As a people-pleaser like myself and like many perfectionists, worrying about how other people react is often something that has held me back or caused me unnecessary grief. From a young age, we can easily learn that from our actions sometimes come negative reactions from people we would otherwise hope to please. This instills in us a sense of grief or dread when someone doesn’t react the way we had hoped.
Sometimes I have thoughts like:
Did I just make her feel awkward or uncomfortable? *dread* I’ll never say that again!
I know so-and-so doesn’t like things like this, so I just won’t ask/bring it up even though I want/need to.
I’m worried someone will be offended/disinterested by my decision to do/say this, so I just won’t.
In truth, a lot of us live life under a shell, where we are protected and made safe. We never leave. We just poke our heads out long enough to say hi and hope that that doesn’t offend someone. Taking a risk at possibly making someone feel a certain way or making them think something negative about ourselves? Not an option.
Enter: living in a life of fear.
Lately, I’ve realized that much of me is living in fear instead of in faith. I live certain moments by the basis of just hoping not to experience fear or rock the boat in any way. And that’s no way to live.
What this really comes down to is this: worrying about other people’s reactions is just dumb because 1) they might not react the way we think (which is most likely dramaticised) and because 2) I can’t control their reaction anyway, so why worry about it?
Enter: living life the way I want to and have been called to regardless of other people’s insecurity, beliefs, or attitudes.
I find that most the bad reactions I get from people are actually not my problem. I invited her to a party and she said she doesn’t “do parties.” I asked a friend to help with a project and she said she’s not interested because she’s too busy. I made a remark about something and a friend made a snide remark. The fact that the person is not comfortable with whatever it is I said or did (or, in other words, has their own insecurity about it) is not my problem!
Obviously, there is a fine line between not caring about something you know a friend is sensitive or truly insecure about. But in general, I don’t even know what people are insecure about. So how and why should I worry about it? Especially to the point of it keeping me from asking or saying things?
It’s very freeing for me to realize that I am not actually responsible for others’ feelings or what they are insecure about. This realization may sound a little silly, but it’s been a big part of my perfectionist recovery. I have had to accept that I have no idea how people will react, even if I know them well, and that’s that. I am not in control of others and their emotions. So I’ve just have to let it go.
Of course I still worry, but for the most part, I’ve stopped worrying about what other people think. Carrying that worry around is so heavy and overbearing. I know it’s not in God’s plan for me to carry a load that heavy around. It’s His plan that I accept what I don’t know and simply carry out what I do. And if that offends someone along the way, at least I can say that it wasn’t my intention.
As I’ve become aware of my own insecurity, although some of it has been directly caused by others, it’s my choice to let it affect me the way it does. And it’s not anyone else’s problem that I am insecure about certain things. How would they know? Since I know this about myself, it’s a lot easier to let go of other people’s insecurity too.
Interaction with others will never be perfect – that’s for certain. I am learning each day, though, that I can choose to be confident in what I do or say regardless of how someone may react. What freedom!
Questions for You:
- How does this topic resonate with you?
- Are you the type to worry about what others think or do you interact with someone who does?