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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Living For an Audience of One (Part 1 of 2)

Living For an Audience of One (Part 1 of 2)

Karen Ehman’s journey as a recovering people-pleaser began when she realized she was seeking others’ approval more than God’s. In this conversation, Karen shares practical guidance on healthy boundaries and encourages you to serve God intentionally in the areas he’s called you to serve.
Original Air Date: September 29, 2022

Preview:

Karen Ehman: I set out as my goal to have people like me, to have people think I’m wonder- Miss Wonderful, and I got disappointed all the time. But is, if my goal now is to walk so closely with the Lord, then I’m getting my marching orders from him and I’m getting my approval from him, it really doesn’t matter.

End of Preview

John Fuller: That’s Karen Ehman, and if you frequently find yourself taking on too much at work or at church, I hope you’ll stay with us for an encouraging conversation. This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller. Thanks for joining us.

Jim Daly: John, one of the most challenging passages in the bible is the sermon on the mount. And that’s found in the book of Matthew in chapter five. And Jesus says it’s not enough to look good on the outside like the Pharisees would do, right? They judge people by their-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: exterior.

John: Right.

Jim: Uh, God cares about the heart, and he said it’s about the heart. Uh, Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily for the Lord and not for men.” Sometimes that’s hard to figure out, right, ’cause the Lord wants us to, uh, show hospitality to people, bring people in, be kind to them, et cetera. And that’s all good, but the bottom line is motive matters.

John: Hm.

Jim: Are you working to please people or to please God? And maybe you felt guilty for saying no to a friend, uh, maybe someone you want to keep a relationship with, so you agree to add just another task or two to an already really full schedule. And maybe you’re known as the mom who can juggle everything seamlessly, and one more thing isn’t gonna put you over the top, so they keep asking you.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: It, it can be so easy to fall into those patterns of people pleasing. And our guest today is gonna equip you to handle that in a far healthier way.

John: Yeah, I’m really looking forward to the conversation with Karen Ehman who is a speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries, and a bestselling author. Uh, the foundation of our conversation today is a book that Karen has written called When Making Others Happy Is Making You Miserable: How to Break the Pattern of People Pleasing and Confidently Live Your Life. We’ve got copies of that here at the ministry. Uh, give us a call, 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Karen, welcome back to Focus.

Karen: Thanks so much for having me back.

Jim: So good to have you. Uh, you call yourself a recovering people pleaser. Uh, when did you realize that people pleasing was causing you to be miserable?

Karen: About four years ago in the summer, I had a, a real wakeup call that people pleasing was a prison and I was locked tight inside, and I did not know who had the key-

Jim: Wow.

Karen: or how, how to get out. It was a lot of little yesses and little decisions and ways of behaving for decades that had really landed me in a spot where it was starting to affect me, that the people pleasing ways were staring to affect me physically. I was not being able to sleep well, I had a left eye that wouldn’t stop twitching, I-

Jim: Wow.

Karen: Yeah. I- I was pretty majorly stressed out, and, um, I kind of hit a wall one day.

Jim: How did you connect all those dots to people pleasing, though?

Karen: Well, it started with actually a phone call with my very best friend from college who asked me to do a pretty simple thing. She wanted her son, who was gonna be doing an internship, to stay a couple nights at our house ’cause it was up near our neck of the woods, an hour and a half from where she lived. And sometimes during the week, he would need to work really late, and then open early the next morning, and she wanted to know if he could just crash at our house. And without even thinking about it, ’cause I’m a yes girl, I’m just like, “Oh, yeah. Sure, no problem.” But everything within me was like, “I don’t think I can do this.” My dad had just died, we just moved to a new town, I had a lot of things on my plate, my first child had just gotten married, I was learning the mother-in-law thing. Just all of these things, and when I hung up that phone, I knew that I had said the wrong word.

Jim: Huh.

