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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Please Don't Be a Pleaser

I used to be a people-pleaser by nature.  I found that is a role that can wear one out and frustrate them.  I believe most people--even world-class diplomats--eventually realize you can't please everyone.  From what I see, people-pleasers run into one or more of the following brick walls in that regard:

  • There are some people who are perpetually unhappy.  (Eeyore crowd)
    • They are so miserable in their life, that no matter what you do or say to cheer them up or to try to get along, they will play the role of Eeyore.  That is to say, see a dark cloud hovering overhead even in the most sunny day or circumstance.
    • When you recognize this, you realize that it is pointless to try to 'make them happy'.
    • It is not your role to make them happy.
  • There are some people who are perpetually aggrieved.  (Perpetually offended crowd)
    • This doesn't have to be personally against you, it is more a case of them seeing circumstances or others in life have dealt them a bad or unfair hand.
    • Their energy or purpose in life is derived from playing the role of the perpetual victim.  Life isn't always fair and there is a time for righteous anger, but there is also a time for gratitude.  There is a time to realize that that you don't have to see yourself as a victim.
    • They may actually face circumstances in which they are victimized.  This isn't about being victimized, it is more so about a conscience effort to play (or better yet stay) the victim.
    • There is nothing wrong with empathizing with them in appropriate times, but staying in the victim role with them could drag you down as well.
    • They seem to show an immunity to ever seeing things as fair or seeing that they could be wrong.  
    • Even when you work out a problem with them (or they concede a point), they will move onto another victim role.
  • There are some people who have just decided for whatever reason, good or bad, that they don't like you.  (Haters)
    • They may show an unwillingness to forgive you for something you said or did that properly offended them.
      • It can be trivial.  For example, embarrassed them in front of a friend. 
      • It can be significant.  For example, repeated something that was said in private or confidence to you or take advantage of them.
    • You may have been sabotaged (wittingly or unwittingly by another)
      • You may or may not know about the sabotage.
      • Sometimes no matter what you say or try to find out about it, they are immune to seeing it or talking about it.
    • You may have done nothing wrong (and you may not even be aware why they don't like you)
      • Something completely harmless you did or said was unreasonably taken out of context.  In other words, you weren't in the wrong, but they are easily or wrongly offended.
      • Something you didn't do that they expected you to do might have offended them.
        • Doesn't matter if their expectation wasn't unrealistic.
        • Doesn't matter if their expectation wasn't clearly conveyed. 
  • There are some situations in which you are in the middle of two disagreeable factions   (Warring factions)
    • If you try to please one of the factions, you risk upsetting the other faction(s).
      • Working on pleasing one of the factions, might be seen as favoritism.
      • You may just be able to deal with one faction at a time and it isn't meant as favoritism so much as order or more pressing situation.
    • If you try to please all of the factions, you risk upsetting all factions.
      • All sides might claim that you are favoring the other side(s).
      • All sides might believe that you are just trying to placate them and not take their concerns seriously.  Akin to King Solomon splitting the baby in half.


