Friday, December 14, 2012

People-pleasing creating a false sense of happiness

This morning as I drove the kids to school my son told me how his teacher is out of school all week and he wanted to make her happy by making sure all of his work was complete and given to the substitute teacher.

This sounds good but as a person who struggles with people-pleasing I have noticed some of the same qualities I have in my son Joshua. I am fascinated by the characteristics children inherit from their parents. I never wanted my kid to be a people-pleaser. He is the child with a personality similar to my own in many ways. I can only thank my Father for opening my eyes to know this-- you can never make someone else happy. Now I am not talking about giving a gift and someone is happy about receiving a gift you gave. What I mean is to continuously please someone and then feel depressed when your efforts fall short or they are not happy with you.

For many years and including in my marriage I did favors or was nice to win the heart of my husband. Not only is this deceptive but the person you are with really does not know who you are. When my husband was not pleased with my efforts I was deeply hurt and angry. One time we argued I told him, “I just don’t know what to do to make you happy.” I remember it and think about it sometimes, back then I was serious, now it’s just funny. If my mother wasn’t pleased with my efforts of being a good daughter I was passively angry with her. I would hold this anger inside of me or withdraw because people didn’t like me or because I didn’t make them happy.

So today, without a scripture to recall I told my son as simple as I could explain to him, “you can’t make anyone happy.” Happiness is a personal responsibility. If you have a negative bad attitude you will be unhappy. We all fall short in life of doing things others don’t like or just being a human being. One day someone will be happy with you the next they won’t be happy and that’s okay. Sometimes people can be unhappy about something else and project frustration or anger onto other people. Is it right? No. But it’s life. Another dynamic of life is that good people get good and bad and bad people get good and bad. I just believe being happy, content, joyful is a personal choice that doesn't depend on what someone does for you.

I am still learning that I am in charge of my own happiness and I have found that happiness in Jesus. Yes, I get unhappy but I know where to go when I am not happy. One of my favorite scriptures is this:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

I also recount the good that has happened in the past to remind myself that an unhappy moment is fleeting. I name everything one by one what I am thankful for like the things I can take for granted like having a home, having food, etc.

And finally I think about Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord . . . ” For me that gives me a healthy perspective on whatever I plan on doing and protects me from being hurt by the approval of people.

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