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the danger being a people-pleaser

The Danger of Being a People-Pleaser: 7 Ways to Break Free

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If you are a nice person, it is hard to understand the danger of being a people-pleaser. In fact, accommodating others is so ingrained in many of us that we don’t know how to stop. Changing is not just difficult, it is terrifying.

Perhaps you have become the emotional caretaker of everyone around you, and you have no idea how to even begin to detach.

Saying “no” and setting boundaries seems selfish. Assertiveness feels rude,  harsh, or even unchristian. In fact, you feel guilty for taking up space and having an opinion that is different than those around you.

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the danger of being a people-pleaser

If you grew up in the church, you may have even been told that a good Christian helps everyone. And with a good attitude. 

Unfortunately, that mantra broke down for me. I became very sick. There were too many plates spinning at once. I didn’t know the danger of being a people-pleaser. I was trying to please my husband, kids, family, friends, school, and church. I even tried to please the dog. 

Now I am a recovering people-pleaser. It is still hard to not fall into this trap every once in a while. Here are a few things I do to keep myself honest.

In this post, I am going to talk about the danger of being a people-pleaser, why we do it, and how to stop being a people-pleaser. 

Related: The 6 Best Secrets to Stop Living in Fear

What Does It Mean If You’re People-Pleaser?

So what is a people pleaser and what is the danger of being a people pleaser? The definition of a people pleaser is someone with a strong desire to get approval, even if it means conforming to other people’s opinions and expectations.

Subconsciously, you want to be loved more than stand up for what you think or feel is right. There is an enormous amount of fear about making your own opinions known because you can’t stand rejection or punishment.

I am so guilty of doing this. How about you?

Psychology Today gives two reasons for people-pleasing:

  1. Fear of Rejection is the underlying feeling that “If I don’t do everything I can to make this person happy they might leave or stop caring for me.” Fear of Rejection can come from early relationships in which love was conditional or in which you were rejected/abandoned by an important person in your life. A parent left or was emotionally unavailable or inconsistently available.
  2. Fear of Failure is the underlying feeling that “If I make a mistake, I will disappoint people and/or be punished.”  Fear of failure can arise from early experiences with severe punishment for even small mistakes. People who had highly critical parents may develop a people-pleasing pattern.

According to this article, this kind of thinking can start early in life. As a child, we learned it was safer to go along with our parents’ demands and not make waves.

In fact, there was a price to pay for speaking up. Perhaps you were conditioned to please everyone just to keep the peace in the house and stay safe. Sadly, the danger of being a people-pleaser is that you don’t know who you are now.

RELATED: The Ugly Truth About Shame and Guilt

The Disadvantages of Being a People Pleaser as a Christian

Scripture and Christianity can sometimes become intertwined with people-pleasing. We are taught to obey authority without any question or to always help others even at the expense of our well-being.

Internally, we become conflicted because we know we should say something. Instead, we shrink down in fear of others because we can’t say the word “no” to them. It seems unchristian. 

In addition, there can be a crossover between people-pleasers and abuse.

However, Jesus didn’t always submit to authority. 

He told the truth. Sometimes it was in love, other times it was in utter contempt.

I find it humorous he hacked off the Scribes and Pharisees constantly. He called them blind guides, fools, vipers, and hypocrites. In fact, He even overturned the money changers’ tables in the temple.

Wow. Now that was bold. 

As Christians, we have to be wise about how we train our kids. They need to know when to speak up and when to pipe down. There is a time for both.

Ecclesiastes 3:7 says,”…there is a time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak” (NLT).

RELATED: How to Not Lose Faith: 7 People Who Were One Hot Mess

Take the People-Pleaser Quiz

The danger of being a people pleaser is not knowing if you are one. If you want to know how to stop being a people pleaser then take this quiz to help you decide whether you have a people-pleaser personality. If you say “yes” to most of these things, it might be worth changing your behavior.

1. Are you angry or resentful for being pushed into something you don’t want to do?

2. Would you rather be “nice” than say how you really feel?

3. Do you find needy people are attracted to you?

4. Do you go to extremes to keep the peace?

5. Are you prone to saying “yes” without thinking first?

6. Do you neglect your needs over the needs of others?

7. Do you appear wishy-washy because you are afraid to state your true feelings?

8. Are you angry at yourself when you don’t speak up?

9. Do you feel embarrassed after you do speak up, wishing you never said anything?

10. Are you scared people won’t like you if you say how you really feel?

11. Are you angry when others dominate or punish you for speaking up?

12. Do you keep your feelings hidden for a long time and then explode?

13. Do you find people flattering you just so you will say “yes”?

14. Are you constantly apologizing?

15. Do you feel guilty for saying “no”?

Did you say “yes” to any of the questions in the people pleaser quiz? Then keep reading so you can learn how to manage the danger of being a people-pleaser.

RELATED: 5 Awesome Hacks to Get Rid of Self Pity Once and For All

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 Purchase your ebook or paperback on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

How to Stop Being a People-Pleaser

If you continue in the unhealthy cycle of people-pleasing, you will see less outer conflict, however, your inner conflict will grow significantly over time. The danger of being a people-pleaser is that you may lose who you really are as a person. If you want to know how to stop being a people-pleaser, check out these tips.

1. Acknowledge people-pleasing has harmful side-effects over time

The danger of being a people-pleaser is that if you do not stand up for what is right or let your feelings be known then it will eat you inside. In fact, stuffing things internally can lead to lots of health issues.

If you want to know how to stop being a people pleaser, then start by acknowledging you are hurting yourself. Be willing to change your behavior even if it rocks the boat.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” (Edmund Burke).

