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Category: People-pleasing

It’s Hard to be a Woman of Mystery

Posted on 12/07/15 by DaleWilsher 1 Comment
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Not long ago I burned the side of my neck with a curling iron. OMGosh that is a tender spot! And I knew based on the pain, the smell of flesh, and an aging décolletage that it was definitely going to leave a mark. And it did. And it looked just like a hickey. Oh brother. My teenage daughters were like, “Hey mom, what’s that? And then as they moved in for a closer look, they asked, “Is that a….hickey?” I could tell by the dread in their eyes, that they desperately to hear me say no. Which I did. Does anyone want to see their mother with a hickey?

 

When I saw my friends later that day I told them about the burn before they could even ask. I didn’t want them wondering about me too. And when I got a massage a couple of days later I tried to be strong and ignore the burn but when the massage therapist asked “That mark on your neck, will it be sore if I touch it?” I immediately moved in with my answer: “No, it won’t be sore. And no, I am NOT living a racy life.  That’s not a hickey.  I’m not that kind of girl.  Blah, blah, blah, I just burned my neck on my curling iron.” Very calmly he uttered “Don’t worry. There’s no judgment here, ” and I was humiliated.

 

Why couldn’t I have just responded with a simple No? Why did I need to explain? Why did I care what this guy thought? I thought I was farther along than I thought.

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Do you ever do this? Overexplain, overclarify or overjustify?

 

If so, you may have a teensy issue with people pleasing because people pleasers always feel like they have to give a reason for everything they do.

 

Here’s what it looks like:

You get a call to help out as a volunteer at school, work, church, you name it. You can’t do it. Fear sets in because now someone might be mad at you, or think less of you, or call you lazy and selfish behind your back. So you launch into a 15 minute diatribe on why you can’t do it. You rattle on and on about your hard life and your overcrowded calendar (sometimes embellishing for the sake of effect) until the caller understands and either rescinds the offer or approves of your No, which you never really stated directly. By the time you get off the phone you have shared more information about your life than you ever meant to. But at least now, you have successfully managed someone’s opinion of you. And you try to forget the TMI.

 

So what’s a girl to do?

 

Become a Woman of Mystery.

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You can hold something back. You can be mysterious and still be authentic. You do not have to expose your whole heart to be real, especially when your revelations are motivated by a desire to gain approval, be liked or be seen in a certain way. Image management is usually at the heart of TMI.

If a woman of mystery received the same volunteer request she would simply say “I’m sorry, but I’ll have to decline.” Direct and respectful. No explanation needed. And yet

Baffling.

Puzzling.

Enigmatic.

Did you notice that she didn’t go into extreme detail. She didn’t insert commentary. She might have answered a follow-up question to her No with kindness and respect but she didn’t give the farm away in order to stand firm.

 

The caller would probably be left dazed and confused by the lack of propaganda, especially if she is used to people pleasing women or is herself a people pleaser, because most of us gals don’t like women of mystery.

 

  • We want others to prove why they can’t say Yes to us.
  • We want to know the reason behind their No and it better be good.
  • But mostly we resent the freedom of a woman of mystery to say No without explanation because we don’t enjoy that same freedom.

 

And yet we can. That same freedom is available to all of us. We can know our purpose and values and live them out through our choices. We can say Yes or No even if it disappoints people. Do you know that 60% of Christians don’t know their calling or their purpose so they live off purpose, pressured, exhausted, resentful, and overwhelmed? That is a crime. And it is not the life that God longs for us to live.

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So get out there and embrace your mystery. Today you are a woman of mystery. You can make choices based on the voice of God, your values, and your purpose rather than the opinions of others.

 

As a life coach I help women articulate their values and understand their unique purpose so they can live a satisfying, Godly, and peaceful life free from demands of others. If you would like to find out more about a coaching relationship, email me at dwskram@comcast.net.

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Does Anyone See Me?

Posted on 09/21/15 by DaleWilsher 1 Comment
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Whenever I get the opportunity to speak to a group I ask each woman to fill out a survey card which ask six questions about their personal sense of invisibility, such as how appreciated, seen, acknowledged, known, valued, recognized (you get the picture) she feels. I’ve received back almost 2000 surveys to use for my book, called Invisible, which is moving along at a snail’s pace aka God’s timing.

