Pleasing Everyone, All the Way to Burnout

Written by Mike Jantzen

dealingwithanxietySome of us are hardwired to try to please everyone. We were the kids growing up who actually listened… well, most of the time. We cared what our parents and teachers thought and wanted to make them happy. It was easy to become a people pleaser because the applause reinforced it — made us believe that we weren’t much unless we were measuring up to others’ expectations. Soon we internalized those expectations, owned them, and even adding our own to make the list even more insurmountable.

When you combine the desire to please everyone with a drive for success, it’s a recipe for self-implosion, for having your dreams sabotaged.

To be great at something, we will inevitably please some people immensely and displease others terribly. If our sense of identity is tied to approval, then that will short-circuit our dreams. In seeking to please, we will fail to really focus on expressing our individual talents and gifts according to who we are. In the end, what we achieve won’t be our dream-come-true; it will be somebody else’s, a mirage that fails to make us happy.

Debbie knows this struggle well. Her friends saw her as somewhat of a super woman: a teacher, musician, writer, recovery worker. She was running two side businesses, volunteering for a charity, and managing to stay fit, all at the same time. The balls were in the air, all ascending and descending in perfect harmony — or so it seemed.

Convincing herself that she could, and had to handle it all, she kept the juggling up for quite a while. But then the stress started to seep into her bones. A pervasive weariness permeated her very being.

“I kept going. What was the alternative? I couldn’t stop. I had to work. People needed me. I had to see my family and friends. Medication helped me sleep some of the time. Supplements kept me functioning during the day. Every night I’d climb into bed afraid that I wouldn’t be able to sleep, which just added more stress to my overloaded brain….”

Things got a lot worse before they got better, but Debbie did recovery from burnout. Are you in a whirlwind of stress right now?

You are not alone. Read Debbie’s story: “Too Much of a Good Thing.”

We also provide a confidential mentoring service, free of charge, to help you journey back to wholeness.

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