Until recent years I was a people-pleaser. It was important for me to be liked by others, and if their acceptance meant my having to jump through hoops, well that was what I was willing to do. As I came to love myself more and more, I stopped this destructive habit in my personal life, but still found it painful to have difficult conversations in professional relationships. I just found it very hard to accept that I wasn’t pleasing everyone I was trying do a good job for. The more displeased they were, the harder I tried. I see a correlation between this dynamic and that of a child trying to win the love, acceptance, and affection of a parent. It was only recently that I realized when it comes to loving myself enough to be my own advocate, it has to cross over into all areas of my life.
I feel so blessed, because when I struggle with something, God doesn’t say, ‘Forget it, you’ll never learn this lesson!’ Instead, I am tested again and again until I’ve mastered it. Now I know some would think a loving God would spare us the pain, but I believe we are here to grow and learn. This life is school, and death is our graduation. And God is good to allow me to take the same test over and over until I don’t even consider it a test anymore.
I had a chance to be retested recently when a client was unhappy with each attempt of mine to create something wonderful for her. I tried and tried and became frustrated by continued rejection, and then I came to a point where I realized this partnership just might not be a good fit for us. That happens, and it’s perfectly fine, so why was I personalizing it? As soon as I found this way to detach, I calmly explained I would not continue on with the project, she would only have to pay me for the work I had done so far, and I wished her well in finding the right person to bring her vision to life. I was surprised, and happy, when she told me I was the one she wanted to work with. So of course, at that point I felt I had to set some parameters for continuing on, which I did, and she accepted.
It felt liberating to find a way to nicely say, “Enough” to someone. I learned two important things. I realized that part of the reason situations like this made me so upset was because I was upset with myself – frustrated at not being skillful in handling things like this, with my inability to do so leading to my being upset with ME! The second thing I learned was that it’s really just a matter of finding the right words to say and the right way to say it, so I’m advocating for myself in an unemotional and fair manner, leaving the other person’s dignity intact. And this was easy once I asked myself how I would want to be told.
Thank God we never stop growing and learning. As I’ve stated and written many times, I am a work in progress. Neither God, nor I, are finished with me yet!
Deborah Perdue, RScP
Author of “Grace of Gratitude Journals”
and “Grace of Gratitude Reflections”
and “Path of Gratitude Coloring Book”
all of these and much more at www.graceofgratitude.com