 

While I haven’t tallied all the scores, I usually see a variety of responses. Young moms might score a 6-7 on visibility by their children, while moms of older kids usually report much lower numbers. As a mom to teenagers I’m right there. Some women feel sort of seen by their spouses while others feel really appreciated and loved. And single women, especially if widowed or divorced, tend to experience greater invisibility than others. Sad, but true. I’m in that space as well.

 

When I ask women How visible do you feel to God? I see a lot of high scores, but since I speak to Christian groups, that’s not much of surprise. And I’m happy to see that.

 

What I have never seen before was a survey in which someone gave themselves all 10s-feeling fully visible, valued, and venerated by their children, their husband, and God. Most women, even if they score themselves high on visibility with God, still find themselves caught in human blind spots.

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That is until this week. A woman in the audience of one of my talks this past week scored herself as feeling perfectly seen as a mom, a wife, and a child of God. And all at the same time. Amazing! Her children are rising up and calling her blessed for all her care and effort on their behalf. Wow! Her husband is appreciating her and filling her love tank in deeply satisfying ways. Where do I get some of that? And to top it all off, she is so secure in her faith that she knows that God sees her always.

 

Really? REALLY? I think not. (Well, that last part about God is true.)

 

We live in a world where people, our families even, are busy with their own lives and may not take notice of us. We live in homes where people need to focus on important tasks like changing diapers, making dinner, and paying bills and cannot always stop to glance our way. We work with people who don’t share our values and therefore don’t see our strengths or talents.  And then some people just ignore us. We cannot be on everyone’s radar.

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We cannot always be seen. Sometimes it’s no big deal and sometimes it really hurts.  Like a recent survey card: Q:  Who do you wish to be seen by?

A:  My father. And that response was from a sweet adult woman. Invisibility happens to a lot of us.

 

If we can admit that we feel invisible then we have taken our first step on the road toward visibility, because there is a God who sees us all the time.

One of the names given to God back in the days of Sarah and Abraham is El Roi. It means “the God Who Sees Me.

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It was given to him by an invisible woman, Hagar, who was disrespected, undervalued, and even despised. God met her in the desert and showed her that she was on His radar. He knew her, loved her and valued her greatly even though she had no idea. Being seen by God created an immunity for Hagar to the blindness of others. She willingly went back to her invisible life a changed woman because she knew that she was seen by God.

 

How about you?

 

When your husband asks, What do you do all day? do you know that God knows the answer to that question because He sees you every single minute of the day?

 

When your children are oblivious to the meals, laundry, and activities you provide, do you know that God sees your service to your family?

 

When your boss fails to recognize a job well done, do you know that God sees your work and says Well done, good and faithful servant?

 

No matter where we are in this journey called life, we will all be hit with waves of invisibility because we were made to be seen. The trick to handling that unnoticeable feeling is found in realization that God always notices us. So the next time one of those waves comes crashing down on you, remember the name, El Roi, the God Who Sees You, because His loving eyes are always upon you.

 

If you would like Dale to share the message of El Roi at your next women’s event/retreat, contact her at dwskram@comcast.net.

real faith speaking

 

 

Favor or Freedom?

Posted on 07/08/15 by DaleWilsher 4 Comments
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images-6How many times lately have you tried to make someone like you? or not be mad at you? or think highly of you? Come on now, be honest. More than you’d like? Me too.

 

People-pleasing or image management is a problem for most women because we were made for relationship. We need connection with those around us. Connection is the food that nourishes our spirit and soul. It’s the fuel that powers our mood, our energy, and our health. It’s the source of our spiritual, emotional, and physical life. Connection is the reason that Jesus came to Earth and died on the cross. It’s even the answer to that compelling question, Why am I here? Life is all about connection.

 

But we get tripped up when we think that connection only happens when people are happy with us, when we comply with their wishes, or when we don’t disappoint them. This faulty thinking leads us to seek the favor of others but in doing so we lose the freedom to be our authentic selves.

 

In seeking favor we lose our freedom.

 

We edit.

We cover.

We hide.

 

We might reveal some of us, but we definitely don’t reveal all of us when we try to gain the favor of another. We don’t talk about how we disagree or where our goals might be in conflict. We read minds and then act in ways that are more slanted to what we think will gain us the approval of others rather than our what our authentic feelings or thoughts actually are. By seeking the favor of others, we sacrifice the freedom to be our unique selves.

 

ee Cummings said it best:

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But God made each of us with unique thoughts, limits, choices, feelings, desires, dreams, strengths and goals. He designed us specifically for the work He has for us to do and for the relationships He wants us to enjoy. If we let others tell us who we are then we have given up the fight for an authentic life.

 

The desire to connect with others coupled with a temptation to morph ourselves into shapes that please others creates a predicament in the formation of authentic relationships.

 

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So what’s a girl to do?

 

Put God in charge of your image. Let God give you favor with those around you so you don’t have to sacrifice your freedom to get it.

You can have both favor and freedom.

Just look at Joseph. He was given favor with the Egyptian Pharaoh not because he made nice with the leader but because God gave it to him. Ruth was given favor with a wealthy bachelor named Boaz who eventually became her husband not because she tried to impress him, but because God gave it to her. Ester won the favor of the king over all the other virgins not because she tried the hardest but because God gave it to her. Not one of these people had to sacrifice their unique design, original thoughts or even their obedience to God to gain the favor of others. It was simply given to them. They enjoyed both freedom and favor.

 

But its not guaranteed. There are some that God will not grant you favor with. Before Joseph gained the favor of Pharaoh, he lost it with Potiphar when he was falsely accused by his wife and then thrown in prison. Some people won’t like you or think highly of you and others will get upset and angry with you. But when you put God in charge of your favor it’s up to Him, not you, to make a connection happen.  As I love to say “You can be the best peach in the box, but some people just don’t like peaches.”  Let God be in charge of the taste buds of those around you.

 

But the most important thing that us people-pleasers need to do is make God the only audience that matters. We need to seek God’s favor alone for this is where true freedom is found. Isaiah 66:2 tells us how to do that:

 

“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.”

 

God favors those who don’t seek to impress or hide their brokenness. With Him we are free to be a mess. God favors those whose authentic hearts are open to Him more than others, surrendered to Him more than others, and in love with Him more than others. With Him we are free to be real, weak and needy.   On a bad day, that is some great news!

 

When we seek the favor of others we have chosen the favor of people over the favor of God but when we seek the favor of the Lord we can have both. Favor and freedom can only be found when we seek God’s favor.

 

 

“May your favor be on us, Lord our God; make our endeavors successful; yes, make our endeavors secure!” Psalm 90:17

 

 

How can you put God in charge of the favor that you usually seek?

 


People-pleasing is Not God-pleasing

Posted on 01/09/15 by DaleWilsher 5 Comments
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People-pleasing is Not God-pleasingMy daughter is very much a “people pleaser.” What should I do about it?

This question, posed to a parenting ministry not long ago, received an answer that absolutely shocked me. In a nutshell they told this parent to enjoy their compliant child and her need for approval. They framed people-pleasing as a good problem to have, one that makes children seem sweet and pleasant toward others.

As a recovering people-pleaser who has struggled to find her worth and value, and to speak honestly to others, I can now say loud and proud, I absolutely disagree with their advice.

People-pleasing is a tendency that some children demonstrate that causes them to focus on the approval of others. Every child wants to be loved and accepted and many kids learn that in order to receive that love they need to earn it by “being” or “doing” what others like. People-pleasing, which starts as parent-pleasing, originates as children are loved conditionally when conforming to the needs and desires of their families. Instead of becoming more of the unique person that God intended to be, people-pleasing children become social chameleons, changing their personalities, thoughts, and emotions to match their environment so they can meet their very real needs for love, acceptance, and security.

What is important to note is that people pleasing is not pleasing to God. It’s not a loving pattern or a good problem to have; it’s selfish tactic, a way to meet our own needs because we are focused on our own image–being liked, avoiding conflict, and looking good—not on loving and serving others.

The apostle Paul pointed this out to the Galatians and Thessalonians, telling them “We are not trying to please people but God” and “If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” because he knew that we could not serve two masters. We cannot pursue pleasing both people and God at the same time. We must choose.

But this choice comes with challenges. When we choose to teach our child to please God, she may start to articulate different thoughts, feelings or desires than we have. This can make us feel uncomfortable because they are contrary to our own. We may find it harder to parent a God-pleasing child because we may not understand her motivations or her needs. We may come to find out that her personality is a far cry from ours and feel confused by the differences. Finally, as she learns to please God and listen for His voice, our child may be led in directions that are counter to our familiar paths and we may feel inadequate to guide her.

