The Disease to Please
Updated: Feb 26, 2019
“Babe, do you think I made sense when I was explaining my point?” I asked my husband Drew as we drove home after a night with friends.
“Yes, hun,” he reassured me.
“Do you think I offended her?” I continued. “Ugh, man! I wish I did not volunteer us for this weekend. I know we haven’t really had any time together or time to rest,” I complained.
“Do you think Monica likes me? I really hope she does.”
Poor Drew. I am sure by the end of that conversation my husband wanted to jump out of the moving car. Sadly, these types of questions are common for me, and they stem from a deep place of insecurity.
Over the years, I have realized that I have a ton of insecurities and a huge problem: I have “the Disease to Please.” Have you ever heard of this disease? It is when your mind is constantly bombarded by stressful thoughts of other people’s opinions of you. It means I want everyone to like me all of the time. I make decisions and live life based on how others will view me, and I can’t help but overanalyze my every move because I’m afraid of being rejected. A pretty bad disease, huh?
Let me give you an embarrassing example of how “the Disease to Please” reared its ugly head in my life. Before sharing, I must say that this incident is one I am not proud of and is one of my low moments in life.
It was a girls’ night, and like most girls’ nights, we were all awake past our bedtimes chatting away. Everyone was sharing their thoughts and opinions on life and relationships. Then out of nowhere, the conversation shifted. The topic changed to a certain individual of whom the girls in the room were not fond.
For most of the conversation, I remained silent. But in my heart, I really wanted to stand up and tell them to stop. However, I knew that if I listened to my heart and asked them to stop, I would disappoint them. I was convinced they would hate me and never invite me to hang out with them again. So I just sat there quietly, trying not to make eye contact and praying no one would ask me for my opinion. (I know I was a coward.)
But wait: the story gets worse. Despite my best efforts of trying to appear invisible, the attention turned to me. They asked for my opinion. Instead of listening to my heart and doing the right thing, I gave in. I started saying things I regretted. I was selfish. I gave in to talking negatively about someone else just so I could look better and so I would be liked. I still regret my words and actions that night. I was afraid of rejection, and because of that, I compromised my convictions.
I have a feeling I am not alone in this whole “people-pleasing” thing and that I’m not the only one who has “the Disease to Please.” Can you relate? Have you ever felt like you waste a heck of a lot of time caring about what other people think of you?
How do you know if you have “the Disease to Please”?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Do you ever find yourself worrying about what people think of you?
Have you ever let the fear of how people will view you hold you back?
Do you find yourself doing and saying things just to gain someone’s approval?
Do you ever worry too much about whether someone will like you?
Are you afraid of being rejected and losing that person’s approval or relationship?
Do you struggle with resolving conflict?
Do you ever compromise how you truly feel or what you believe because you are worried about others’ rejection?
Do you find it hard to say “no” to people?
Do you make decisions based on what others want?
If you are raising your hand and saying yes to these questions, then most likely you are a people-pleaser too and have “the Disease to Please.” My heart breaks, because I know we miss out on so much because we are too busy worrying about others’ opinions, and we allow those fears to hold us back. It is time for us to shift our mindsets so we can start living our best lives! AMEN SISTERS?
Change your Mindset
So my terrible people-pleasing story doesn’t end there. The day after our girls’ night, one of the girls asked me, “Why don’t you ever open up to me? Do you not trust me enough?” I was so confused.
She continued, “I totally felt you being cold and standoffish last night when we were talking about Jane. I understand if you don’t want to have a close relationship with me.” And then she ended the conversation.
WHATTTTTT?! I was beyond shocked. I had participated in a horrible conversation and compromised what I knew to be right all so she would like me, accept me, and want to hang out with me again. Despite all my efforts, she still rejected me! Wow did I learn a ton from that mess-up!
First—and I think this lesson is obvious—I learned I need to pick better people with to spend my time with. Second, I learned not to compromise my beliefs or who I am for someone’s approval. Third, I learned even if I work so hard to try to win someone’s approval, that person might dislike me in the end anyway. Last—and this is the biggest lesson— IT WASN’T WORTH IT.
People-pleasing is often not worth it, especially when we compromise who we are in the process. My mindset has begun to shift: I would much rather live true to myself and embrace the fact that EVERYONE is not going to like me.
Not EVERYONE is going to like you… Get over it.
I once heard the following quote: “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” The fact that not everyone is going to like you is a harsh but true reality. No matter how hard you try, you will not be able to please everyone. You will inevitably attract some and repel others, and that’s okay. In fact, shouldn’t that be preferred? Wouldn’t you rather spend time with people who love you for who you are instead of with those whom you must constantly strive to please?
Over the years, people-pleasing has caused me to compromise in areas in which I never should have compromised, and it has robbed me of so much joy. It’s a disabling trap that has kept me from doing what I love. It keeps me from moving forward, growing, and taking leaps of faith. I can’t live my best life when I am worried about pleasing others.
I hope we can continue on this journey of freeing ourselves from “the Disease to Please.” I haven’t been fully cured of it, but as life goes on, I learn, grow, and take steps to help myself in this area. One of the things I do is coach myself daily when I notice I am giving in to people-pleasing. I remind myself I need to do what I feel is right and what I feel I am called to do regardless of what others will think of me. I remember that it is impossible to have EVERYONE like you ALL the time and that you will never regret being true to yourself.
I often think of empowering quotes, Scripture, or songs that help to set my mind where it needs to be. I like to journal about life lessons and my feelings to help me process how I should respond in a way that is true to myself and not based on winning someone’s approval or trying to avoid rejection.
Now I want to hear from you on this topic. Are you a people-pleaser? Do you have any advice concerning what helps you overcome “the Disease to Please”? Please share in the comments below.
I found these quotes to be extremely helpful in my journey. Download them for free here.