This article is all about people-pleasing.
I am, by nature and personality, a people-pleaser. It’s something I’ve grown to accept about myself. Therefore, this advice I take personally.
There is both a blessing and a curse involved in people-pleasing.
On the one hand, we serve people with a diligent desire to meet their need in love—the blessing. But on the other hand, we find we are driven by other people’s agendas more often than we should be—the curse. In people-pleasing we are submissive by nature.
Submissiveness, in certain ways, is blessed, whilst in other ways, it’s cursed.
Some people submit ‘to God alone’, but they may not rationalise that submitting to God alone often means submitting within our relationships. Submission is a touchy subject. It is so situationally dependent; our only aid is discernment.
Now, there are times when submitting is not wise. That is the purpose of this article.
When What May Be Termed As Selfishness Is Actually Assertiveness
I know of a footballer, who, at a young age, had stress fractures in the foot. He required rest as part of his rehabilitation program. But his peer group was an active one. He loved to exercise with them. The trouble was much of this exercise required the use of his feet. Occasionally he would aggravate the injury and this set his rehabilitation back.
He submitted both to the peer pressure and his own desires to exercise. But it wasn’t wise. In submitting, there was detriment caused to him.
But this young guy became very disciplined. He decided he couldn’t reach his goals if he continued to engage in exercise irresponsibly. He had to be a steward of his own body.
He thought about how he would respond to offers to become engaged in exercise unrelated to his rehabilitation. He planned to prompt himself to make an assertive response: “No, sorry, but I really need to focus on getting this foot right; please, keep me in mind for the future, in case, at the right time, I can join with you guys again—but I won’t now.”
It was an assertive response. Also, words such as “need” and “won’t” (underlined above) are better than “want” and “can’t” in the same context.
But such a response can also be deemed by some others as selfish. Well, this is where the lines blur. What, for some, is selfish is wisdom to others. Indeed, to caring others assertiveness—taking responsibility for one’s own body—is the desired attitude.
When we are prone to people-pleasing there are times we are ill-advised to submit. It is better to pray for wisdom for those occasions when assertiveness would better control our response. What some may deem as selfishness is actually wisdom when we are responsible enough to make the right decisions for ourselves.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.