These are just brick walls I see, I suspect there may be more that I don't OR some people's experiences may differ.  In any case, these are at least some of the circumstances in which we realize that we can't please everyone.  So, exactly what do we do in these situations?  Below are a number of ideas to consider.
  • When you are dealing with someone who is unhappy and can't be 'made happy', you don't take it as your mission to 'make them happy'.
    • You do what is right by them, not to get kudos from them, but because it is the right thing to do.
    • You support them, but not enable them or go in the tank with them.  In the analogy of your home, you stay in the house with them and guard the house for them, but you don't stay in the same room for them while they are throwing a pity party for themselves.  If and when they are ready, they will find their way.  Whether or not they see or appreciate your support, at least you know you've done right.
    • You can love them, but that doesn't mean you have to attend their pity party.
  • When you are dealing with an aggrieved person, you have to put boundaries on your dealings with them. 
    • Where they are righteously aggrieved, you can listen to or even support them but that doesn't necessarily mean you bear their cross the way they do.
    • Where their aggrieved nature is not righteous.
      • You may try to 'amuse' them for a time while you figure out if it is righteous.
      • You may have to step away from them and let them deal with their own nature.
        • You can't necessarily 'fix' or help them anyway and you risk them resenting you for trying.
        • There is a risk of alienating or upsetting them when you step away.  But, often times you have to do this for your own mental health anyway.  Drinking from someone else's 'poison' can cause you to get 'sick' too.
  • When you are dealing with a person who doesn't like you.
    • If you know you are part of the problem, it is important to make amends where necessary.
      • Once you've made amends, don't keep piling on hoping to get them back in your corner.  
        • It might not give them time to absorb your amends.
        • It might end up as effectively trying to bully them into accepting your amends.
      • Amends are meant as much for you as them.  Give them a chance to forgive you, but it is also a way of surrendering the problem to clean your side of the road.  If they never forgive you, at least tried.
    • If you don't know if you are part of the problem, it is important to try to ascertain if you are.
      • You can reach out to the other party and observe to them what you see is a cold chill and ask what's wrong.
      • If they tell you what's wrong and it includes you.
        • If they are right, make amends where possible.
        • If they are not right (not being realistic), try to clear up any misunderstanding and try to let them know you weren't trying to offend them or wrong them. 
          • Sometimes it helps to 'apologize' even if you aren't wrong so they know your good intentions.  Leave it at that and if they don't accept it, you should let it go.
          • Sometimes, they are so wrong, there is no way you can show them good intentions.  At that point, let it go and understand some people weren't meant to like you.
      • If they don't tell you or won't admit that it includes you, you can let them know if you did anything to upset them that you are not aware of it, it was not your intention and then let it go.
    • In some cases, it is clear you really aren't the problem, but they chose to personalize it to you.  Sometimes, it is just best to let it go and understand that not everyone will like you in this life.  Sometimes people will dislike you for absurd or misplaced reasons.
  • When you are dealing with 'warring' factions (siblings/friends/etc), you just have to do what you think is best.
    • Sometimes it is showing both sides deference.  This means taking into account the concerns of all sides and trying not to show favoritism.
      • Sometimes that is impossible not to 'favor'.
      • Sometimes no matter how even handed you are, one or more side will still think you are showing favoritism.
      • Even if this doesn't work at least you know in your heart that you did was right.  For example, if you know as a parent that you've treated your children as equally as possibly, you shouldn't worry past that.  You can't view how they see your parenting.
    • Sometimes, you just effectively have to pick a side.
      • Often times one party is clearly in the right.  You pick based on the best information you have at the time.  
      • This doesn't mean excluding other sides or broadcasting to them whom you are favoring.
      • Chances are you were in a no win situation anyway.  Whatever action you took would offend or upset one or more of the parties.  So, if you do what you feel is right, you at least have that to lean on.  Let God be the judge of your actions, not others.

Anyone with any kind of sense of morality or healthy spiritual background has a sense of right and wrong.  We generally know what is doing right by others.  I believe we are called on to get along with our fellow man (and woman).  This means not just with our friends or group, but also with our rivals and even enemies.  I believe this call has its limits, however.  While I believe it is important to sue for peace with those who don't like us, it is important not to use the pursuit of peace/neighbor as a tool to feel accepted or validated.  Our lives, our attempts to 'please' others should be made when it is the right thing.  Furthermore, if we try to sue for peace/friendship, it shouldn't be at all costs.  In many cases, we can let it be know that our 'door' is always open, but not stand around at the door waiting for them to come in.  In some cases, if they are too much of a threat, we just have to close our 'door' for our own safety and to let them know that we will not accept the threat.  Ultimately, the takeaway to this whole blog is we have to:
  • Try to avoid our efforts to 'please' others on our own need for validation/acceptance.  Do right by people because you care about them or love them.  Sometimes, this means even those who don't or won't like you back. 
  • If you base decision on trying to 'please' other on what's best for them rather than what you will get out of it, chances are better they will appreciate/respect you more for it.
  • There is no way you'll ever make everyone happy and if you spend your time pursuing that end chances are that you'll end up being the one that is not happy.
So, be kind when you can or should, but please don't be a pleaser.

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