The Story of a People Pleaser

I used to think I took criticism well.  I mean, my feelings aren’t made of steel, and they have always been vulnerable to being hurt, but I generally feel like I can take what others dish out.   By personality I’m an evaluator and analyzer.  I have always been able to take stuff in, separate the wheat from the chaff, apply the wheat, and get rid of the chaff without too much emotional turmoil.

I don’t know if people are just getting more critical, mean, bitter or what have you, but I have had my feelings…by my evaluation…stomped on as of late.   This morning at work one harsh criticism sent me over the edge and scurrying to the bathroom for a good cry and to pull myself together.

Don’t get me wrong.  Constructive criticism is valuable and necessary especially in the workplace and in relationships, but deconstructive criticism is not, and I feel that I (and others around me)  have been the recipient of a lot of deconstructive criticism as of late.  I’m not perfect…far from it.  I definitely have my faults as does everyone else, but lately I feel that I have been a convenient target for others’ bitterness and anger.  Yes, some criticism may have been necessary, even needful, but the way folks go about it anymore is very hurtful and mean.  I believe people are spending so much time on the internet fostering virtual relationships with people that their one-on-one relationships are suffering (I’m guilty of this too).

Personally, I think God is also opening my eyes to the fact that for many years I’ve tried to be a people pleaser.  I’ve  jumped through everyone’s hoops every time they have said “jump.”   This is how us “good Southern girls” are brought up…to be people pleasers.  Anything less, and you’re  not a “good Christian lady.”

In fact, I’m beginning to believe that many people who claim to like and/or love me only liked me because I was at their beck and call giving them what they needed.  But you know what?  At some point the people pleaser gets worn out, and when they do the relationships built upon their pleasing begin to crumble.  You find out who really values you for being you and who only valued you for what you could do for them.  You are left with a very small circle of  “friends” if any at all.

It’s very humbling…actually,  “deflating”  is a better word… to find out the world you have built around you is made of sand, and the tide is starting to come in.  Right now, I don’t know how to process this.  Part of me wants to put on my  people-pleasing face and try to recover what I’ve lost, but another part of me deep down inside knows I’d be doing myself a great disservice.

I do love to serve others.  I do not want to become so bitter and beat down that I quit serving.  I’ve just got to find the fine line between service on useless people pleasing.

In the meantime I’ve got to see if I can find a suit of armor at Goodwill, because the backlash sure does hurt.


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