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People Pleasers Anonymous. I’m Really Just Selfish.

My husband and I are personality test addicts. Our first date involved a fifteen minute discussion on Myers Briggs, Enneagram and Gallup strengths (that’s when I knew he was the one lol). For fun we like to send each other Youtube videos on typing, and we even have some subscriptions to more in depth typing services. We’re really cool ya’ll.

I’ve had all sorts of personality info jumbled in my head for weeks/months now. It all started when we began exploring some of the information on tribe versus self on a popular youtube channel. (I swear I won’t get much more in detail than that lest your eyes glaze over).

It was at this point that I started to question some things I truly thought I knew about myself.

What I “used” to “know”:

Fact 1: I’m a people pleaser

Fact 2: I care very highly (maybe too much) about keeping others happy.

I’ve posted about these facts on Facebook, I’ve waxed eloquent about these facts with friends, I’ve shared fun and inspiring memes on facebook about these facts.

You know what I figured out this week?

Those facts are all wrong!? Or at the very least they are not correct in the way I assumed.

What??? Say it aint so!!!

And I’d be willing to bet if you identify with those statements they may also be wrong for you.

(I hear you now… “Hold up woman! You don’t know me. I really do those things”. Just bear with me with an open mind for a bit please)

 

I’ve begun to realize that what I used to look at as a weakness derived from caring too much, was actually rooted in some deep seeded selfishness and lack of self worth. It has been a jarring fact. It was not an easy realization. And all of my therapy, counseling, self development and personality testing didn’t reveal it because I wasn’t ready to see it before.

 

Let me explain things a bit more thoroughly.

 

I’ve realized I’m a largely tribe oriented person. What I mean by this, is that the people around me have way more influence over my emotions and the way I see my place in this world than anything else. For about 50% of the population this is true. The other half are more secure in how they feel about people, (doesn’t mean they are good or bad with people, it simply means that what people think about them doesn’t take up much of their mental space) but are more sidetracked by ideas, philosophies and things.

 

So, in recognizing that I tended towards being a “tribal” oriented person I began to see some of my strengths and pitfalls. There are many strengths to reference another day, but for now I want to focus on those three “facts” I posted before, and elucidate a bit.

 

Those two facts were based on the assumption that I really truly care about what others think. It assumes that I’m always coming from a good place, and that I just care so deeply about others being happy. It has this “I’m so selfless” pride behind it.

 

Guys time for some brutal honesty here. Underneath all of that “tribal care” there’s a lot of insecurity and a bit of selfishness.

When I am working my butt off to keep everyone happy and cared for, underneath it all there can be a very immature desire to prove my worth. The deep insecurity under it, the question that runs through my head most days is… “am I really enough?” When I try to assuage the tribe, make everyone happy, and keep things plugging along smoothly, often the unspoken assumption is that the tribe will love and validate me back. That I will find my worth and identity in others approving of me.

It can also slyly sneak in the ways I feel “hurt” by others. For example, “I do so much for people and all they do is focus on this one negative!” or, “I’m owed some kindness, look at everything I do”.

Sometimes it is more obvious than others. Sometimes I will specifically go out of my way to ask for a ton of opinions before making a decision, just so I don’t have to bear the full brunt of possibly being wrong. While I’d never blame someone else for a bad decision, it is a way to distance myself from the results of that decision. It is a way to avoid coming to terms with my own worth and value if I underperform or make someone unhappy.

This is actually very selfish of me. When I require others to validate me and confirm my own worth, it is placing a burden on them they are not meant to bear. It is up to me and me alone to go to my heavenly Father and have Him confirm my worth. It is up to me to fill my heart and head with the knowledge of my deep meaning and purpose, and not to go seeking it in affirmations that I am “good” or “talented” or “kind” or any other nice thing.

 

It’s also pretty darn needy and often has the exact opposite affect on people… especially those are not quite as tribal centered as me. Sometimes my efforts to be liked evoke frustration, disgust, or simply aversion from others. It often has a way of attracting scenarios that put me in a bad light as well. When I doubt my worth, then it pulls towards me all sorts of opportunities to put that insecurity on display. Whether I mean to or not, if I doubt who I am underneath it all, then it will feel to others like guilt, neediness, manipulation or selfishness. And the truth is, in a way, it is these things. I’m deeply doubting my worth and using all sorts of negative tricks to try to receive the validation that I’m enough.

 

This whole blog post may be entirely self serving external processing. I know I’m not the only one who deals with this, but who knows if it will resonate with the average reader. But, the message I do feel should resonate with everyone is this…

We are really good at lying to ourselves. We’ve spent our whole lives doing it. And unless we are determined to flesh out weaknesses, we probably won’t ever find them. And, the real true weaknesses that most negatively affect us in the world around us will be the ones we will be most blind to. They will be the ones that make us feel like the world is against us. They will be the ones that cause the conflicts and schisms in our lives. We will successfully make these issues about other people/things/ideas, but it will take a lot of self work to FULLY realize OUR part in these scenarios.

If you think you take a lot of ownership of your weaknesses, just know that you’re probably still blind to some of them. I know I most likely still am. Know that when you identify some of the deepest weaknesses they will shake you to your core. You will question who you are, and most things about yourself.

 

But there is hope. No matter what those weaknesses are, they are the places in which the Lord can make the biggest changes and heal the most bloody wounds. They are the places that hurt the most simply because we aren’t meant to function within them without help. It can be truly painful to acknowledge our own selfishness, or manipulation, or victim mentality, or (pick your poison), but the one we most hate is often the one we struggle with the most at our core, and are most primed to have deep healing flow through.

 

I pray for all of us who seek to understand ourselves, and in that process actually come to focus even more passionately on the one who created us. May we not fear the weakness under the surface, but welcome that revelation in order to turn it over to the one who can truly heal us.

 

Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels