Sometimes living at peace with other people, means living at peace with disappointing them.
It’s incredibly important to balance your responsibility to other people with a deep sense of responsibility to your God-given self. It’s not only good for you. It’s good for other people.
Living at peace with yourself is a process of figuring out that balance. Here's what we cover in today's podcast episode:
1. How to make peace with yourself
2. Making friends with yourself
3. Living at peace with others
4. Facing your fear of disappointing other people
5. How Jesus disappointed people
6. How to disappoint people with integrity
While Dr. Cook is a counselor, the content of this podcast and any of the products provided by Dr. Cook are not specific counseling advice nor are they a substitute for individual counseling. The content and products provided on this podcast are for informational purposes only.
Episode Twenty: The Best of You Podcast 15th September 2022
Introduction to The Best of You With Dr. Alison Cook
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Hey, everyone, I'm Dr. Alison, and I'm so glad you're here to discover what brings out the best of you. This podcast is all about breaking free from painful patterns, mending the past, and discovering our true selves in God. I can't wait to get started. As we learn together how to become the best version of who we are with God's help.
Hey, everyone, welcome back to The Best of You podcast. This is our 20th episode, and it's really exciting because this is the week that The Best of You, my book, just came into the world. Many of you listening, probably, already have it in your hands. It came out on Tuesday.
It's been so amazing. So overwhelming for me to hear from so many of you, what the book is meaning to you, as you think about a new way to set boundaries. As you think about some of these misconstrued church messages. As you think about what it means to inhabit the self, the you, that God made both to heal and to become more of your true self in God.
So thank you so much for all of your notes. All the ways you've been sharing about the book. It means so much to me to see this work that I've labored over for so many years, really a lifetime. But the last couple of years, really, in crafting the book to have it into your hands.
The Best of You is available now anywhere books are sold, so get a copy. I'd be so grateful if it's meant something to you. If you'd go ahead and leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads, let me know what stood out to you. What was helpful to you? That's one way that I get to hear back from you, and it also just helps get the word out about the book to other people. Thank you so much for your support.
So for today's episode because it's book launch week and because the book just came out into the world. We're going to do one more excerpt. I'm going to read the excerpt from the book.
It's toward the end of the book called How to Make Peace with Yourself. And I like to subtitle it; How to Make Peace with Disappointing Other People because the two go hand-in-hand.
And this is one of those sections of this book that has really stayed with me. I mean, many of the sections have stayed with me and I find myself having to relive the words that I write, frequently, in my own soul. Learning to listen to myself, learning to take time to focus on myself. Not to stay self-focused, but so that I can show up more authentically and more effectively with other people, and I've continued to come back to this section.
So I want to share it with you today. I'll give a little commentary on it as I go. I'm not going to read it verbatim. But this is also a section, the piece of this I wrote, again, two years ago after I had the stroke which I read to you last week.
I wrote a blog post about two months after that, after I'd taken some time off, and it was all about learning to disappoint other people. Because I'd had to pull back so much in my life that I felt like I was just disappointing everybody around me and, yet, it was what I needed to do for my own health.
And, so, this section grew out of that period of time, and it's poignant and it means a lot to me this time of year. I hate disappointing other people, as I'm sure most of you hate disappointing other people. And that's why we stay so busy working overtime to please other people, to produce for other people, stay focused on other people, we don't want to disappoint others.
But the problem is sometimes we do have to disappoint other people. And it's a part of this larger process of making peace with ourselves. So I'm going to read to you from a couple of different excerpts along this category of making peace with yourselves. Which means getting over your fear of disappointing other people.[00:05:37] < Music >
An interesting paradox occurs as The Best of You emerges from deep inside. You no longer bend yourself into contortions to appear as if you have it all together. You begin to make peace with yourself. You begin to show up as you really are.
Now, in order to make peace with yourself, you have to stay honest with yourself and with God. It means honoring some of your limitations. It means honoring some of your preferences and needs. Making peace with yourself isn't resignation.
It isn't just saying, "Oh, I'll just make peace with all of my flaws and this is just the way I am." That's not what it is. It's a very active process of understanding where you are right now. Some of your limitations. Some of the wounds that you still need to tend. Some of the things that are still, really, a challenge for you. It's accepting that and holding that intention with where you want to be.