Karen: But I’m just so used to just meeting everybody’s needs. And I went out to the back of our property, I sat down in a chair, and I just started to cry.

Jim: Oh.

Karen: And I thought, “This is the tipping point. I, I’ve got to stop this. I’ve got to stop it.” So it led to what I call a season of necessary and no-

Jim: Hm.

Karen: for that whole summer. I just decided that I was to do only what was necessary for my family, my home, and my job, my ministry, and just say no to everything else.

Jim: Did people react to that, that, uh, were used to you saying yes? Were they like, “Oh, what’s up with her?”

John: Hm.

Karen: Some people took it well. L-… I had been serving, over-serving ’cause we’re supposed to serve, but I’ve been over-serving, like, in my church and community for decades. And some people were like, “Yeah, I kind of thought maybe you need a little break.” Some people did not take it well. Some people who were used to me putting out their fires and helping them get their stuff done, and I thought they were my friends ’cause they were my friends, but they were my friends ’cause, “Hey, go to Karen. She loves to help people, and she loves to get stuff done.” It’s a lethal combination for-

Jim: Yeah.

Karen: a people pleaser. But the people who were my true friends, my best friend, um, from college, this yes that had sent me over the edge, they understood. She was Jesus to me when I called her and said-

Jim: Yeah.

Karen: “You know what? I need to back out of what I just said I was gonna do for the next three months,” and I cried, and I told her. And she said, “I care more about you and your mental health and your capacity. We’ll figure something out, but I’m gonna be checking on you for the next-

Jim: Oh, that was sweet.

Karen: couple of months.”

Jim: Yeah.

Karen: Yeah, and she totally understood. But so many people, they’re used to you, you know, fixing their problems and bearing their, their burdens, I don’t mean that in a good we’re supposed to bear each other’s burden way, but, you know, they, they take on too much, and they want to shove some onto your plate, and they know you’ll say yes, so they just keep coming to you.

Jim: Yeah. You said over-serving. Some people would say, “Well, it makes you a really good Christian if you’re over-serving.” I mean, what do you, what’s that definition? Are, you know, you closer to Jesus if you over-serve, ’cause he served a lot of people?

Karen: Well, it might look like we’re close to Jesus ’cause we’re over-serving, but we’ve got to kind of peel back the layers and say why are we serving? Why are we signing up to do everything from teaching a bible study to having the youth group over, to making the toddler cookies for the, the, their class, whatever. Why are we doing it? Are we doing it ’cause we have the capacity, and we feel the Lord calling us to do it, or is there a deeper motive? Are we doing it, you know, to win the approval of the pastor and the staff, or to be the, you know, elected homecoming queen of all the church ladies, ’cause boy, you know, she sure serves in everything? What is our motive? Are we-

Jim: Yeah.

Karen: Are we saying yes because we know that other person wants us to say yes or because we really feel God’s called us to serve in this area?

Jim: Well, and that was Galatians 1:10, correct? That’s what caught your attention was what? What does that scripture say?

Karen: It talks about, um, am I now trying to win the approval of God or of humans? Am I trying to please people? And if I’m trying to please people, I’m not a servant of God. And the, that word please in the original Greek is very interesting to me. It means to perform an action in order to win the approval, affection, or attention of another person. So their approval, you want them to like you; their affection, you want them to love you; or their attention, you just want them to notice you. And so if we’re making decisions and saying yes to things just because we want someone to like, love or notice us, not because we’re doing it as unto the Lord. You mentioned Colossians 3:23. You know, work is, that we’re working for the Lord. If we’re not doing it for the Lord, we’re doing it to get a response from someone or to prevent a response, like, we don’t want to tick them off, we’re doing it for the wrong motive.

Jim: Ho- how do you, I mean, sometimes, you’re blind to that. You’re not even aware of what that motive is. Is there a way you can go through a quick checklist, why am I doing this, why am I reacting this way, why am I saying yes to this, is it for that person or for me to look good in front of that person versus I’m doing this for the Lord? How did you start sorting that out?

