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I hate cleaning, I hate tidying, I hate scrubbing my shower but I love washing my clothes. As a mum, there’s a lot of expectation on us to be clean, neat-freaks. We’re supposed to have our house, finances, children in order and if we’re not, then we’re failing.

This is an unspoken rule, of course. It’s not as if you pop out your baby and the midwife says, “Oh, by the way, now that you’re a mum, your house must be stylish, clean and tidy each and everyday. Even when this little muppet becomes a toddler.” But there is an expectation the basic dusting, vacuuming and cleaning will be done weekly but in my house (gulp) I must admit it often gets left until it’s so gross that I can’t stand it anymore and out come the rubber gloves and tub of Gumption!

Let me propose that cleanliness is not the bee’s knees; that it is not the most important thing in life. I have wooden floors and I cannot remember the last time I mopped them but they don’t stink and they still look relatively clean when I bother to vacuum them. And some would say that cleaning too much is actually bad for our health; that anti-bacterial cleaners actually do away with the good bacteria as well as the bad, leaving us at the mercy of any bug that would walk through our doors.

In fact, would it be better for our hair and skin if we didn’t wash it as much? The natural oils would come pouring through and do their God-given job on their own, without any help from those nasty chemicals in our shampoo and skin cleansers. Have you ever gone for days without a shower? Sure, you stink but a quick swim will wash away any truly nasty odours, would it not?

I’m not saying that we should all embrace the hippy lifestyle and grow dreadlocks and eat mung beans but I just think it’s crazy how obsessed we are about how we present ourselves to others. Why do we care so much? I think that a clean toilet is a MUST and that showers are fantastic but the rest of the stuff, the surface stuff, who do we do that for? And what are we missing out on when we’re on our hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor?

To me, relationships are so important. So, if someone needs me or if my kids want to talk to me, I’d rather roll around on my dusty floor and listen to who pushed who at school, than be vacuuming while they stare at me with sad little faces. I think we should all be free to spend as much time with people and less time scurrying around making ourselves and our houses look perfect to impress those very people. Because, in the end, everyone loves to feel important, they love to be listened to, they love it when people show that they care and how can we do it when we are elbow-deep in Gumption?

And, that’s my excuse for having a messy, dusty house and I’m going to stick to it! Join me, why don’t you!

 

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Confession time: I am a people pleaser. I would much rather people like me than not. I get paranoid when someone gives me a funny look or says something in an unpleasant way even if they’re just being generally grumpy. I don’t like to offend anyone or hurt their feelings simply because I know what it is like to be hurt, left out and offended myself.
It’s the old “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Jesus – Matthew 7:12). This is a great way to live if it is done with the right motives. If it is driven by fear, it can become an unhealthy habit. If someone has offended me and I have just smiled and nodded, I take my angst out on my family. It builds up and up inside me and when I’m feeling most comfortable out it comes. The eyes turn red, my hair stands on end (think Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters) and my fam runs for the hills.
The desire to please people comes from the fact that I was always getting into trouble when I was a kid. I had and have a passion for truth and justice which didn’t always work out so well for mini me. All that mattered was truth and if people couldn’t handle it the way I presented it then tough titties, it was the truth!
Now that I’m in my wiser (eeeek hopefully) years, I have almost gone too far the wrong way because I want to shake that reputation. Sometimes I find it impossible to tell the truth, when it needs to be told, because I fear the response. So I smile… and I nod… and I feel like a drippy old weak, sodden blanket with no backbone. There must be a better way.
There is! It is called speaking the truth in love. In LOVE! And I figure that sometimes people have to hear difficult things even when it may cause them pain. Another part of this is allowing yourself to disagree with someone else without condemning them and yourself. We live in this permissive, tolerant world, which is all well intentioned but where’s the bottom line? It’s getting a little blurred which is a bit of a worry when you think about it. Does it mean everything is ok?
People also seem afraid of the term ‘truth’ in a universal sense. We have your truth and my truth but we’re a little hesitant to claim there is a definite truth except for, as Benjamin Franklin said, death and taxes. There’s no responsibility in individualistic truth. Once again if you think it’s ok then it’s ok. With little accountability people will be free to treat each other terribly, because they can justify it as their truth. It makes for a very self-centred world… and that’s the truth.

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