Entries with tag conflict .

Help! I’m a People-Pleaser

Confession: I am a people-pleaser. As a child, I didn’t want to disappoint my parents or teachers. In friendships, I’ve always been the one who worries if I’ve upset someone. And in my relationship with God, I battle the fear that I’m not doing enough to grow closer to Him. Being a people-pleaser for me is worrying about or trying to make everyone happy with me. And it’s so tiring precisely because this goal is impossible to achieve.


And though I mean well - I tell myself I do these things because I value my relationships - at the root of my people-pleasing are several issues that actually hinder the relationships I’m so valiantly trying to protect.


1. Control


When I worry about keeping the peace around me, there is an underlying assumption on my part that peace depends on me. When I worry about the thoughts and concerns of others, I’m hoping that I can change what they think or what they are concerned about. What I see then is that my people-pleasing is an issue of control; specifically, it’s a fear of losing control over the world around me.


No one likes to feel out of control. No one likes to feel that others are controlling them. So instead, we take the reins and try to insure that others are happy. Oddly enough, our sense of control is controlled by others. And ultimately, our trying to manage our world leaves us feeling anxious and out of control.


The good news is that we have a God who is all-powerful and who is able to bring peace into our worried lives. What we need is to recognize that trying to control our lives doesn’t work because we’re really powerless over these things. God, on the other hand, is not. We can get past our people-pleasing by abandoning ourselves to God and letting Him guide us instead of us trying to control all of the minutia around us.


2. Validation


Behind our desire to be in control of our lives is an aching desire to be accepted and validated. We worry what others think about us and this causes us anxiety and stress. Our sense of identity is so wrapped up in others’ lives because we fail to keep proper boundaries in our relationships. We don’t want to hurt others feelings, we don’t want to be disliked, we don’t want to feel judged. We listen to the lies we tell ourselves instead of listening to and seeking out our validation from God.


It isn’t before our friends or parents that we are going to have to give account of our lives, it is before Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:13).


We’re so used to trying to earn others approval, we might even try to earn His, too. Jesus teaches us to not to live our lives trying to prove ourselves and our righteousness (Matthew 6:1-6,16). As Christians, we have no need to seek out acceptance from the world around us. “You have died,” Saint Paul tells us, “and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Despite our imperfections, God has reconciled Himself to us and has adopted us as His own (Colossians 1:22; Ephesians 1:5).


3. Fear


If I’m trying to control my relationships by keeping the peace, and I’m looking for validation in others, then fear is probably motivating my actions. I’m afraid of being alone or afraid of being rejected, and therefore I try to keep others happy. I might be afraid to be assertive or to hurt others feelings because I can’t handle the rejection that might come from it. But really, how can one truly live a life motivated by this sort of fear?


There are different sorts of fear in our lives. On the one hand, there’s the fear of God that we experience when we recognize we are in the presence of the Living God. But then there’s the fear of discomfort and the fear of dealing with life that keeps us running from life by living in fear. Instead of living our lives motivated by fear of losing our relationships (with people or with God), we are called to live according to the self-sacrificial love of Christ, our God who is love (Ephesians 5:25; 1 John 4:8).




Recently, I found a fun article called “The Definition Of Hell For Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type." According to the article, the worst imaginable thing for a person of my Myers-Briggs type, ESFJ, was that, “Someone you love is in dire need of practical help and you can’t give it to them. Worse yet, they think you’re refusing to help them out of pettiness and they’re mad at you.” Well, that’s spot on! It’s almost as if being a people-pleaser is wrapped up in how I’m wired to interact with others.


Though it might take work to stop being a people-pleaser, it’s even harder to try to make everyone else happy. If this is something we struggle with, we will need to work to see how we are motivated by a desire to be in control, by a need for validation, and by fear. Instead of trying to control our world, we will recognize that God is better at running the world than we are. Instead of looking to be validated by others or to prove ourselves, we will seek out a stronger relationship with God.


And instead of fear, we will live motivated by love.


In what ways do you struggle with trying to make others happy? Is this something you’re willing to change with God’s help?



Want more from Y2AM? Subscribe to our email list and get weekly tips for your spiritual life every Monday! And you can support Y2AM even more by becoming a monthly Patreon supporter. As little as $1 a month can help us continue the work we’re doing.


Sam is the Pastoral Assistant at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He grew up in Powhatan, Virginia and studied International Affairs and Spanish at James Madison University. Sam received his MDiv from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2013. He loves food, languages, genealogy, and good coffee.

Photo Credit: depositphotos


When People Hurt Us

Relationships involve risk. Whether two people relate as strangers, neighbors, friends, or family, entering into a relationship always has the possibility of either leading to connection or to pain. Choosing to be friends with someone requires us to accept the risk of getting hurt in favor of the greater hope for connection. Relating to others requires courage.


If we’ve experienced a lot of loss and pain in our relationships, it can make us inclined towards isolation as we fear more of the same. If we aren’t watchful, this can lead us to resent whole groups of people. And then we use our resentments and past pain to justify our un-Christian behavior.