Karen: It might sound silly, but my first step in kind of untangling all of this was to not answer right away, ’cause it’s just a knee-jerk, you know, blank response, “Yes, sure I’ll do it. Yes,” ’cause we’re so used to saying yes. So all the time now, I say I can’t answer you today. Let me know what, what your request it, what it all entails. I’m gonna think about, and then pray about it. I’ll get back to you within 24 hours. And-

Jim: That’s really good.

Karen: if you need the answer right now, the answer is no.

Jim: Yeah. That’s good. That’s really good. Um, early in ministry, you weren’t happy unless you had 100% positive feedback. I guess five stars would be the way to see it now. You got your, your five stars. W- why was that important? I think I get it but asking the obvious question. Is that an indicator of a people pleaser?

Karen: Yeah.

Jim: You want that good response, that five-star rating?

Karen: Yeah. We want, we want to be known as confident and competent and capable, compassionate, whatever. We have this, this image we’re trying to keep up, and if someone comes along and doesn’t kind of agree with us that we’re all of those things… I remember being at a conference once where they gave you feedback on your talk afterwards. The attendees filled out this little form. And there were 67 comments, 66 of them were positive, but there was-

Jim: (laughs)

Karen: one person. And who do you think I dwelled on? That one person who thought, “No, there wasn’t any really… You know, there weren’t any really new and wonderful ideas in this.” It wasn’t real idea, like, homemaking-based workshop. And she was like, “There, I didn’t learn anything new, and the speaker was kind of boring.” And, uh, then I thought I was a terrible, boring speaker with no good ideas.

Jim: And you are here to entertain me.

Karen: Yeah.

Jim: (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Karen: (laughs) Exactly.

Jim: Right? Right?

Karen: Yeah.

Jim: Sorry, I missed the mark. But you concentrated on the one.

Karen: I did-

Jim: Yeah.

Karen: ’cause I just felt like everybody has to like me. Well guess what. Everybody’s not gonna like me.

Jim: Yeah.

Karen: Everybody’s not gonna like you, sorry to say.

Jim: So how did to a place today where it’s like, “All right. I did my best, and if that’s not good enough for you, so what?”

Karen: Again, it goes down to the motives.

Jim: Hm.

Karen: When we switch our motives, and our motive is not to win the affection and ta- attention and approval of everyone, our motive is to please God and to do what he’s called me to do, and let the people react as they may.

Jim: Uh, let me ask you. Sh-… Uh, you had a friend, uh, who encountered some push back when she was making the decision to do foster care, something we do here at Focus on the Family. Um, what, what happened in that context? I think it was with her parents, but wa- what happened?

Karen: Yeah. We had friends who were considering doing foster care and hoping to do foster care to adopt, and they were super excited about it, felt the Lord had called them. He was opening doors; they knew it was the right call. But when they told it to some of their extended family members, they were met with an icy cold response and a lot of, “Well, have you thought about this, and have you thought about that.” And even this kind of, “Oh, those aren’t gonna be real grandchildren like-

Jim: Right.

Karen: our other biological grandchildren. I mean, I mean, we’ll be kind to them,” or whatever. But, you know, y- you could just tell that they weren’t gonna be completely accepted if they did end up adopting them. And it crushed my friend.

Jim: Hm.

Karen: It crushed her. She was just devastated. And it made an, her and her husband almost rethink the decision because it wasn’t gonna be, you know, met with this warm, happy, welcome-to-the-family kind of response. But a few weeks later when I had lunch with her again, her demeanor had completely changed. She seemed confident. They were moving forward, and she didn’t care any longer what other people thought. And I said, “What changed for you?” And she said, “You know, one day, I just realized I don’t need those people, I don’t need their permission to do God’s will. If God is calling me to do this, I’m gonna do it.”

Jim: Hm.

Karen: Because see-

Jim: That’s really good.

