Earlier this year, I shared a mantra I’ve been using that revolved around learning, growing, and staying curious. It really helps to look on that and remind me to keep moving forward.
Lately, I’ve been working on a new, much shorter mantra to help me with my problem of people pleasing.
I’m really hard on myself when it comes to pleasing other people. I want to be helpful. I want to support others. I want to show other people that I care about them and love them. And the way to do that is to make them happy, right?
Sometimes this manifests itself in the form of volunteering too much, or not saying no when I probably should. But the harshest form of people pleasing for me are the critical people in my life.
You know those people who always seem to have these expectations for you that you never seem to meet? Or the ones who constantly feel the need to one-up you? The ones who constantly move the finish line on how they think you should live your life or express your love or care for them? The “you don’t truly care for me unless you…” kind of people, whether they say this exactly or their actions speak this to you in some way.
They feed into my insecurities, make me feel like I’m not enough and they have it all together. And it’s easy for me to believe the lie, to tell myself that their critiques are really improving me, pushing me to strive for better. But that’s not actually the reality. And it doesn’t even have to be a legitimate person, the voice in my head gives me more criticism than all my people critics could combine.
So, here’s the mantra that I’ve been telling myself when the critical speak rears its head at me.
I had a professor in college who once said at the beginning of the semester. “When you turn in a paper or take a test, don’t tell me that you could have done better. In that situation, with your resources and distractions, you did the best you could.” At first, I thought he just didn’t want to hear whining or complaining, but really, he was giving us the freedom to grow and learn.
I don’t talk to myself the way I talk to a friend. I don’t give myself the grace and space that I give my friends. And I need to start being a good friend to myself. I mean, if I knew someone who had lost three babies, deals with bouts of anxiety and depression, and still gets up in the morning and tries her hardest to make other people happy. I would think she is a rock star. Sure, she has imperfections. Sure, she loses her temper or her patience or both. Sure she has her cranky days. But I would tell her she isn’t defined by her good or her bad, but by her God.
I don’t have everything figured out. I’m still learning and growing as a person. Hence, the mantra I tell myself every morning. Today, in this situation, with the resources, and talents and knowledge I have, with all of the distractions and criticisms and anxieties and depressions I will sift through today, I am doing the best I can. And that is true for my friends, my critics, and for you. In whatever situation you find yourself in today, give yourself grace and space and just do the best you can.
And whatever we can’t do, God will handle.