Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church

Too often I try to stay popular by pleasing others, but taking the path of people pleasing leads to emptiness and bitterness. I got this understanding by realizing my propensity to always say “Yes” is really a reflection of my selfishness. How so? Because people pleasers are addicted to receiving positive responses and can’t bare the feeling of not “being liked.”

I’ll admit, I am a recovering people pleaser. Since I can remember I wanted to make people happy. Much of that desire stems from a sanguine personality that desires to have a blast in life and enjoy people’s company. However, over the years I have discovered that although I was putting smiles on people’s faces through my compliance I was creating for myself a bitter heart that resented people’s requests. So in order to avoid having to say, “No,” I would try to avoid being asked.

The bitterness I started to feel towards people’s requests had nothing to do with them, but it had everything do to with feeling insignificant. Yes, I was busy helping others, but I wasn’t accomplishing what I considered important. I was allowing others to dictate my goals and align my priorities and the only person to blame was myself.

Thus, I started the process of listing my top goals in life. What do I want to look back in 40 years and be proud I did? Then, I started to assess where my time, energy, and resources (Finances and Abilities) were being spent and realigned them to accomplish what I considered significant. Easier said than done. However, the key to protecting what I deemed significant is learning to say, and mean, the boundary word, “No.”

  • “No, I am sorry, I can not commit to doing that at this time.”
  • “No, I am sorry, we won’t be attending that.”
  • “No, I am sorry, but we have already committed to something else.”
  • “No, I am sorry, but that is the time I spend with my family.”
  • “No, I am sorry, I do not have time to commit to that.”
  • “No, I am sorry, but right now is not good time for us to do that.”

The word, “No,” protects what you declare as most significant. Think of it this way: whenever you say, “No,” to something, you are saying, “Yes,” to something else. You can’t have or do everything in life, and trying to have everything will leave you with nothing.

Take some time this week to write out your top three things you want to accomplish over your lifetime. Then, assess if your time, energy, and resources are being spent to produce those results. O…and get used to saying “No” to well-meaning people and admirable causes, because although those things may make you popular, saying “No” will bring a feeling of significance.