Karen: the, the flip side of people pleasing… One side of people pleasing is we say yes, and we do things in order to please people, but the other side of it is we don’t say yes to God sometimes because we’re afraid of the response of other people. But we don’t need other people’s permission to do God’s will.

Jim: Boy, think of so many men and women over history that if they listen to people over what God was telling them, how much would have been lost.

John: Hm.

Jim: In terms of the impact that God has made through people, right, ’cause you’d shrink back, “Can’t do it, don’t want to do it, won’t adopt, won’t help a child come to Christ ’cause I don’t want to get engaged. It’s messy and my parents or my extended family don’t want me to do that.” Think of that.

Karen: Yeah.

Jim: That’s amazing. You’ve identified, and this is really good, and I want to make sure we get into this today, you’ve identified, uh, several types of people who try to call the shots. First, uh, pushers. I mean, we’re not talking in a drug-

Karen: No.

Jim: context, but you talk about these people as pushers. Who are the pushers around us that-?

Karen: Yeah.

Jim: over-extend us?

Karen: Pushers, they’re those strong, assertive, controlling, manipulative almost people. Pushers push, and they get their way by stomping their foot. And you just, you know, you want to go with the program and not make them mad at you, so you just give in, and you go along, and you do what-

Jim: Yeah.

Karen: they say.

Jim: And in that context, I mean, what are, what’s some ways to defend (laughs) against the pusher?

Karen: Well, it’s hard. These are the ones I have the most trouble with sometimes. Especially I was raised by a pusher. My dad-

Jim: So this would be your Achilles heel-

Karen: Yeah, yeah.

Jim: when it comes to people pleasing.

Karen: Yeah.

John: Yeah.

Jim: The pusher.

Karen: Yeah. My dad was a pusher, and, um, he was in a good way, like, he pushed me in a good way, but then other times, it was like, boy, when he said jump, I said how, how high. And I did it because, you know, I didn’t want to get hit. He was abusive. Now, the end of his life, he came back to the Lord, was a wonderful grandpa to my children. They know nothing else, but back when I was a child-

Jim: It was bad.

Karen: you know, I was afraid I was gonna make him mad. And so I did what he said, and he would push to get his way. And it’s, it’s hard sometimes, because we are afraid of the response when we do push back, you know, but we have to learn to stand up for ourselves with pushers.

Jim: Yeah, that’s really good. And again, that’s just a really super assertive person who demands things their way. And that could be, that could be in the family or outside the family.

Karen: Yeah.

Jim: Coworkers can be like that

Karen: Yes.

John: Hm.

Karen: Yes.

Jim: So, uh, two more types of controlling people are pouters and guilt bombers. As I was talking to Jean about this, I, I think we saw these two as very closely related, the pouter and the guilt bomber, ’cause the pouter can load you up with guilt about how you’re not meeting their need.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: It makes them pout (laughs).

Karen: Right.

Jim: So distinguish the pouter and the-

Karen: Yeah.

Jim: guilt bomber.

Karen: So the pusher stomps their foot to get their way. The pouter doesn’t stop their foot; they drop their smile, and you’ve disappointed. You’ve made them sad. “Oh, you’re not gonna have the extended Christmas at my house,” poor Aunt Tilly saying to you, you know? “I was really looking forward to that,” you know? And so she… You don’t want to make her sad, so you give in. Uh, the guilt bombers, they kind of, sometimes they’re, they’re tugging at your heart strings. They’re making you feel sta- sad. Other times, they make you feel like you owe them something.

Jim: Hm.

Karen: Like, we’re, we’ve got to be even here.

Jim: Hm.

Karen: You know, I’ve, I’ve run carpool so many times, it’s your turn. And they know how to just kind of guilt you and make you feel like, I don’t know, you have more money than them, so you should pay for the meal. You know, it’s not always the sadness t- uh-

Jim: Right.

