We all know those people who meet every comment, every idea with some kind of "off" response. They are not as clearly and completely negative as the bitter, angry person who just seems to hate everything in life on principle, but these more subtle "Eeyores" are joy suckers none-the-less.
"I'm going to work in the garden this afternoon" - is met with - "It will probably rain."
"I signed up for a new fitness class" - is met with - "You're too fat to wear stretchy pants."
"I'm really excited about this new story I'm working on" - is met with - "Everyone these days spends too much time on their computers."
It's not that the person thinks you shouldn't weed the garden, or exercise, or work on a fun project - no, she may even be in favor of your doing those very things. But for some reason, the words that come out of her mouth tend to be gray, a downer, energy draining.
I am a people pleaser. My husband calls it being an "approval suck" - a crass term, but it adequately communicates the yuckiness of the condition. I want the people around me to be happy, to like me, to approve of my choices and decisions.
Now, I realize that every single person approving of everything I do is an impossibility. I know that. But still, when someone comes right out with a negative comment or response to something I say or do, I get this little saggy spot in my heart.
And when I'm around someone like the joy sucker mentioned above for a substantial amount of time - someone who seems by nature to always have an "off" comeback - that little saggy spot in my heart turns into a great big heavy weight.
But I think that's about to change.
I had an epiphany of sorts this morning.
I was thinking about my personal Eeyore - we'll call her Darla - and I was feeling sorry for myself and wondering why Darla always has to be so negative and critical, why she has to always be letting the air out of my balloon, subtly opposing every idea, sucking the joy out of whatever I am doing. Blegh.
Then it occurred to me - maybe God gave me Darla as a special gift, especially to help me deal with this preoccupation with people pleasing. Maybe Darla is my opportunity to brook small opposition and disappointment and ho-hum-ness, so that I can grow stronger and better able to meet greater opposition and bigger obstacles in the future.
Maybe Darla is like one of those Drill Instructors that motivates you to go further and do more by pointing out that whatever you're doing right now probably won't work and is never going to be enough.
Maybe my challenge is this...
When Darla says, "You're too fat for stretchy pants" - instead of slipping into a melancholy attitude of "Yeah, Darla's right. This exercise class was a crazy idea," maybe my challenge is to come back with "I may be heavy, but I'm already a size smaller than when I started this class. I'm so motivated now that I bought another pair of stretchy pants!"
So, with this new epiphany - the thought that Darla is not a thorn in my flesh but an aid to growth - I am going to try a new attitude discipline. Whenever Darla comes out with one of her soggy, gray comments, I'm going to stop and formulate a positive response. Take time to find a little sunshine to soothe that saggy place in my heart. At first, this will probably be mostly a mental exercise - but I wouldn't be surprised if, with time and practice, those responses begin to find a way to my lips and out to Darla's ears.
Watch out, Darla - I think I see a bit of blue sky.
Here comes the sun!
3 months ago