We don’t have to think in the abstract when it comes to people harming us. We have all been there before, and most of us can probably think of several people in our lives right now with whom we’re still not on good terms.


So what are Orthodox Christians to do in moments like this? How do we react in the moment, and how do we move on? Is it as simple as forgive and forget?


1. In the moment


A friend becomes selfish or ignores us. The person we’re in a relationship with says something so hurtful it makes us want to walk away. A stranger on the street robs us or is rude to us.


Nature inclines us towards self-preservation: fight or flight. Either we want to argue or we want to shut down and move on. In the moment, fear motivates us to take care of ourselves because we don’t want to get hurt any worse.


Instead of fear, God is constantly calling us to peace. He brings us peace, casts out fear, and restores our hope. So in these moments of conflict, do we retreat inward to instinct or do we reach out to God to be our strength?


How we respond in moments of conflict will be determined by how we are living our lives the rest of the time. If we are turning towards God and asking Him for His guidance, if we are humble and aware of our own shortcomings, we will be more inclined towards patience with others. But invariably, conflict happens and we have to do something about it after it has.


2. Positive confrontation


In moments of conflict, we may need to step back from this situation before we respond. Otherwise, we are just acting out of fear and instinct. This may mean simply stepping back for a moment before speaking or reacting at all. Have we prayed about the situation yet? We should never act on something without first turning to prayer.


Christ calls us to bless and not to curse, to actually bless those who wish us harm (Romans 12:14; Matthew 5:44). When was the last time you made the sign of the cross over that driver who cut you off on the road? Our prayer in the moment of our frustration helps us by giving blessing to others and releasing us from our anger.


With someone with whom we have a long-standing relationship like a friend, partner, or family member, offering a blessing may require something more. When we are hurt, we can either focus on the harm itself and seek punishment (ie. shame: “you always…” “you never…”) or we can seek to heal the wounded relationship. This requires a positive confrontation: an opportunity to heal a rift or solve a conflict rather than to argue.


It is best that we be as sober-minded as possible – that we aren’t speaking out of anger or frustration – but sometimes our anger is justified. If a woman is assaulted, a child is abused, or a person is robbed, an injustice has taken place. And even Jesus was angry at injustice (Matthew 21:12, John 2:15).


Some people like to sweep conflict under the rug and never address it. But Jesus gives us another view of confrontation. He repeatedly confronted the religious leaders, He confronted St. Peter after he denied Him (“Do you love me?” John 21:15-17), and He confronts us in our moments of lukewarm faith (Revelation 3:16).


When someone has hurt us, a relationship has been damaged. This deserves to be spoken about, it deserves to be addressed. What do we need to do in order to mend the relationship? Can it be mended? And afterwards, we have to move on.


3. Moving forward


After we have addressed our hurt, we have to move forward somehow. We aren’t moving forward if we continue to live in resentment – continually judging our offender in the courts of our mind.


Our ability to move on with those who have hurt us is related to our ability to receive God’s forgiveness as well. We ask Him to “forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us,” to forgive us to the same degree that we forgive others. God has given us chance after chance to turn back to Him. Do we extend this same grace to others?


Prayer is vital to our recovery from harms done to us. And I don’t mean prayer for their repentance or prayer for them to find justice. We must pray that the person who injured us will have all the good things we desire for ourselves. We must pray that they are blessed and that God will be present with them too. It helps to have a list of names of people to pray for: of our loved ones, those who are sick, and those we struggle to love because they have hurt us. As we pray for these people on a day-by-day basis, we will find that the pain lessens over time.


But it’s neither healthy nor necessary to stay in a relationship that is one-sided or where we’re continually being hurt. Sometimes we do have to end a relationship. This will be painful too, so we’ll need to remember that it’s natural to mourn the loss of relationships. We don’t need to be friends with everyone, nor do we need everyone to like us, but we do need to be willing to pray for everyone.


We may not be strong enough to embrace them in our arms, but we have a God whose loving embrace is large enough for the both of us.




We are stubborn people, but God loves us anyway. We repeatedly turn from God, but He never turns from us. It’s important that we always frame our relationships with others in this context. All of our relationships should seek to model the love and forgiveness that God has shown us. We are called to respond to being hurt with a sober mind and not from a place of fear. After we have prayed for strength, we should address the situation with the other person. Finally, moving on means we continue to pray about the situation and commend that person to the care of God.


Do you struggle with resentment towards those who have hurt you? How is God calling you to mend your broken relationships?


Want more from Y2AM? Subscribe to our email list and get weekly tips for your spiritual life every Monday! And you can support Y2AM even more by becoming a monthly Patreon supporter. As little as $1 a month can help us continue the work we’re doing.


Sam is the Pastoral Assistant at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He grew up in Powhatan, Virginia and studied International Affairs and Spanish at James Madison University. Sam received his MDiv from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2013. He loves food, languages and good coffee.

Photo Credit: depositphotos


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