Karen: tugging of the heart strings. It can be that.

Jim: It’s more like a scorecard.

Karen: Yeah, exactly.

Jim: That’s interesting. Yeah. I, yeah, I think Jean felt this is where she’s vulnerable as a people pleaser is in that guilt bomber. And, uh, you know, I think she feels vulnerable to that ’cause sometimes for her, it makes sense. What they’re saying isn’t actually untrue, um, and therefore, they hook her in.

Karen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And she would make sure that I would say and want to make sure that I would say that she’s well along in her overcoming her, uh, people pleaser, um, situation. She’s grown up since her teenage years and 20-somethings. Uh, you worked with someone for years you called a maximizer. And so what, what’s the maximizer?

Karen: Yeah.

Jim: It sounds positive.

Karen: So a me-first maximizer, actually, that’s what I call them is a me-first maximizer. They are these strategic people that on the surface, they seem like they’re, they’re getting along, and they’re, they’re helpful and they’re friendly. But whenever there’s a situation where somebody’s gonna get the shorter end of the stick, they always make sure that’s not them, (laughs) it’s not them.

Jim: (laughs)

Karen: And, and even if the exact same situation plays out three weeks later and they’re in a different spot, where, okay, now if that was fair back then, now, now they should be getting the shorter end of the stick. No, no, no. Somehow, they can (laughs), they can explain-

Jim: Give me an example of that, because I want people to make sure they understand that.

Karen: Okay. So I’ll give you a really simple example. Back in the day when there was call waiting, I have a person in my life who’s a big me-first maximizer. And one day, they called me, and I was, um, talking to them, chit chatting away, and another call came in. I said, “Hang on a second. I’ve got to see who this is and take this call.” And so I clicked over and took the call for just a second and hopped back on. And that person just let me have it and said, “I cannot believe that you just put me on hold to take another call. That is so rude. How rude of you.” And I said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” And I thought, “I’m never gonna do that again.” Fast forward two weeks later. I was on the phone with my father when this person called in-

Jim: Uh-huh.

Karen: and I ignored the call, right, ’cause it’s rude to switch over and take the call.

Jim: (laughs)

Karen: Well, when I was done with my father, I called that person back, and they let me have it.

Jim: The same person.

Karen: That same person. They said, “Why didn’t you pick up?” And I said, “Well, I was on the phone with my dad.” “Well, you could have picked up and, and at least told me you were…” I said, “Wait a minute. Two weeks ago, you said that that was rude,” you know. So everything changes depending on where they are, and-

Jim: H- how did they respond to that, though?

Karen: Th- she… “Oh, you’re wet. I never said that. You’re all wet. I never said that.”

Jim: (laughs)

Karen: But they did. So they just, wherever they are in the situation, things go down their way. But if the situation changes, they don’t think that first one was, was fair, ’cause no, no, no, wait a minute, now that they’re over here, they’re gonna rework things to always go down their way.

John: Hm.

Jim: Sounds like a politician.

Karen: There you go. (laughs)

John: Well, this is Focus on the Family, and we’re talking about relationships today with Karen Ehman, and we’re so glad you’re listening in or watching. Get a copy of Karen’s book, When Making Others Happy Is Making You Miserable: How to Break the Pattern of People Pleasing and Confidently Live Your Life. Get your copy of that book from us when you’re at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast, or call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Karen, you were, uh, struck by something your pastor, uh, pointed out about people pleasing. It’s good that he was talking about it, actually, ’cause this can be a really unhealthy thing. Yes, even in churches, maybe especially in churches ’cause we’re expected to behave a certain way, and if you say no to something, that could be frowned upon. Um, w- what did he teach you about people pleasing?

Karen: Well, it was in the middle of a sermon I was rather enjoying (laughs) when all of a sudden, he kind of wandered on this little tangent. And he just made this simple statement. He said, “People pleasers often lie.” And I remember feeling like the spotlights that are affixed to the ceiling and normally pointing toward the stage had all drop swiveled and-

Jim: (laughs)

Karen: (laughs) and were, were pointing on me, ’cause everyone knew.