It's holding two things at once. It's, "This is where I am right now. I get it. I see it, God, I'm being honest with myself.
I see these parts of me that still struggle with this old thing and I'm at peace in the sense that I know it. God knows it. I'm not hiding from myself. I'm not deceiving myself. I'm not deceiving other people." That's where we experience peace.
Peace isn't perfection. Peace isn't denial, deceiving ourselves, peace is saying, "This is where I am right now, God. I see it and you see it, and it's not where I always want to be. I want to continue to take brave steps each day to heal, to grow, to become more, and more, and more of the beautiful soul that you made and this is where I am today."
There's a paradox when it comes to making peace with yourself. You hold that tension inside of you. The tension between where you are right now and where you hope to be with curiosity and with compassion.
As you begin this process you begin to pause, maybe, for just a second before you please someone else. Before you overextend your limits. Before you try too hard to get other people's attention. Before you shut down the parts of you that are hurting, maybe, you can just pause, for even one second, two seconds, three seconds, and say, "Oh, I see what's happening here. There you are, I know you're there."
It's that awareness. It's not perfection, it's that awareness of, "Oh, yes, there I was, I tried a little too hard there to make them like me."
Or "I worked over my capacity in that moment, but I came back to home center. I came back to home base. I came back to myself and before God and before myself, I named that with curiosity, with compassion, without shame. It's okay. I can be at peace with myself."
It's not saying, "I did it perfectly."
It's saying, "I see what I did, I see who I am, I see where I am right now, and it's okay. It's okay."
Somehow, with God's grace, as God comes in and meets us right where we are, we're okay. We're at peace and it's an amazing feeling. It's an amazing experience. If you're someone who struggles with self-doubt, you learn to make peace with the parts of you that show up, every once in a while, causing you to question yourself. You learn to meet those parts of you with curiosity and compassion.
It's not that, that necessarily goes away entirely. It's that when those insecurities show up, instead of shaming yourself, instead of berating yourself, instead of beating yourself up. You say, "Oh, yes, there you are old familiar self-doubt. I see you there, it's okay, you can have a seat at this table. I'm just not going to let you lead."
Or if you struggle with anxiety or worry. And maybe you've had a break from feeling worry, and, all of a sudden, it comes back and it descends upon you and that can be so frustrating. But, again, what if you could learn to go, "Oh, I see you there, anxiety, I see you there. Here you are again, I know you all too well. You can be there, it's okay, but I'm not going let you take me over."
And we invite God into that, "And, God, You see that anxious part of me? You see her starting to rear up and start to whirl around, again, in my mind. God, just come with that part of me, be with her in those fears. She doesn't have to go away, but I'm not going to let her drive. I'm not going to let her lead."
So making peace with yourself is connecting to all these different emotions. All these different, even wounds that we have from the past that will surface from time to time, and letting them have it seat at the table of our soul, but not letting them take us over. We're leading ourselves, not letting all these different parts of us have their way with us.
You'll make peace with yourself as you stop justifying old patterns of behavior. Instead of trying to justify you simply bear witness. "Oh, I see that, there's that people-pleasing again. There's that perfectionism. I don't have to make excuses for it. I don't have to justify it. I just notice it. God sees it.
There's honesty in my soul. I feel it and I'm also learning a different way. I'm learning to turn toward healing and the possibility of growth and change. I'm learning to honor both the presence of the best of who I am and the fact that I still have some of those blind spots. But they're becoming less blind spots, sometimes, now, I can see them there before they get the best of me."
As you make peace with yourself, you start to notice the presence of a wonderful new friend. Suddenly you become someone who's enjoyable to spend time with. It's amazing to have friends that we love being with who bring out the best of us. And a lot of this book is about learning to cultivate those kinds of relationships.
But you also learn to make friends with yourself and you begin to discover a sense of safety within. And what I mean by that is you're no longer fearful of those parts of yourself that have gotten the best of you before. You know them. You know yourself. You're aware of that tendency to lash out, to be resentful, to be petty, to envy, to play small, to try to earn the affections of other people through people-pleasing.
These are not new things for you, you've made peace with yourself. Therefore, when you're by yourself, when you're in the company of your own soul, you found a new friend. You're no longer beating yourself up, shaming yourself, you're learning to enjoy the pleasure of your own company.
