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If you are a nice person, and follow the Bible, it is hard to understand the danger of being a people pleaser. In fact, saying “no” and setting boundaries may seem selfish. Assertiveness may even feel rude,  harsh, or unchristian to you.

Furthermore, if you have been a people pleaser for a while, you may be the emotional caretaker of everyone around you and not even know it.

Perhaps the thought of emotionally detaching from your loved ones invokes a twinge of guilt. Or even panic. “How will they survive?” How will I survive?

In this post, I will talk about the danger of being a people pleaser. As harmless as it seems, there are real consequences for not setting healthy boundaries with family and friends.

In fact, not setting boundaries can turn into projecting a false self, enabling, or even creating a real health crisis.

What Is the Definition of a People Pleaser?

So what is 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. You struggle to set boundaries and say “no” because you fear rejection and withdrawal of love.

Psychologically, you may have been wired long ago to please everyone just to keep the peace in your house as a child and stay safe. Perhaps you equated approval and validation with your own survival.

That may have worked well as a child, but now that you are an adult, the danger of being a people pleaser is that you don’t know who you are as a person.

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The Danger of Being a People Pleaser and the Bible

People pleasing and the Bible can sometimes get all mixed up. As Christians, we are taught to obey authority without any question or to always help others even at the expense of our own well-being.

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

However, Jesus didn’t always submit to authority. In fact, he called the Pharisees blind guides, vipers, fools, and white-washed tombs.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying you need to call people names, but what I am saying is that Jesus set boundaries.

As Christians, we need to learn how to express our feelings and set boundaries too. At the same time, we also need to hear the Holy Spirit prompting us to be inconvenienced. This delicate balance takes practice.

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: Lose Faith in God? 7 Reasons to Trust Him in Your Hot Mess

Signs of a People Pleaser

The danger of being a people pleaser is not knowing if you are one. If you want to know the signs of a people pleaser, 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?

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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 stop being a people pleaser (but still be nice).

RELATED: How to Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself: 5 Ways to Move On

What Causes People Pleasing?

The root of being a people pleaser often stems from a combination of psychological, social, and emotional factors. While individual experiences can vary, here are some common underlying factors that contribute to people pleasing behavior:

1. Low Self-Esteem:

People with low self-esteem may seek validation and approval from others as a way to boost their self-worth. Instead of believing who you are in Christ, you take your cues from others.

2. Fear of Rejection:

The fear of being rejected or abandoned can drive people to prioritize the needs and desires of others over their own.

3. Desire for Approval:

People pleasers often have a strong desire for approval and validation from others. They may derive their sense of self-worth from the positive feedback and attention they receive when they meet others’ expectations.

4. Avoiding Conflict:

People pleasers often avoid confrontation and conflict, as they fear that asserting their own needs and boundaries might lead to disagreement or tension. As a child, this may have been a tactic for survival.

5. Lack of Boundaries:

Difficulty in setting and maintaining personal boundaries can lead to people pleasing behavior. They might struggle to say “no” or express their own opinions for fear of upsetting others. As a child, you may have not been allowed to say “no” to unwanted behavior.

6. Childhood Training:

Early experiences and upbringing can shape people pleasing tendencies. Children who received praise or rewards for complying with others’ wishes may learn that prioritizing others’ needs is the path to love and acceptance.

7. Empathy and Compassion:

While empathy and compassion are positive traits, excessive empathy can lead to overextending oneself for the sake of others. As Christians, it is important to obey what God has called us to do, not what we feel forced to do.

8. Perfectionism:

The drive for perfection and the need to meet high standards can contribute to people pleasing behavior. People pleasers may feel that unless they meet others’ expectations perfectly, they have failed.

9. Cultural and Societal Norms:

Societal norms and cultural expectations can play a role in shaping people pleasing behavior. While it is important to put others first, you must also consider your own health. It is not ungodly to say “no.”

If any of these 9 things caused you to pause, keep reading to learn how to stop being a people pleaser and be your authentic self.

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RELATED: How to Deal With Isolation: 7 Best Tips When Feeling Alone

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How to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Set Healthy Boundaries

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. Be willing to change your behavior

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.

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 mental and physical health issues.

Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe (NIV).

2. Allow others to take ownership of their behavior

Stop taking ownership of other people’s feelings, thoughts, and actions.  It robs them of being accountable and responsible for their own behavior.

Let those around you make mistakes. And be there to comfort them when they do. If you continue to cover, those around you will never learn how to run to God in times of difficulty.

3. Share your authentic self with others

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. Practice saying “no” 

The danger of being a people pleaser is that you let everyone run over you. You don’t know how to say “no.”

Decide what you can and can’t do. Don’t be pressured into doing things that do not bring you life. (Some things may not be optional like dirty diapers, dishes, etc.)

Stand in front of a mirror and practice saying “no” until you are comfortable with the words. Role-play in your mind before you actually do it.

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5. Take time out to rest

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

It is time to take care of yourself. Get alone and recharge. 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 when you set biblical boundaries. Your spouse isn’t going to always approve of you either. 

What you can stand firm on is that you are always loved by God despite the feelings of others.

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1 Thessalonians 2: 4 says, “For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts” (NLT).

RELATED: How to Stop Living in Fear: 7 Ways to Overcome a Fear-Based Life

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. Pray about your commitments before you say “yes” to any of them. Surround yourself with godly people who encourage you, not intimidate, push, control, or put you down.

Find out who you are in Christ, and base your worth on what He says.

Galatians 1:10 says, “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant” (NLT).

RELATED: How to Stop Negative Self-Talk: 7 Tips to Believe the Truth

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The danger of being a people pleaserRecovering From People Pleasing

If you struggle with people pleasing, 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.

Learning to set and maintain healthy boundaries, developing effective communication skills, and understanding one’s needs and desires are important to recovery.

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).

The danger of being a people pleaser is that you are not your authentic self.  How do you suggest being your authentic self? 

 

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Got Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!

Are you experiencing family problems or have a family estrangement? Do you feel 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 (and reconciliation) from my Christian family but 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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There are tips on building a Christian home, parenting, marriage, family issues, and faith. Learn how to get back to the things that matter most in your life and the life of your family. It’s time for a revival!

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Julie is a wife, mom, author, and blogger. She writes about Christian family living, marriage, and faith with a touch of humor.

31 Comments

  1. Oboghor Karo Reply

    Thankyou so much for this! I have to put in the work from now on, I need to break free from people pleasing.

  2. Thanks for this post, I really feel encouraged, because I know I please people a lot and the Lord has been drawing me to break free from it. God bless you above measure. Amen.

  3. Thanks for these words!!!!
    They are so helpful;; people pleasing is so subtle and according to my experience thought diary is a good way to catch it.

    • Hasaa, yes, I love journaling! Such a great way to catch bad thinking. Good suggestion for people who want to stop people-pleasing. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Sheri Traxler Reply

    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.

  5. 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.

  6. Yaa Attobrah Reply

    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@

    • 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.

  7. 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.

    • 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.

  8. 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.

    • 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.

  9. 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!

    • Cayla, I have to refer back to my post too! I am so glad this was meaningful. I think nice people fall into this trap very fast. Thanks for your comment.

  10. I struggle with people pleasing myself but have learned to say no more lately. It’s done wonders for my mental health!

    • Bre, people pleasing is such a slippery slope. Who knew it would affect mental health? I am so glad you have been able to say no more often.

  11. 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!

  12. Erin Misenar Reply

    Relationships sure are complicated. Thanks for the insight.

  13. 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.

    • Candy, I hope she will get a lot out of this. It took a long time to write this because I was basically talking to myself. Ugh.

  14. 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!! 🙂

    • 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.

      • WOW! I am in total awe right now. This was indeed a very good read. Every bit of it spoke to me and brought everything I’ve thought or felt to the light. I’ve struggled with being a people pleaser as long as I can remember and I’m extremely tired. I’m thankful for finding this because it’s confirmation to many prayers. Thank you for letting God use you. Blessings 💛

        • Tiffany, I am so glad this helped you. I constantly have to ask myself if I am caught in a people-pleasing situation or if I truly need to do something. It is a lifelong struggle because I am generally a very sweet and gentle person who wants to help everyone. As you say, it is tiring. Setting boundaries is the best thing I have done. I said “no” to 2 things today, and I am so relieved. It is so freeing not to be resentful for doing things that you know you don’t need to do. Thanks for your comment.

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