Jim: And now-

Karen: Yeah.

Jim: the greatest liar I’ve ever seen.

Karen: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah.

Karen: And, and I felt like, oh, that’s me. Like, I’m a fabulous fibber. I have a lot of reasons that sometimes I shade the truth a little bit ’cause I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, or I don’t want to anger them or disappoint them, but I had to face the music that day that he was right, that people pleasers often lying is, is part of wa- what we’re doing.

Jim: Again, give us an example of that. I think you had something to do with Girl Scout cookies. How could you lie about Girl Scout cookies? Come on.

Karen: I lied to a Girl Scout, two of them.

Jim: (laughs) Okay. Let me have it.

Karen: Okay. So one day, the sweet little Girl Scouts came to my door and rang my doorbell, and I didn’t want any cookies. I was trying to stay away from sugar. I didn’t need any cookies. And I didn’t want to tell them, “I didn’t want your cookies.”

Jim: (laughs)

Karen: So what I said was kind of a half-truth. I said, “Oh, well I have some nieces. They’re, they’re big into Girl Scouts, and we always buy our cookies from them. But that’s so much, have a great day. Hope you sell lots of cookies.” Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jim: So you did have nieces at that time. (laughs)

Karen: Um, I, I… That one word was wrong.

Jim: Oh (laughs).

Karen: I have nieces, had nieces-

Jim: Yeah.

Karen: they are now in their teens and 20s, that I didn’t… I said that they’re, they’re, they’re big into Girl Scouts. Well, they were big into Girl Scouts, and we did always buy our cookies from them. It was past tense, though. They are not currently in-

Jim: Okay, it was like 10 years ago (laughs).

Karen: not Girl Scouts anymore. Like, you know, five, 10 years ago, I bought them. But I made it sound, like I was very strategic and made it sound like I was still buying cookies from them.

Jim: Yes.

Karen: But I wasn’t. And it was a half-truth.

Jim: Yeah.

Karen: But as we’ve told our kids often, a half-truth is still a whole lie.

Jim: Yeah. No, that’s really good. They should come to our door, ’cause we’ll buy, like, 20 boxes of-

Karen: I’ll send them your way.

Jim: Thin Mints or whatever it is.

John: We’ll post your address online, Jim. (laughs)

Karen: Well, and I thought what-

Jim: (laughs) No, let’s not do that.

Karen: And I thought, “Why didn’t I just tell the… Why didn’t I say, ‘Oh, you guys, I’m really trying to stray away from sugar. You guys are so cute. You remind me of my nieces back in the day, but I just really don’t need any cookies. But here’s a five-dollar donation.’” Why didn’t I do that? Why didn’t I just be honest?

Jim: That’s true.

Karen: But I just got caught in the “Oh, uh, uh…” and then I just told a half truth.

Jim: Hm. You know that it does kinda go back to that pleasing God, pleasing man thing, that prevarication, uh, which means just kinda sliding a half truth, right? So it’s not the full truth, but it’s close enough to the truth that you can accept it. But that’s what you’re saying, just tell them-

Karen: Yeah.

Jim: “I really don’t want your cookies.”

Karen: Right.

Jim: “You’re great. I love you. You’re a wonderful little girl, but I don’t want your cookies.” (laughs) It’s hard to do.

Karen: It is, and it takes a little explaining. Like, we just need to really say out loud what we’re thinking. Like, you all are adorable. I hope you sell a ton of cookies, but I just don’t need cookies today, so I’m sorry. I wish I did, but I don’t.

Jim: What are those go-to statements that we can be more honest and direct with?

Karen: I think we need to just have some things on our mind in an arsenal to kinda start the sentence, and then maybe we can finish it. It’ll get us on the way to telling the truth.