As you've grown stronger, in this way, you now know that living at peace with others includes being faithful to yourself. You can't find peace in your relationships with other people until you've learned to show up as a friend to yourself.
So what do I mean by that? As you become a friend to yourself, suddenly, you no longer want to betray yourself. You enjoy yourself. You know yourself. You understand yourself. You know what you need. You know what you long for. You know what brings out the best of you, and all of a sudden, this has implications for your relationships with other people.
Living at peace with others means paying attention to what you need to stay healthy in your relationships. It might mean, bravely, negotiating change with someone you love. I'll walk you through that in chapter nine of The Best of You.
It might mean staying distant from someone who is not able to respect your boundaries and what you need. So this is where we get to the kicker of this episode; sometimes living at peace with other people means living at peace with disappointing them.
Most of us have been taught never to disappoint other people. We are conditioned to hitch our self-worth to how well we make other people feel. But what if you measured your worth by living from integrity? It's incredibly important to balance your responsibility to other people with a deep sense of responsibility to your God-given self. It's not only good for you, it's also good for other people.
Now, I'm going to get into some of the ways that I believe Jesus showed us an example of disappointing other people. The truth is Jesus disappointed people and we see this in the gospels. He didn't always act in the way His followers wanted, yet He was the prince of peace.
Jesus didn't disappoint people because He was selfish, He disappointed people because he lived with integrity. He always acted out of a commitment to a higher good. He modeled how to, number one, focus on what God wanted versus on pleasing others. Number two, staying true to His calling versus staying focused on temporary distractions. And, number three, He saw the big picture instead of settling for instant gratification, and there's a lesson here for all of us.
As you make peace with yourself, in partnership with God, you might disappoint someone. You can act with integrity. There's a difference between disappointing other people because you're misbehaving, you're lashing out, you are in the wrong. When we disappoint people because we've done something wrong, we need to apologize and make amends.
What I'm talking about here is when we begin to change, when we begin to grow, when we begin to heal and we change our patterns of behaviors, other people might not like it. We train people what to expect from us.
So if we've trained people to expect us always to be at their beck and call, and suddenly we are starting to change. We are starting to prioritize our health, our own needs, even some of our own desires, other people might not like that. It doesn't mean we've done something wrong. It means we're starting to live from a deeper place of integrity inside.
As you make peace with yourself, as you make friends with yourself, as you learn to be with yourself, in this new way, you might have to disappoint other people. And that might be really hard for you at first and it might be hard for them. But you can learn to do that with integrity. And the way to know that you're in your integrity is to look to the model of Jesus.
You want to look for a clear sense of the good things you are moving toward, even as you have to move away or say "No" to other people.
It's all about the good you're moving toward. And when you're focused on that, and when you see that, and when you're clear about that, you may still disappoint other people but you are in a position of integrity. You have conviction inside, and this is a really important distinction.
Here are some examples of what I mean; let's say you or a loved one are going through a crisis and need space for your own healing. You need to say, "Yes" to prioritizing that relationship, that season with your loved one, with your family, with a friend. Which means you might have to set limits with other people and that's acting out of integrity. It doesn't mean everybody will like it, but you know what you need.
Let's say you've taken on new commitments at work, at home, or at church, this means you may have to scale back on old commitments. You cannot please everyone in order to live at peace with yourself and to stay true to what you know you need to be healthy. You may have to disappoint some other people.
This is true if you're going through major life transitions such as a move, a marriage, a divorce, empty nest, or having children. You know you have to let some things go and this might, indeed, cause other people to feel bad, they might miss you. That is not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to stay true to what keeps your soul healthy so that you can show up in those relationships as you need to show up.
Here's the thing, you live at peace with yourself and with others when you learn how to act with integrity. And believe it or not, you can, actually, disappoint other people with integrity. Here are some ways to do that. Number one, make a clean break. It's not kind to try to drag people along when you don't, actually, have the capacity to give those relationships.
If you have to let someone down be clear about it, don't let it drag out. For example, if you have to end a commitment or a relationship, be upfront about it. They might be hurt or angry but they'll also be free to move on apart from you. And it's so funny because sometimes we hold on because we don't want to hurt anybody, but in the end, it can almost hurt them more because we don't set them free to move on, to get what they, actually, need somewhere else.