All of these parenting challenges will build our faith, enlarge our hearts, and bring about a greater need for our Savior as followers of Christ. Raising people pleasers won’t accomplish any of these goals, but raising God-pleasers will.

If I were able to advise the parent who posed the question about her people-pleasing daughter, I would recommend these things:

• Let your daughter know that she doesn’t have to agree with you to be loved by you. She can say No. She may need to do some things that she doesn’t like because parents are still in charge, but she can hold a different opinion or thought than you.

• Let your daughter know that she doesn’t have to be your personality to be accepted. She can be different and still belong in your family. There are four different temperaments and we are usually a blend of two, designed with a major and minor type. Each temperament displays a slice of God’s image as a thinker, doer, talker, or watcher, and even members of the same family will be different from each other. Not one of my four children is my exact blend. Encourage your child’s unique strengths, help her with her unique weaknesses, and nurture her God-given design, especially if it’s different from yours.

• Let your daughter know that she doesn’t always have to be happy, nice, or compliant to be secure in your family. Difficult emotions like fear, sadness, and anger will rise up in her as indicators of a deeper stirring in her heart. They are not to be ignored or denied, because if they are, they will sink deeper into her soul and create a bitter root that will “cause trouble and defile many.” Let her express her feelings, validate them, and then teach her to gain self-control over them.

Our children need to know that their worth and value is unquestionable and independent of their behavior. People-pleasers believe that they must choose between belonging and individuality, so let’s teach our children that they can have both—they can be accepted and be different, they can be loved and unique, they can belong just as they are.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you,
in order to bring praise to God.
Romans 15:7

Dale-blogBy Dale Skram
Mom of four
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
real.life.speaker, real.faith.writer, and real.life.coach

– See more at: http://www.1corinthians13parenting.com/people-pleasing-god-pleasing/#sthash.Ut3AGLJp.dpuf

Teaching our Children to be Peacemakers

Posted on 09/08/14 by DaleWilsher No Comments

Posted on September 8, 2014 at 1Corinthians13Parenting.com

Teaching our Children to be PeacemakersHow many times have you told your children to act nice, play nice, or be nice? Too many to count? Me too.

Many times as Christian parents we can believe that being nice, acting nice or playing nice is how we love others and reveal Jesus to those around us, but the word “nice” is not mentioned once in the Bible. 

Not one single time.

While we may tell our kiddos to act nice in order to correct a problem behavior, more likely we are telling them to not make waves, not hurt someone’s feelings, and to keep their mouths shut. 

 

My daughters have experienced the usual ups and downs in their relationships with friends. With 4 daughters we do A LOT of girl drama. The ups are warm and wonderful and the downs are always hard and messy and usually involve someone saying something hurtful or someone feeling left out.

When my girls come to me with these problems, it’s always tempting to say things like, “Let it go,” “Make it work,” “Apologize and forgive” just to keep the status quo and to ensure that others will like them. Somedays when I am tired I just want them to pretend that nothing is wrong and be nice. Ugly, I know.

This passive side of me wants them to be peacekeepers, temporarily avoiding conflict, especially when we know the families involved. You know what I mean?

But Jesus calls us to something bigger and better. He calls parents and children to be peacemakers. 

Peacemakers aren’t nice but they are kind. When a peacemaker experiences a problem, they go to work to correct, reconcile, and restore true peace in relationships. A peacemaker is courageous enough to voice their feelings in love and respect and invite the other party to do the same. A peacemaker must be willing to enter into potential conflict by allowing tensions to be voiced to get to the underlying issues of the heart because only then is true peace and reconciliation even possible. 

As parents we need to make sure that we are encouraging our children to love others as peacemakers rather than peacekeepers. 

We need to encourage them to be brave enough to risk speaking the truth in love so that they can bring the peace of God into their relationships and our world. Jesus, the ultimate peacemaker between God and man, is known as the Prince of Peace, but he was killed for not playing nice.

Don’t ever settle for nice, when you can make peace.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Matthew 5:9

How do you help your kids distinguish between being kind or being nice?

