I remember what it felt like to taste people-pleasing for the first time. I couldn't get enough of it; the desire to lick the spoon clean became more important than the actual baking of the cookies.
I bet you've already predicted I'm going to give an example from my childhood; perhaps an inner child wound from a parent I could never impress? It always has to be about the childhood right? Wrong.
While I'm sure that most of my tendencies started in childhood, I'm not going to paint you a false picture that they are the reason I ran out of fuel at the age of 31. The moment I remember tasting people-pleasing for the first time happened in the workforce. Granted, I was still a child in my eyes,age 22,but in the view of society, I was an adult and I "better act like one."
How do adults act?
Rushing. Overworking. Extra large coffees. Meetings on the weekend. Fights over salaries and bonuses. Talking about coworkers behind their backs. Complaining about your boss. Wine, wine, wine. Booze. 5 minutes of a snooze. Repeat.
A people-pleaser doesn't notice they're acting in survival mode when they're constantly getting recognized and buttered up. Why would they!? Praise for gain feels like fuel but really it's a leaky hose.
I was a teacher who genuinely loved her students but I also loved impressing others too. I would overwork and over-prove myself to make a point. Working hard will get you that raise, no doubt. For me, I even got promoted at the end of my last year of teaching...right before I quit. I had to learn the difference between working hard and burning out.
What I realized is that other people are really good at catching people-pleasers. They will do anything to make you feel special. "Unique" from the rest. They will give you all the praise publicly and you'll always be getting those awards. This is what is now known widely as "love bombing."
This tactic is used in an attempt to make sure you stay compliant. It's often turned against you when you voice your concerns.
"Well, look at where that hard work got you! You're being promoted, you earned awards...I don't know why you're complaining."
People-pleasing and bullying go hand in hand. You often feel confused about your place with the other person because one minute they're placing you on their pedestal and the moment YOU get a different perspective than them, they make you think you are crazy.
Teaching wouldn't be the first time I would taste people-pleasing.
When I left teaching, I set sail out into the world of New Age teachings. I quickly fell into many snares and traps of proving my worth by how much "secret knowledge" I had, how much I hated Western medicine, how much vegan food I ate, how much I've ascended & how many rituals I did for the moon.
I was love-bombed right away. I was even warned by complete strangers about certain teachers and bosses in my life, yet, I dived right in.
I noticed I was in a trap especially with certain groups that were "all love" but really they were "all or nothing." If I wasn't an all or nothing vegan or an all or nothing 'don't support Wal-Mart-er,' the energy changed & I noticed myself being cast out of the circle of "love."
I don't think people realize how much they actually do this whether it's intentional or not, whether it's a learned behavior or not--it always breaks my heart to see a group that says they represent love but really it's about authority.
It's one of the reasons I will not join a church until or if God says it's time. I trust my relationship with God more than I trust the people on YouTube who are telling me "You don't really know God unless you go to church."
No thank you. I do not need anymore bullying, fake prizes or highways that lead to dead ends. God knows my heart. God knows I'm sensitive. God knows where that church is & when I will go. He is in no rush. He also knows I have more to learn through Him about faith & trust.
Something I've noticed about people who are passionate about the "revolution" or changing the world on all sides--Christian, new age, hippies, activists, CEOs, anyone with a message really-is that they will love you when you lean into their message, but when you question them, they become a different person entirely.
In other words, they've become irritated by the fact that you don't need them to think and come to your own conclusions and you don't need their approval for whether your conclusions are good enough for them.
My questioning is never an attempt to have authority over another, but it does reveal if you'll treat me the same as you did before even if I believe or think differently than what would make you comfortable.
I think one of the saddest things that can happen to anyone when being lovebombed by an authority figure, including myself, is that you unknowingly pick up that habit and do it to someone else. I'm just lucky enough to have had a friend who called me out on it.
I felt dirty afterwards and I knew that this had to come to an end & that's when God really showed me that the path I was on was not for His glory, but for man-made construct.
That's when my fuel ran out and I felt like I was standing on the side of the road, confused and broken. I couldn't even put my thumb out for a hitch because I knew there was no one coming in the physical to save me but Christ in my heart.
I remember reading a book in high school about a girl who had been shot in the Columbine shooting. The gunman asked her if she believed in God. She said "Yes" and he shot her. That story always brought a bone chill to my beingness & I think it was the first time I was ever really afraid to believe in God because of the ramifications of what others might think.
Now, I'm saying things like Christ saved me & I am honestly not even sure how to describe it to you. Everyone has their own story of how Christ saved them and I think that's one of the reasons that I love this dude so much. He isn't concerned about saving in the same way everytime because he truly understood and understands humans.
I guess if I can try to simplify it for you, it's like Christ made it simple for me.
All of the striving for people's approval just didn't make sense anymore. This doesn't mean I have understanding now. I'm still highly confused and most days I have no idea how to explain Christ's work. Nothing just magically disappeared. The tendencies are still there, it's just that before they appear there's a HUGE pause. I'm not talking about a meditation that I forced onto myself. I'm talking about the pause of three--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There's a moment to pray before I go into what could tempt me to fall backwards again. There's a moment to look left and right before I get hit by a car. And even if I do get hit, there's no ladder I need to climb again. There's just more pauses.
I wonder if Jesus is just working differently these days. In the Bible, it seemed like he cast the demon out instantly but it seems like he works through us slowly now. Perhaps so that we can not just glorify his work, but truly understand the process to which we remember WHO we really are.
Sometimes, God won't send anyone to come pick you up off the side of the road. But He will ask you to look down to your feet Child, remember Christ Child & start walking through the wilderness Child.