Number two, don't apologize if you haven't done anything wrong. This is a hard one for a lot of us. I've had to work on this a lot in my own life. But practice noticing, "Wait, am I doing something wrong here, or am I simply making a decision that this person isn't going to like?" And if you're not doing something wrong, practice saying something like, "I regret that I cannot continue in this group."
Or as hard as it is, I have arrived at this conclusion."
You can be kind in the way that you communicate your regret without apologizing.
Number three, be careful about lying or making up excuses. Those little white lies are so tempting when we have to disappoint other people. But they're not good for our soul, especially, if you're someone who's recovering from people-pleasing or codependency.
We often want to soften the blow by making up excuses that may seem more palatable to the other person. But it's not healthy for you and it's not helpful for other people.
Practice stating the facts as honestly and simply as possible, in these cases, often, less is more. For example, you might say, "I need some time to myself right now, I'll be off the grid for a while."
"I have to pull back from this commitment for personal reasons. Here's what I can do to support you as you find someone else."
"I appreciate you and I'm grateful for this invitation. I need to focus on my own self, or my own family, or my own health." Whatever is true in that moment, you can be as general as possible.
"I need to focus on my family right now," for example.
"If you don't hear from me, please know, I am doing what is best for me right now."
Maybe you're at work, "I can't take on that project. In order to do my best at everything you've already given me, I have to say no to this one."
Number four, don't make it about you. When you disappoint someone, it's okay for them to express their disappointment. You can respond with empathy and kindness. You can say something like," I know this is hard. I understand that it's an inconvenience." You can honor their experience without apologizing, getting defensive, or backtracking."
It's also not their job to make you feel good about this decision that you're making. It's wonderful when you have friends or colleagues who get it and who say, "We get it, do what you need to do. We respect your decision." That's amazing, it doesn't always happen that way. But you're not looking for validation at this point.
As you're making peace with yourself, as you're making decisions that reflect the best of what you need to bring into your life, your goal is to communicate honestly and effectively. It's not, necessarily, to get the other person to feel great about the decision that you've made, this comes from a place of confidence.
Lastly, don't take abuse. It's not the other person's job to take care of your feelings. However, it's never okay for the disappointed person to become abusive or toxic toward you. Letting someone down might bring up emotion, and that's okay, but if the emotions turn toxic, simply excuse yourself.
If the relationship has a chance, if it's worthwhile, you'll work through it later on. But if not, it's better to find out now that this is someone who cannot respect your good, wise decision. As you live at peace with yourself, and you face your fear of disappointing other people, you gain humility.
You gain this sense of your own position in the universe.
You're no longer playing God, you're living within your God-given limitations, and that's beautiful. That's a beautiful way to live and you also, paradoxically, gain confidence. You learn that you cannot please everyone around you, and it's not a healthy goal to set for yourself. Instead of pleasing others, you learn the power of living from your true self and saying yes to the life God wants for you.
One of the verses I love in this category is from 1 Samuel 15:22, where he says, "To obey is better than to sacrifice."
So many of us go right to sacrifice, "We'll sacrifice ourselves for other people." But in Samuel, he's saying, "It's better to obey. It's better to operate out of conviction. It's better to operate out of integrity before God, and that might mean disappointing other people."
As you learn to honor both yourself and other people, you start to show up in the same way Jesus has shown up for you, with honesty, love, and intentionality. You are anchored in your own integrity, which equips you to show up far more effectively with other people, even when you disappoint them.
You're not supposed to meet every need around you. Every need is not your call to serve, and the truth is other people won't meet all your needs either. As you work toward living at peace with yourself and with others, here's a prayer that I've found helpful, and I adapted this from the Serenity Prayer that is often used in addiction recovery programs.
"God give me the courage to stop pleasing others. The confidence to show up as my true self and the wisdom to know how to live at peace with others without betraying myself."[00:27:24] Thank you for joining me for this episode of The Best of You. Be sure to check out the show notes for any resources and links mentioned in the show.
You can find those on my website at dralisoncook.com. That's Alison with one L- cook.com. Before you forget, I hope you'll follow the show now so that you don't miss an episode. And I'd love it if you'd go ahead and leave a review, it helps so much to get the word out.
I look forward to seeing you back here next Thursday. And remember, as you become the best of who you are, you honor God, you heal others, and you stay true to your God-given self.