Human, take off that mask!

Just some good thoughts…