Unfiltered: A Recovering People Pleaser
More times than not I am slow to speak up in group settings, especially if I am unfamiliar with my audience. In group discussions, I can be known to often speak last. Why is that my default I would ask myself? The only logical answer I found was that it gave me a chance to listen to others and compile my thoughts. That was my comfort zone. The obvious benefits to doing this are that I can ensure I am giving a thoughtful curated response to others. But is that really telling the full story? There may be a hidden reward that is not as noble, just beyond the surface. I have recently come to grips with the deep-down genuine desire that I wanted to say the right thing, at the right time, all the time. However, this fantasy has proven to be exhausting and a distraction from the real issue, my discomfort of sharing my genuine initial thoughts due to a fear of rejection.
‘Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)
With unfiltered sharing, there can be an inherent risk or fear of making others feel uncomfortable or saying something disconcerting. As a defense mechanism, like clockwork, my mind works in overdrive like a Brita filter attempting to remove the potential impurities to refine my thoughts. This ensures whatever comes out is more palatable to the listener. You might be thinking “I don’t see the problem with that at all. We are supposed to be somewhat flexible and thoughtful when engaging with others.” While that may be partially true, is it also possible that simultaneously there is a subconscious undermining practice of avoidance?
It dawned on me that my filtering was not just for others, but it was for me too! Over the last few years, I had to repeatedly ask myself “what areas in my life am I avoiding?” Filtering was not a purely selfless act, rather it provided a safety net so that I could avoid discomfort, avoid embarrassment, avoid tough conversations, avoid, avoid and avoid some more. At what cost?
We were not given the spirit of fear and avoidance, but we get to choose to be courageous in the face of discomfort as we rest in God’s promises. ‘Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated…’ (Isiah 54:4)We are called to be authentic as opposed to some polished perfect replica of ourselves. It was in those unfiltered moments and conversations with friends and family, whom I trust, that I now see clearly the reflection of what Jesus was trying to show me in my life at those times. These conversations have revealed to me strengths that I have overlooked in myself, as well as my blind spots in need of work.
If every exchange we have with one another is filtered and watered down for our comfort, there is the danger that we may miss out on receiving the potency, power, or impact of God’s message. What if our people pleasing towards others is causing stagnation in personal growth. Fortunately, we don’t have to stay on that slow-moving train to nowhere.
The irony is that as I write this I am fighting the deep-rooted urges to filter myself. If you are anything like me, you are hyper aware that you are far from perfect. Unfiltered writing or conversations with others can be very humbling and necessary to reveal to us where God has called us to be. Do you want to derail yourself off the stagnant avoidance track? Here are a few ways I personally found growth:
1. Ask a group of trusted friends or loved ones to help reveal some of your hidden strengths and blind spots that you may not be seeing.
2. Pray over the feedback you received and allow others to hold you accountable for areas in your life you may be resistant to.
3. Press into the areas of discomfort daily. I personally continue to experience growth and promise on the other side, and I believe you will too!
Written By: Beresford Pratt, Communications Team