“My name is Jenny. I’m a recovering first-born people-pleasing rule follower.”
In November, I’ll be forty. Yup. Forty years old, and I’m still growing up! It’s hard.
Here are the challenges:
1. First born: I know, not all first borns are like me, but a lot of us are used to coordinating things, being in control, helping other people fix things, etc. I never really thought of myself as a control freak, but over the last couple years I’ve come to see that letting go of control is hard for me.
2. People-pleasing: Sometimes I take my people pleasing too far and 1) try to fix things when people aren’t looking for that and 2) try to make everybody happy. Obviously that is not possible. It’s just a fact of life.
3. Rule follwer: I’ve come to realize that as a natural rule follower, I tend to follow the rules and not think about the why of the rules. Not in a rebellious way, but to think for myself, make decisions for myself, and trust that my decision is a good one even if others disagree (see #2). I’ve thought about this a little here and there, but recently because of my job with Home Educating Family, I’ve come to see that I’m used to doing what I’m told and going with the flow (see #2 again) instead of thinking about issues. The magazine article “They Smile, but Do They Laugh?” got in my face about doing my own thinking. You see, the reason for the article is to get people to think and discern instead of just going along with something because everyone else is.
The hard thing is that now I’m realizing this, I see two things: 1) Thinking on my own is hard work and 2) fibromyalgia and stress have made it harder for me to think.
So, here I am approaching forty and realizing I drive my husband crazy, sometimes make my sister (who’s pretty good at not saying anything) laugh because I’m so ridiculous, and probably frustrate quite a few other people. Add in my left-brainedness, and, well, I’ve got a lot of work to do at letting go!
There is also a lot of guilt that comes with each of these personality traits. I feel guilty if I didn’t do something just right–even really small things that don’t matter. I feel guilty if I know someone isn’t going to like a decision I made. I feel guilty if my kids didn’t get enough vegetables one day. I feel guilty if I asked too much of someone. I feel guilty, guilty, guilty.
That’s not healthy.
What can I do? Fix my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith. Follow God’s Word. Trust the Holy Spirit to guide me in what is right.
And that’s hard. Sure, I can type it, but to live it and believe it is hard for a people-pleaser!
I have to continue to practice letting go. (Sarah, I’m not going to straighten those pictures at your house anymore.)
Are there any other recovering first-born people-pleasing rule followers out there? Give me a holler in the comments below? Are you NOT that way? Leave your favorite tip about letting go!