Continued from here.
The reason I was such a big people pleaser was that I deeply needed to feel like I belonged – like there was a place for me. Considering my life experiences, which included years of severe child abuse, losing my father to unexpected death as a teenager, being infertile, and parenting a special needs child, I don’t exactly “fit in” with most social groups. I’m different from most people, and being different made me feel excluded. I thought that people pleasing would lead me to feeling accepted and loved … that it would “buy” me a place at the table.
What I have grown to realize – and this was tough for me to accept about myself – is that people pleasing is manipulative. Rather than be myself, I changed my behavior to manipulate other people into liking and accepting me. I thought I was such a martyr for “being nice” to people, but my “niceness” came with a price – I expected acceptance in return. When that did not happen, I felt shame and anger.
Today, I truly do not give a hoot if people accept me or not. Of course, I prefer to be liked, but I’m OK if I am not. This is because I no longer value people’s opinions – I only value God’s. Because I know God fully accepts me exactly as I am, whether or not a person accepts me is irrelevant. If people do, that’s icing on the cake, but I still have the cake even when they don’t.
God loves me with an everlasting love. There is nothing I can ever do to lose that love. No matter what I lose, I will never lose God’s love. He always accepts me and is always with me, so I always have a place at His table. Even if nobody on the face of the earth loves, accepts, or approves of me, I always have God’s love, acceptance, and approval (through Jesus). Thus, my needs are always met, regardless of whether or not the people in my life accept me. Ironically, now that I do not care whether people accept me or not, I’m accepted—and even respected!—in most circles.
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace bending her head down, looking sad, and saying, “Okay.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]