The Fear and Guilt of People-Pleasing

chimsartlife asked a question:

Hello Pastor Park, recently I’ve been looking outside of myself and seeing that I talk too much about myself. I remember you once had a podcast in which you talked about being a people pleaser. I’ve noticed that I tend to puff up the things I am capable of doing in order to impress others. But it makes me sound like I’m full of myself. I’ve tried and I’ve prayed about it. But my way of stopping is to avoid talking as much. I’m a talker. Now I just run from my normal social interactions.

Hey dear friend, I’m guilty of the very same thing, and I go through the same self-conscious twitchiness. “Am I being humble enough? Am I bragging too much? Am I being annoying right now?”

The problem is that once we’re aware of our own problems, we tend to beat ourselves up too much. Especially Christians. We are experts at flogging ourselves like it’s a spiritual experience. We’re not always so good at resting in God’s assurance of us.

I’ve learned that the solution to overcome our issues is not to run from them, but to find new ways forward for something better. If you only “run from sin,” you’ll start to second-guess yourself so much that you’ll hardly be yourself at all. Part of receiving the acceptance of Christ is knowing that he has wired you a certain way, and you can use it for good instead of worrying about going bad.

Here’s what I mean. You mentioned you have a way of puffing yourself up to impress others. If God has gifted you with uplifting speech, you can use this for good. You can subvert it by bragging about someone else. You can encourage someone for what they did last week. You can build others up. You can give over the credit others and to Christ. You can even admit where you fell short and what you would like to do better next time. It’s not to get false sympathy, but to remind yourself that you’re human and you’ll always need God’s help.

The heart issue of people-pleasing is that we’re not really thinking of other people (that irony). We’re not thinking of how to serve others, but how to get them to like us. By turning this around, your entire axis will change to serving others instead of squeezing from them. And you know, it’s not an altogether terrible thing to talk about what you can do. I think so long as you know that God is the one who’s doing it, you’ll have both the humility and confidence to praise what He’s done through you. You want people to know what God can do, and that’s always a good thing.

— J.S.

Also read: How Do I Humble Myself When I Get Attention?

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