Is “People-Pleasing” Just Another Form Of Being Controlling?

I know I have control issues and continue to work on them. I think all of us in this world have control issues actually and sometimes I think those control issues mask themselves in strange ways through our behaviors that to us might seem like we’re doing the right thing, but to others, it comes across as controlling. One such way I believe is through “people-pleasing”, a behavior I’ve battled on and off through much of my life, which recently, I came face to face with through an action I took in a men’s group I’m part of.

In one of our meetings a few weeks ago, we were working towards coordinating an upcoming outdoor meeting and barbecue. After much discussion, a date was voted upon and agreed to, after which I realized that a member of the group (and also a good friend of mine) who wasn’t there to vote, might not be able to make that date due to their work schedule. So, I asked the group if they wanted me to contact this person and ask about their schedule. The answer was yes, and so I did. The answer I received from my friend was for a different date than the one the group had already agreed upon. So, I immediately brought that back to the group and made sure I expressed my desire to have this person included in the event. The result? The date got changed to accommodate them, which only led later to far more drama, chaos, and frustration in the group. In the end, my desire to be there for this friend and make sure they got included in that group outing was ultimately a “people-pleasing” action, the consequences of which led to nothing more than the appearance that I had been controlling through it all.

While my intentions were good to include this friend, the better solution would have been to just leave the initial date agreed upon by the group and hope that my friend could have made that date. How many times have I done this? How many times have I tried to “people-please” through what I thought were good intentions, by trying to include “everyone” in various events being scheduled? Countless. And how many times has that ended up backfiring on me, causing more drama and stress and always making me look controlling? Also, countless.

A good friend of mine recently told me that he learned long ago that when scheduling any event, he just settles on a date and sticks to it. Those who can be there, will, and those who can’t be there, won’t, and he doesn’t worry about trying to include “everyone”. On the contrary, I do always worry about including “everyone” in event planning and get concerned about letting someone down if they don’t get included in that planning, which always seems to get me in hot water. That “people-pleasing” action really does come across as controlling, rather than looking like I’m just trying to be a good guy.

So, I think I’m going to start taking a page from my friend’s book and just let events get planned on the day that seem most suitable for those present, rather than me worrying about including every single person not present. Because me trying to arrange everything to include everyone really has consistently come across as controlling, led to more drama and chaos rather than peace and unity, and frankly, has been completely exhausting upon my life.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson