Hello. My name is Marvin Williams, and I am a recovering people pleaser. I wanted to be wanted and liked to be liked. I needed validation from outside sources, especially from people I admired. It was hard for me to say “no” for fear of disappointing others. If you resonate with the list above, then you might be a people pleaser. So, what are some other indicators that you are a people pleaser? How do you fix it?
There was an insatiable desire inside me to please others. To sound tough, I used to say I didn’t care about what people said or thought about me. But, inside, I craved for others to like and accept me. I overextended so people wouldn’t be disappointed, and over-explained myself so I wouldn’t feel guilty. What is that? Signs of people-pleasing Where did this come from? Why did I so desperately need people’s approval?
Why We Strive for People’s Approval
We learn very early that if we do something well, and people give their approval, we want to do again and again “the thing” that wins the approval of others. For instance, if people applauded our performance when we were children, we learned very early to keep performing so we could be applauded again. If we painted a picture and mom gave us a treat, then we would continue to paint great pictures to get more treats. If we cleaned our rooms or ate all our vegetables, then dad would reward us. Therefore, we learned very early to perform for the reward.
If someone does not correct this behavior, it carries over into adulthood, and it becomes increasingly unhealthy. If I preach a good sermon, people applaud, and I like how that feels. So, I work hard to preach a good sermon, not to please God, but to get kudos. If washing the dishes or taking out the garbage increases my chances of intimacy at the end of the night, then you better believe I’m going to wash every dish and remove every piece of garbage from the house. Working for approval is a drug. It’s an addiction.
Signs That You Might Be a People Pleaser
Though the Bible commands us not to be people pleasers (Galatians 1:10), we find ourselves falling into this trap. I am sure there are more, but here at least 18 indicators that you might be a people pleaser. You might be a people pleaser if you:
- Worry about what others think about you
- Feel inferior to others
- Rely on people to validate your importance and your happiness
- Refuse to stand up for yourself
- Let other people control your decisions
- Have a low view of yourself
- Over-explain yourself for doing or not doing something
- Fear you will disappoint others
- Let people walk all over you
- Find it hard to say “no” and feel extreme guilt if you do
- Apologize unnecessarily for everything
- Fear offering your opinion because it might be rejected
- Live for the praise of others
- Avoid confrontation and conflict
- Feel taken advantage of
- Overextend yourself because you don’t want to disappoint others
- Bend over backward to make someone like you
- Sacrifice your legitimate needs for the sake of making others happy
- Fail to express your true feelings in a conversation
- Are not honest about how you feel
- Do things out of duty rather than desire
- Avoid confrontation with others
- Keep the peace rather than make peace
- Fear others will find out about failures and mistakes and not like you
Dangers of Being a People Pleaser
You might say that there is nothing wrong with desiring to please those we love. You would be right. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to please others. People pleasing becomes dangerous when pleasing people is greater than our desire to please God. In Proverbs 29:25, Solomon says people pleasing is a dangerous trap. Here are a few more dangers of being a people pleaser. People pleasing:
- Allow someone or something other than God to have first place (Therefore, people-pleasing is idolatry)
- Impacts our decision-making abilities
- Causes unnecessary stress in our lives
- Invites the fear of man, rather than the fear of God, to dominates our lives
- Makes you betray your authentic self and emotions
Recovering From Being a People Pleaser
- Find your security and hope in Christ. Who does God say you are? Therefore, his opinion of you has to matter more than what others think of and say about you. So, God says that you are valuable (Psalm 8:5; 139:14; Matthew 10:31), new (Romans 8:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:17); and unconditionally forgiven, accepted, validated and loved (Romans 8:39).
- Trust that only God can and will always love us in ways others can’t. Thus, he is the only one that can satisfy the love and acceptance we crave. Therefore, recognize that everyone who loves you will never love you like Jesus loves you (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:1). His love is perfect, pure, unconditional and satisfying. God is crazy about you.
Yvonne Pierre says:
The increased desire to please God and seek HIS approval will decrease the desire to seek approval from man.
Out of the twenty-four indicators of people-pleasing, which one stands out to you?
What are some others ways we can heal from being people pleasers?