I probably wouldn’t have said that people pleasing was one of my problems until God led me to begin seeing myself and some of the obstacles and barriers that had been holding me back through His eyes. This year I have been particularly challenged in the area of relationships. You see you can’t escape or lose hold of something if you don’t know that you are captive, yet knowing that you are captive doesn’t make it any easier to be free, what I’m saying is this:
With knowledge and awareness comes conflict, the conflict of staying as you are because it is safer and easier or taking that step into freedom which requires struggle and pain. There is a point in time when that decision is no longer a decision, a point you have reached where the need to be free and express your true self outweighs any cost involved, when I reached that place the breakthrough began.
It was with these eyes, this knowledge and this struggle that I witnessed something which really made me think about the origin of people pleasing and the root of it in my own life.
It was something very innocent really but I caught it and it made me think. It was recently my nephew’s birthday and my husband asked him what he would like for his birthday. The exchange went something like this:
Hubby – “What would you like for your birthday?”
(Nephew looking up wide eyed at his uncle … silence).
Hubby – “Lego?”
Hubby – “A remote control car?”
(After a few more ideas met with wide eyed stares)
Nephew – “I know what I want for my birthday, I want you to teach me Hebrew!”
Now it sounds innocent right? But as soon as he said these words, I knew that this was not what he really wanted for his birthday. He was in a conundrum which I’m not even sure he fully realised on a conscious level, a place of conflict where the desire to please his uncle that he looked up to warred against another desire to have what he really wanted which probably wasn’t on that list of ideas. I thought two things: either my nephew was trying to win favour in some way knowing that his uncle was really into God or he had become so use to trying to please others that he really had no idea what he wanted – both point towards the seed of people pleasing already implanted within him!
How did my nephew get to this place at such an early age? The same way that it happens with most people pleasers, our parents. We learn to people please because we have first learnt how to parent please. This year I discovered that my inability to say no really came from my parents not allowing me to say no and this had disastrous knock on effect on the relationship decisions that I made throughout my teenage and adult life when it was crucial that I could feel both comfortable and confident saying no. I realised that I had lived most of my childhood life for my parents, living to please them not necessarily because I wanted to make them proud but because I wanted to have an easy life. It was far easier not to say no and to be a ‘good girl’, saying no and saying what I really thought or felt came with punishment so I subconsciously became afraid to do so, hiding and locking away my true self behind a mask of people pleasing feelings, thoughts and behaviours.
How does this relate to the Compliant Christian?
I came across the term Compliant Christian when studying the personal development unit of the Christian counselling course I was on, it might surprise you to find that most Compliant Christians are also People pleasers.
Signs of a People Pleaser
People pleasers are often perceived as being very organized, easily liked, helpful and supportive’ courteous and considerate, always smiling, interested in others’ welfare; cooperative, generous with time and energy, ready to volunteer, accept delegation easily and are very loyal.
Underneath these outward behaviours are inside thoughts and feelings which tend to be the following:
- Fear – of losing approval, failure, not being good enough, rejection, identity, self-worth
- Denial of reality which often results in self-neglect especially of own rights and needs
- Secretly feeling lonely or isolated – not understood, not good enough
- Insecure about self and personal abilities, skills, knowledge etc.
- Feeling overwhelmed and burnt out from all the people pleasing and the fear and stress that accompanies it often leads to urge to escape
- Inability to say no or feel intensely guilty when saying no
- Feel like a victim or taken advantage of
- Unorganized or unable to keep all the commitments that they have said that they will be able to fulfil
Do any of those sound familiar to you?
I can honestly say that I have felt many of these and that these have come to light within the last 6-7 months alone.
Signs of a Compliant Christian
- Needs to feel needed – which may lead to creating needs so that they feel needed/important
- Often end up working in their own strength becoming über busy in order to please/satisfy real/perceived needs others.
- Get burnt out easily and often through all their people pleasing
- Attracted to authority figures – a compliant Christian gravitates towards those in authority/leadership because they believe that they can help them fulfil their needs
- There people pleasing is born out of fear of rejection or fear of punishment,
- Their people pleasing ways come with a price tag yet they find it difficult to articulate what they truly want in return so often end up feeling bitter, resentful and hostile towards themselves and others.
Although maybe not so obvious at first, you can see that there is quite a lot of overlap between the two especially when it comes to the underlying motivations (thoughts/feelings) which drives outward behaviour.
How do we break the bonds of our people-pleasing ways?
- Yearning to be free and to be you and invest in the process – A BIG issue is FEAR – but as the scriptures tell us we have not been given a Spirit of fear. In order to change, grow and break free you need to be willing to face your fear and move past it.
- Open to truth – self-awareness and reflection are extremely important as is honesty. Although you can’t lie to God, you can lie to yourself and delusions and denial will only keep you stuck and bound for longer.
- Willing to prayerfully confront unhealthy traits –as I mentioned at the beginning knowing you have to change doesn’t often make it any easier as change and growth hurts, also we can try to do things in our own strength and fail which can make us feel a lot worse about ourselves.
- Submission to the leading & work of the Holy Spirit – understanding that God’s way is best and being willing to be led by the Ruach is very important to experience true success and breakthrough in your life. Be ready for the long-haul journey.
You can be transformed from a Compliant Christian to unleash the true strength and beauty already present within you. I want to help you.
Let me support you in finding and expressing your inner strength and beauty so that you can soar and fly free.
I have designed a programme that aims at helping people break free and breakthrough obstacles in their thinking, feeling and behaving which limits them from truly growing and being free to be themselves (read Sacha’s testimony here). Find out more about the Breakthrough, Growth and Freedom programme now.