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How to break free from being a “People Pleaser” – Words to Live by

Dr. Lonnie G. McCowan, pastor of Miracle Center of Ventura

By Pastor Lonnie G. McCowan

The need for other people to validate you, or give you permission to be amazing is very dangerous. This will cause you to become stuck and you will never realize your true potential. Most people who have a need to please people are struggling with inside fears of rejection. When you find yourself trying to do everything you can to make other people like you, or say nice things about you, it is a form of self-abuse. Self-abuse is when you stop caring for yourself. In a sense, you become emotionally unavailable for “YOU.” What causes a person to become a people pleaser and neglect their own dreams and goals in hopes that others will like them, is generally something that happened when they were very young. At some point, they were probably criticized consistently growing up. Having an early experience of crippling criticism from people that you look up to like parents, teachers, or peers, opens the door for this anxiety to please people for acceptance.

If you fail to get free from this you will begin to neglect with passive aggression, you will criticize yourself and be very sarcastic in conversations making yourself the punch line of the joke.

One of the biggest things you will do is overload your life and schedule trying to help someone else with their dreams and goals, while neglecting yours. Eventually this will destroy your relationships because you will never truly be happy and eventually it will show in areas of your life. You’ll start becoming more concerned about other people’s family, schedules, finances, health, etc., than your own. This neglect will eventually leave you stressed and depressed because the demands that you put on yourself because trying to please other people creates a cycle of defeat. It’s like being in quicksand; you slowly go down. The worst thing about this is you will be taken advantage of eventually. Even people who are not wanting to take advantage of you will find that you are overtaxing yourself to please others and they might just go along with you because they think they are doing you a favor by letting you do them a favor.

How do you conquer this? First of all, you have to stop neglecting yourself! You do this by refocusing. Take the energy and time you are using to care for others and take care for YOURSELF. If helping someone is hurting you, you must back out. Get busy exercising. Join a club. Do something for you and don’t feel bad. It’s okay for you to give yourself attention for a season. Here’s another thing you can do. Practice saying, “No, I apologize. I can’t do that.” It is a legitimate answer. You really don’t need to explain beyond that. The statement, “No, I apologize. I can’t do that,” will eventually cause people to respect you because you respect yourself. Remember every single day we are training and teaching people how to treat us by the way we treat ourselves. If you neglect yourself people will neglect you; If you don’t take your time seriously, people won’t take your time seriously. I met a friend of mine for coffee at a local Starbucks. We set the time for 9 a.m.; he arrived at 10 a.m. First, you have to know the only reason I was still there is because I always bring reading and writing material so that no matter where I am, I can turn it into my office. When he arrived one hour late, I asked him if he’s the kind of friend that if I left my wallet sitting on the table with money in it would he take my money out of my wallet? He answered of course not. I asked why not? He said because first of all, I’m not that kind of person and I know how important money is to people. I looked him straight in the eyes. I asked why would you take an hour of my time then? I’ve been waiting here for one hour and you never called to say you would be late. I will never get that time back and time means more to me than money. I then told him I will not meet and have coffee with him again until he could do better with keeping his word about his time. Needless to say he apologized and said it wouldn’t happen again. We meet regularly now. Not only is he not ever late but he’s early. Why? Because I trained him how to treat me when it comes to my time.

You can’t be afraid to speak up for yourself in a loving kind way but you must be firm. Of course there are times when it’s unavoidable: emergencies, etc. I’m not talking about those times, I’m talking about the times people deliberately take advantage of you because you allow them. That’s called people pleasing. Take your life back people will love you more when you love you more.

Hear Pastor Lonnie each Sunday live at the Miracle Center, 38 Teloma Dr., Ventura, CA, (805) 644-7722

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