Let me preface this article by quoting Proverbs, “where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” When we seek out other opinions, we should be careful how we approach it. We seek council for perspective, not approval. Naturally, I just want to make people happy. I want them to like me and to be proud of me. The “I don’t give” mindset does not come naturally to me, and not mad about that. However, being a chronic people-pleaser has it’s own downfalls. Here’s how I try to combat those downfalls…
“I can’t write about that!”
“I can’t say that!”
“My character can’t do that!”
“Oh, but what will they THINK?”
Am I the only one who has these kinds of conversations in my head? Daily, it’s a war between what my heart wants to say and how receptive people will be to it. By default, I am driven by fear. Fear of being unloved, unheard, unwanted, and also eaten by creatures who live just beyond the treeline at night.
Even when I have an amazing idea, my first thought always goes to, “but what will the others think of this? Is this going to affect how well I am loved?”
There are 3 questions that I ask myself when these thoughts start popping up.
Question#1: Who wears the pants?
No, seriously. Who makes your decisions for you? At the end of it all, whether you fall or fly, who will you answer to? The ones who didn’t like your idea? No, you will stand alone before the King. No one will hold your hand when you have to face the music for the decisions you have made. So… why are you letting their approval influence you? Why do they get a say? If there is a story burning in your heart, isn’t it your responsibility to write it? I’m a firm believer that not every story is meant to be published, but that doesn’t mean that every story isn’t meant to be written. We grow personally through the stories we write. We find out what we believe and where we stand. Those are high stakes to hinge on someone else’s approval.
Question #2: So what?
So what if someone close to you hates what you have to say? So what if no one sees the beauty in the world like you? Does that make your words matter less? No! I will never understand my tendency to tiptoe around other people as if what they think has any substantial weight. Because here is the truth. If just one person reads what you write and feels something, even for a moment, then you are successful. No, it’s not when you’re swimming in millions like J.K. Rowling, it’s not when your book gets turned into a movie, and it’s not when you make the New York Times Bestseller list. It’s when one person, curled up in bed on a Monday night, reads the words that YOU wrote, and thinks “hey, maybe I’m not as alone as I thought.” That is when you know you’ve done something real. This world has forgotten how beautiful it is to feel things deeply. God gave us the ability to be influencers, creators, dreamers, builders, and doers. He gave us the capacity to use that ability to get inside someone’s head and start moving things around. We wield such a strong power that we have to be mindful of how we use it. That’s where our relationship with God and the Spirit comes into play.
But I digress. Bottom line, don’t let anyone influence your message but God. No one else has the authority.
Question #3: What are you going to do about it?
There is a course of action to accompany every problem you face. Even when you don’t take action, there are still repercussions for whatever you do or do not do. When I face criticism at the hands of either myself or someone else, part of me is hurt. Then, the stronger part of me is grateful. Why? Because no one grows without adversity. No one knows what grit they have until they have to power through some obstacles. I’m not used to obstacles, and that’s why I’m shocked when they come along. Not because I do everything so amazingly that I am above reproach, but because I’ve never done anything worth someone objecting to it. So, when someone doesn’t like what I do, then I know I’m doing something worthwhile and I let it grow me. I let it thicken my skin… after I wallow in a shallow pool of self pity and loathing (working on that). Regardless of where you’ve been or where you’re going, there’s a way to grow. There’s a way to get stronger, smarter, and better.
In conclusion, don’t change your message to cater to some muggle who doesn’t care about your magic. When you cross over into eternity, you are not going to be holding their hand and championing their approval. You will go alone, holding nothing but the bleeding heart you kept on your sleeve. We spend so much time worrying about approval when we are running out of time! You don’t get rollover minutes. You don’t get to cash in the effort you saved in your life. This is all you get. Life is happening now, right before your eyes. Seconds are ticking by, and each one takes another opportunity with it.
You’re chasing approval. Stop it! The time is now. The people are the ones in front of you. This is the day.
Carpe the dang diem already!