John: Hm.

Karen: Like, “Hey, you know, I really kind of fear telling the truth to you right now ’cause I love you, you’re my friend, I don’t want to disappoint you, but I know I need to be honest, ’cause if I-

Jim: So start with that.

Karen: Yeah. “If I were in-

Jim: That’s good.

Karen: If I were in your shoes, I would want you to tell me the truth, so I’m gonna just have to say no to your request,” or to say things like, “You’re not gonna want me to say yes to that request, because, you know, I’m gonna say yes just to kind of make you happy, but really, I don’t have the bandwidth right now in my life to do what you’re asking me to do. So in the end, you’re gonna be sad that I said yes. So I’m gonna just, o- on the, out of the shoots on the, from the get-go just tell you the answer’s no, even though I don’t want to tell you no, because I know you want me to say yes.” Just be honest.

Jim: Yeah.

Karen: Those things that are running through your mind, just say them out loud. But always preface it with, “I love you, and I care about our relationship, so I’m sorry I’m gonna have to say no. But I’m, I’m going to.” And then just announce it, don’t over-explain it. I’m, I’m the queen of over-explaining. You don’t owe everybody an excuse and all the background. Just say, “You know, I’ve really thought and prayed about it.

Jim: Yeah.

Karen: The answer’s no.”

John: When you give a lot of detail, then there might be a push back.

Karen: Yeah.

John: “Uh, well, we can take care of that, that hurdle.”

Karen: Yes.

John: I mean, there are salespeople out there, and I mean that in kind way in relationships who, “Yeah, but, Karen, I can help you with that, so if we get rid of that hurdle and that hurdle…” So you’re saying just keep it simple.

Karen: Yeah. And when you over-explain, you’re giving them targets to shoot at.

John: Yeah.

Karen: This just happened to me the other day. Someone wanted me to endorse their book. I don’t know this person; I’ve never heard of this person, and I should have just said a polite no. But instead, I said, “Oh, I’m just really busy and I see you’re sending it digitally. I would need a hard copy. And I see you need it in two weeks.

Jim: Yeah.

Karen: I don’t have time.” So what did they do? They said, “We’ll send you a hard copy. We’ll give you extra time,” and they shot it all down. I over-explained. I should have just said, “I’m so sorry. I, my heart wishes I could say yes, but I’m gonna have to say no.”

John: Hm.

Jim: Karen, before we get out today, I want to make sure that people, um, have some appropriate, um, healthy weapons to combat the personality types that you talked about. I think just being able to categorize those is really helpful, uh, back to the pusher, et cetera. So i- if you can identify where that weakness is for you as a, as, you know, as a somewhat people pleaser… The other thing that’s so funny with people pleasers, and I can tend to be one too, we get very offended being called a people pleaser. That really strikes us in a way that, uh, you know, “Wow, no. I’m not that,” but we really can be. Everybody has the potential to be a people pleaser, and not all of it is bad, correct?

Karen: Right, right.

Jim: And in that context, what can you do to build a healthy, appropriate wall, if I could say it that way-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: to protect you and your family even from the pusher mentality?

Karen: I think having some go-to statements that you’re gonna say when they ask you something. That’s number one. We just talked about that. Having some accountability in your life of people that are gonna cheer you on and encourage you to stand up to that person, and then say, “How are you doing?” That has been helpful for me, too, because I know sometimes with a couple different people in my life, I kind of shake in my boots and think, “Oh, I got to do what they ask, ’cause they’re such a pusher.” But I have other friends that are like, “No, you can do it. You can s-… And we’re gonna be checking up on you.” So I think that accountability helps, too. And then I’ve actually found that pushers, they respect you when you push back.

Jim: Yeah, that’s true.

Karen: They do. We’re just so afraid that they’re gonna ro- steam roll over us, and sometimes, they’re like, “Okay. Well thanks for shooting straight with me.”

Jim: Yeah. They like it that way.