Dale-blogBy Dale Skram
Mom of four
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
real.life.speaker, real.faith.writer, and real.life.coach

– See more at: http://www.1corinthians13parenting.com/teaching-children-peacemakers/#sthash.rdSXMWOp.dpuf

Setting Limits on my Thoughts

Posted on 05/16/14 by DaleWilsher 4 Comments

imagesLately my mind has been busy ruminating over people and their thoughts of me.  Fun, huh?  I don’t even realize it’s happening until my mood sours and my self-confidence declines, and then I notice that my brain has gone on ugly autopilot.

 

One aspect of divorce that is hard is the “taking of sides.”  Sometimes it’s not so bad because they were more my wusband’s friend than mine, or a business associate that I didn’t even know, or a new friend of his since the separation and divorce.  But then there are the friends, or maybe I should call them acquaintances, who stand behind my wusband, that really surprise me.  When that happens my brain tries to make sense of it all.  Is their support of him an indication that they have always liked him more than me?  Maybe.  Are they mad at me?  Could be.  Do they think terrible things of me?  Who knows?  My brain makes assumptions and those assumptions usually hurt.

 

I was working with my coach to try to understand why I was struggling with these negative thoughts and why they were stuck in an dark eddy spinning round and round my head.  Within a few minutes it was clear to my coach (but of course not to me, which is why I love my coach) that I was asking questions to which there may not be answers.  Once I talked myself out she asked, “Dale, if you aren’t able to understand their behavior, what could you do instead?”

 

Hmmm.  That was a hard one.  I was speechless for what seemed like several minutes but was really closer to several seconds.  And then it hit me.  What I could do was set limits on my thoughts of them.  I could choose not to entertain thoughts of them.  I could do that.  Because

 

“What others think of me is none of my business.”

 

I make assumptions about people’s thoughts way too much when I have no idea what they are thinking of me.  And the truth is that I don’t know them, not really.  And they don’t know me.  These are not the people that I trust to share my heart with, so truly, they don’t know me.  They may know about me but they don’t know me.

 

But that doesn’t stop me from letting my assumptions about their thoughts affect my behavior.  When I assume someone doesn’t like me, I distance myself.  And while they may not like me, I’ll never know because I have pulled away.  It’s a reactive way to live and I hate it.  I want to live proactively, choosing my behavior, living in integrity and setting limits on my thoughts.

 

Setting limits on my thoughts is the same thing as loving God with my mind.

 

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  Matthew 22:37

 

Even though it seems as though our minds are hard to control, we do have choices.  We are in charge of our thoughts.

 

I’m reading a great book called Your Brain at Work by David Rock and I just learned that while humans don’t have much ability to intervene in the signals sent out by our brains initially (ambient neural activity), we do have veto power, the ability to choose whether to act on that impulse.  Which is why the apostle Paul told us to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5).  It is possible to take control of our thoughts and set limits on them so the enemy won’t spin lies in our head.

 

When I am in conversation with myself (on autopilot in my mind), I am swimming in my own limited knowledge and my own personal bias.  My thoughts are swirling in a vacuum with no hope for change.  That is, until I turn my conversation with me into a conversation with God.  Since “His thoughts are not our thoughts” I am probably not thinking like God when I am on autopilot, so I am working on asking,

 

What are your thoughts on this subject God?”

 

Isn’t that a great question?  (It’s not mine.  It’s from John Eldridge in Walking With God.)  If I let God tell me what to think about people or situations, then I know it will be true.  And I know that it will set me free.  Free to live without the approval of others.  Free to work on my own character defects without condemnation and judgment.  Free to be me.

 

So this week I am working on taking control of my negative thoughts by becoming aware of them.  I noticed this was much harder to do while driving, showering, and washing dishes-those routine activities that tend to put my mind into autopilot.  I learned that the medial prefrontal cortex of our brain is part of our default network that becomes active when we are not doing much at all.  So watch out.  I am also going to notice my thoughts and if they are swirling, I am going to ask God what His thoughts are.  I’m going to confess and ask forgiveness for the times when I choose not to take control of my thoughts and to ruminate on unsolved mysteries.  And finally I am going to replace those ugly thoughts and assumptions by thinking about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”   (Philippians 4:8)

 

How do you handle your thought life?

 

If you are stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts that are keeping you from great relationships with God, others or yourself, I’d love to work with you.  Email me at DWSkram@comcast.net for a free 30 minute inquiry session to see if real.life.coaching might be a good fit for you.