I want to start off by saying that the people I admire the most in life are those who OWN who they are and are confident in their own skin. You can tell they have made the decision to be unapologetically them no matter the setting they are in and who they are around. And no matter what others say or think, you can always count on them to be true to themselves. I just love that! Who doesn’t want to be around someone who is authentically themselves? It’s almost like them being themselves gives others in their presence the comfort and permission to be their true selves too.
I believe that every single one of us is called to live this "free." We don’t have to just admire others who are living free, we can BE FREE. And guess what? We ARE free to live this way. God has given us the space to do so. My personal belief is that Christ died so we can live free. But I am aware that freedom is easier said than done. It is a journey and to get to that place of freedom, we have to first tackle “the need to please.”
To me, “pleasing people” is one of the biggest struggles in this life. And I believe this struggle is so much more intense since the rise of social media. Most of us are trying to find our place in the crowded space of social media. We try to figure out what makes us stand out. And sometimes, this goal can cause us to step outside of ourselves and our personality to grab the attention of others. This can also lead to the never-ending battle of pleasing others.
You may be thinking, what is this people-pleasing that you keep talking about?
People-pleasing looks like...
Pushing aside your needs to accommodate the needs of others
Needing to please others for reasons that may include fear of rejection, insecurities, or the need to be well-liked
Seeking approval and validation from others
Rarely accepting credit or praise
Acting like the person around you
Always saying "yes."
Apologizing too much
You agree, even when you disagree
Constantly burdened by other people's feelings
Do you see yourself in this list? I can say that I see myself in a few of those things listed. Sis, the first step towards living free from the opinions of others is acknowledging that there is a piece of you who thrives and feeds off what others say. And that’s okay! (I finally admitted this to myself last year.) It’s about having an honest moment with yourself. You may be struggling with people-pleasing now, but that won’t be you always!
Now before going any deeper, I want to say that I don’t think we should live a life that runs over people and completely disregards their feelings. (I am a big believer in having a community/village of people that you trust.) The problem is when what others say and think is the motivating force for what we do. It becomes an issue of people-pleasing when we start to base our decisions on someone else’s approval or lack of it. I can admit that there are times where I may not even do certain things just because the thought of someone else having a negative opinion about it scares me into doing nothing. And that can feel like bondage. Living to please people can be overwhelming and downright exhausting. And we don't need any extra stressors. We should be living our best life, sis! That's why living to please God is so much better, just one person to please.
For the next part of this blog post, I wanted to share with you some insight into a few people that I know who are doing their best to live “free.” I wanted their wisdom to inspire you and me to live a life of freedom and to be true to ourselves. And let me say, they dropped dimes of wisdom! Enjoy!
I asked all four of them the same question…
Q: When and How did you make the decision to just “do you” and not put so much weight into what others have to say?
A: “I think naturally we’re all people pleasures. We all want what others have, etc….However, coming to a place of true contentment involves you and God ONLY. No human will EVER fully satisfy you no matter how hard you try, how in love you are, etc…It is ONLY God and you. And it's also important to recognize that we serve a FREE God, who sent Jesus here for us to live a FREE life.”
A: “When it comes to just “doing me”, I think one of the biggest lessons I have learned, mostly unintentionally, is that it is hard to “do you” when you aren’t fully aware of who you are. So I think what has helped me is to always do my best to be thoughtfully and honestly aware of myself—what I want, how I am feeling, who I want to be, etc…
I think when you are grounded in the truth of who you are, it is easier to recognize when someone’s thoughts about you don’t align with what you know to be true about you. When you know who you are, you can better decipher who is speaking the truth to you, and who is simply spouting off options based on their misguided perceptions of you.
I still struggle with people-pleasing, but I am working to reach a place where I am so confident in my truth that I am not willing to qualify or compromise it to make someone else comfortable with it.”
A: “Well 3 things….
I remember hearing Amanda Pittman talk about how she does care what other people think…but doesn’t value it over what God says about her. I felt that!!! She based it on you can’t serve two masters scripture. And I agree with her and it was freeing for me….I care what people close to me say about me but other folks, naw lol. ”
Read Isaiah 2:22 and Galatians 1:6-10
(Referencing Queen Vashti in Esther Chapter 1-2)—“She chose herself over the king and Persian culture. Even when the King talked nasty about her, she did not come back to defend her reputation. She held her ground! I love that story. I think we give Queen Vashti a bad rap.”
A: “We should seek to please God and not man. When we seek to please other people, they can fail us. God is a just God, and he is faithful. He will NEVER let us down. The apostles were rejected because of their message, because of their faith. They were rejected by many. however, they did not let go of their faith because they were rejected. They stood for what they believed because God was what they needed. They didn’t need other people’s validation.
The majority of the time, when we are loved by many, we are on the wrong path. The more you are isolated and the closer to God can sometimes be a sign that you are going in the right direction.”
So there you have it, sis!
I hope you can take something from everything that was shared. I came away with several lessons from the interview.
1. It is important to know that the only permanent source of affirmation that we need comes from God. Anything else from anyone else is temporary.
2. In order to get rid of that “need to please”, we have to have a solid foundation of who we are. It is a journey that starts with fully accepting ourselves.
The first thing we should do is become rooted in who we are and then from there, we can begin to filter out what other people say.
Throughout each piece of advice, I found a common thread. One word popped up in my mind and that word is “BOUNDARIES.” Sis, it is okay to care what other people say but we can’t let it dictate how we live our lives. The most solid foundation we can have is to find our identity in Christ. Why? While people’s opinions of us may change, how God sees us never changes. Never forget that!
Cheers to living life as the most authentic version of you.
A Sista still figuring it out.