2. Realize being a people-pleaser is not sustainable long term

The danger of being a people-pleaser is that it is bad for your mental and physical health to take on everyone else’s responsibilities, emotions, and expectations. Furthermore, it also robs other people from being accountable and responsible for their own behavior. This can really get overwhelming as a parent.

Let your kids make mistakes. That means not running lunch or homework up to school when they forget.

3. Stop hiding. Let the real you come out

The danger of being a people-pleaser is that when you hide your thoughts and feelings from others, no one really knows who you are. You keep people at a safe distance, never letting them into your life.

It is time to stop hiding. Slowly start sharing your feelings, and don’t be ashamed of it. Tell your family members how you feel about things. Encourage open dialogue. Be you.

4. Set boundaries with others

The danger of being a people-pleaser is that you let everyone run over you.

Decide what you can and can’t do. Don’t be pressured into doing things that do not bring you life. Model this for your kids. It is great to help others, but not at the expense of your own health.

RELATED: The Most Effective Way to Heal Broken Family Relationships

5. Take time out

The danger of being a people-pleaser is that you don’t know when to stop.

It is time to take care of yourself. Get alone and recharge. Teach your kids how to recharge too. More importantly, learn how to maintain healthy relationship patterns with those around you so they don’t drain you. Find ways to restore the balance in your life if it is out of whack.

6. Be okay with anger

The danger of being a people-pleaser is that you are afraid of anger.

There are going to be some people who are angry with you. Mentally decide you can live without their approval before it happens. When it does happen, keep telling yourself you are okay.

Your kids are not always going to like you. If they do like you all the time, you are their buddy. 

RELATED: Break Free From Family Problems For Good

7. Desire God’s approval over man’s approval

The danger of being a people-pleaser is that you are more concerned with pleasing man first, not God.

Make sure you are pleasing God first and teach your kids to do the same. Pray about your commitments before you say “yes” to any of them. Surround yourself with godly people who encourage you, not put you down. Find out who you are in Christ, and base your worth on what He says.

RELATED: How to Stop Negative Self-Talk Using Scripture

The Danger of Being a People Pleaser

The danger of being a people-pleaser is that over time you may wrestle with anger, guilt, unforgiveness, and contempt for others or yourself because you let your true self slowly die within the confines of your heart.

Consequently, when you neglect who you are as a person, you start wearing a mask to hide your shame. You may even start wondering if people would love you if they knew the true you.

Do you want to know how to break free from being a people pleaser? Make a conscious effort to be truthful with who you are as a person, and don’t be ashamed about how you feel. You are just as loved and important as anyone else.

Most of all, find out who you are in Christ. This is the most important thing you can do. Please God, not man.

Luke 6:26 says, “There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them” (The Message).

Did you know the danger of being a people-pleaser before you read this? Comment below. 

Do You Have Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!

Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family, but it also gives solid tips to help you with your family problems. Break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.

 

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Creating Family Memories Book

Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids.  It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.

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Join Christian Family Living Facebook Group

Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Family Living. This is a place for Christian women to share their experiences and get helpful tools to navigate the Christian life. We love to laugh, cry, and encourage each other to live out our faith one day at a time.

25 thoughts on “The Danger of Being a People-Pleaser: 7 Ways to Break Free”

  1. Sheri Traxler

    Oh. My. Word. This is so good and really hits the “authority” and “good Christian” angle that I’ve struggled to articulate. I will be bookmarking and rereading this a few times . Thank you.

  2. Julie, this is a really insightful post. I see myself everywhere in it. God has been helping me establish healthy boundaries the last few years and it has been better. I also had to get to where I was ok with other people’s anger. TY for this post! I have been thinking about writing a post about family issues and if I do, I could feature a link to purchase your book on amazon.

  3. What an insightful and thought provoking piece on people pleasing. We may all have some lessons to learn in this area. Thank you for sharing your heart on this issue. Bless you@

    1. Yaa, this is one of my worst faults. I think I wrote it to myself. I keep going back and rereading it to remind me what I need to do and not do! Thanks for your comment.

  4. Great thoughts! I struggle with people-pleasing and have found myself in dark times because I am so overwhelmed. Thank you for sharing ways to set boundaries and being okay with saying no.

    1. Katie, it is hard. Right? I can get overwhelmed fast. I want to do everything and help everyone at my own expense. I am doing better now though. Thanks for your comments.

  5. Thank you for such a great article Julie! Interesting fact you shared is the root of people pleasing is fear. And God doesn’t want us to have any fear.

    1. Tinashe, I still am shocked that the root cause of people pleasing is fear. But is makes sense. You’re right, God doesn’t want to live in fear. Thanks for your comment.

  6. This is such a helpful, soul-searching post. I’m definitely a people-pleasure and it adds stress to my life for sure. I plan to refer back to your post frequently. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I definitely appreciated reading this post, and I am sure many other people will too – it’s definitely a reminder that some of us need to hear. Thank you for sharing!

  8. I was just talking about this topic yesterday with a young friend of mine. Going to send this over to her for her to read. She just doesn’t like upsetting people or wanting people to be mad at her. She gets walked over all the time.

  9. This was fantastic!! I’m a people pleaser to the core so this really spoke to me. It’s a journey to come out of that state of mind and heart, but Jesus is showing me how His opinion is the only one that really matters. Thanks for this!! 🙂

    1. Becky, thank you for your thoughtful comment. It is easy to get being a good Christian with people pleasing. I know God will help you see the difference. He is showing me. I definitely want to please Him first too.

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