Karen: “So the answer’s, no? Okay.” And so don’t be afraid to push back.

Jim: With that person, how honest… I mean, I would think it might be good to sit down and talk to, uh, to them about their pushy attitude. Does that work, or does that not work? (laughs)

Karen: I have one person in my life where, um, that didn’t work (laughs). It kinda backfired. And then I have another person that actually I thought it would, was gonna backfire, but they came back to me later and said, “You know what? You were right. I was kind of offended when you were, in essence, kinda calling me bossy and pushy. But you’re right. You’re a different personality than me. You’re easy to take advantage of. I kinda know that-

John: Hm.

Karen: and that’s why I’ve been coming to you and, and kinda being a little bit bully-ish. And I’m gonna try not to do that anymore.

Jim: Yeah.

Karen: But will you,” she said to me, “but will you also be a little more forthright? Like, just tell me the truth. Quit saying yes to me all the time if you don’t want to do it. That’s not good either. I can handle the no’s.”

Jim: Yeah, that’s good.

Karen: So it’s good to get that dialogue to the surface so that you can have a, a mutual understanding.

Jim: And I would think in that context, that’s a lot of personality type. I mean, pushers are just strong-minded people, and they’re able to get their stuff out right on the table-

Karen: Right.

Jim: and tell you exactly what they think most of the time.

Karen: And w- and another key I found, too, is for me when I’m thinking back about it right now, the pushers I’ve tried to stand up with that I didn’t have a good relationship with or a family relationship with, they’re the ones that didn’t take it very well. But those people I do have a relationship with, they’re in my family, they love me even though we’re very different-

Jim: Right.

Karen: personalities. Or they’re a coworker. We, we do have a good mutual understanding and love for each other. They just do things differently than me. Those, when you bring these things up and you have this dialogue with them, I feel like that relationship string, it tethers you together even though things get a little wobbly as you’re talking about being pushy and being passive, those tend to just to get better with the dialogue. The other ones that I didn’t really have a relationship with, they’re just gonna go push somebody else, ’cause-

Jim: Yeah.

Karen: it’s kinda let, let me out of their life.

Jim: And it seems… No, that’s really good. And the maximizer, same way. You just need healthy boundary there-

Karen: Yeah.

Jim: ’cause, uh, you know, it’s, it’s just overwhelming.

Karen: Can I say one thing that’s helpful with a maximizer?

Jim: Yeah.

Karen: This is my go-to. When the situations change and two weeks ago, they were person A, now they’re person B, and then they want to re- you know, configure the whole thing, I’ll say, “Help me to understand.” That’s my go-to with them. “Help me to understand how two weeks ago, it was rude for me to switch over and take a call, but now it’s not. How can that be both things? Help me to understand that.” And now they’ve got to explain themselves.

Jim: (laughs)

Karen: And that, that’s really helpful.

Jim: Yeah. I’m sorry I’m smiling, ’cause that, that’s actually sounds like fun. (laughs)

Karen: (laughs)

Jim: Is that bad? Does that make me a bad person?

John: (laughs)

Jim: Well, listen, uh, Karen, this has been so helpful. And there’s so much more to cover. I do want to come back and do another day on this.

Karen: Okay.

Jim: So let’s come back tomorrow and cover more of this great content in your book, When Making Others Happy Is Making You Miserable. And, uh, I think at least half the population needs this book (laughs). So if, uh, if you can, make a gift of any amount to the ministry, and we’ll send a copy of Karen’s book as our way of saying thank you for being part of the ministry. It’s a very easy way to do that. If you can, uh, make a monthly gift, that’s great, a one-time gift is good, too. So just, uh, help us, and we’ll help others. If you can’t afford it, we’ll get it to you, and we’ll trust others will cover the expense of that. But the bottom line is we’re here to help you, so get in touch with us.

John: Hm. Contact us today. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back next time as we continue with Karen and once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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