Tips To Break Free From Unhealthy People-Pleasing Habits
Do you ever feel trapped in thinking you can’t say no to certain people because you’re afraid of hurting their feelings? Sound familiar? I’m here to encourage you how to stop being a people-pleaser and live a healthier, more fulfilling life!
Get ready for some self-reflection, good questions, and lots of sharing.
Time to learn and grow together!
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What is a people-pleaser?
A people-pleaser is normally someone that most people consider to be helpful, kind, and always available.
They are the people who never say no to anything, be it a night out with the girls, big celebration, or any kind of last-minute errand someone needs.
People-pleasing involves putting someone else’s needs before your own, and oftentimes at the expense of the one serving. There is a tendency for the people-pleaser to be taken advantage of because “they never say no.”
It’s not a bad thing to be known as a helpful person, but when the helping becomes part of your identity and starts to take an emotional toll on you, maybe it’s time to evaluate the people-pleasing.
What are the signs of a people-pleaser?
Here are 10 descriptors of people-pleasing tendencies. Please don’t freak out if some of these describe you. This is just a list for self-evaluation!
You may be a people-pleaser if you…
- Pretend to agree with everyone just to be accepted
- Feel responsible for how other people feel
- Feel burdened by the things you have to do
- Apologize often
- Can’t say no
- Feel uncomfortable if someone is angry with you
- Need praise to feel good
- Act like the people around you
- Don’t admit when your feelings are hurt
- Go out of your way to avoid conflict
This list is a gut punch to me in a lot of ways.
I like to describe myself as a recovering people-pleaser.
Meaning, I used to be addicted to the approval of others but I’m learning to break free from those unhealthy habits.
I have definitely pretended to agree with everyone just to please the crowd, I’ve been known to overly apologize, and I still tend to avoid conflict like the plague. AAAAHHHHHH! Blasted people-pleasing!
What’s helpful for me to see is that there are many redeeming qualities portrayed in this list.
It’s good to be kind and considerate of other people’s feelings and needs. I want to serve and love others well.
One thing that stands out to me in this list of people-pleasing traits is the common thread of being inauthentic.
Think about it…if you’re constantly agreeing with everyone, doing whatever people ask you to do (even if you hate it) and acting like other people want so they’ll like you, you have lost your authenticity!
Don’t you want your relationships with others to be marked by genuine interactions and the truest version of yourself?
I think deep down we all desire to be loved and accepted for who we are, not for who others say we should be.
People-pleasing kills the authenticity vibe, replacing it with a fake version of ourselves.
It’s extremely unhealthy to try and be all things to all people, and honestly it’s a recipe for a very unhappy life.
What are some effects of being a people-pleaser?
Someone who is trapped in a people-pleasing mentality can easily lose sight of who they are. Maybe what started out as a pattern has turned into a lifestyle, and basically all of their likes and dislikes depend on who they’re around. They completely blend in.
Let’s look at Inauthentic Andy and Agreeable Ally. They both deal with various versions of people-pleasing.
He’s hilarious around his college buddies, reserved around his girlfriend, quiet around his grandparents, liberal with his work friends and conservative with his family, sarcastic with his brothers, and sweet around his mom.
On Saturdays he thinks he has to LOVE football because his college buddies do. He doesn’t want them to think he’s uncool. He’s actually not into sports at all.
Acceptance and being fake is better to him than the fear of potential rejection. In reality, he’d love to be his truest self around his friends, but he just can’t. He’s totally trapped in the people-pleasing life. It may seem like he has tons of friends and is happy, but in reality he’s not happy at all.
Ally is known for rarely saying no to anybody. She is fueled by other people’s approval and affirmation which means she’s also terrified of people being disappointed or upset with her, especially her mother.
This really is present over the holidays when it comes to family plans. Her husband John would love for it to just be their immediate family on Christmas Day, but Ally is insistent that disappointing her mom wouldn’t be worth it. Ally and her husband circle back to this conversation multiple times leading up to Christmas, and in the end her husband gives in.
They spend the day with Ally’s family and are so exhausted by the time they get home that everyone just goes to bed and crashes. Ally can sense that John is frustrated but in her head she thinks, I know he’s irritated, but there’s no way I could have said no to my mom. I couldn’t deal with the fallout from that. He will be fine. He doesn’t understand.
Have you ever felt trapped like Andy? Conforming to everyone around you to be well-liked?
What about Ally? Are you afraid of someone’s disapproval enough to cater to their wants every time?
How is that working for you?
It’s probably not going very well.
But I think if we’re honest, we can all relate to Andy and Ally in some respects.
Here are some negative effects of people-pleasing:
- Lack of self-care
- Built up resentment
- Inability to enjoy yourself
- Overcommitted and worn out
- Spread too thin
- Stressed and anxious
- Lack of sleep
- Feelings of guilt and shame when you can’t help someone
These do not sound like things most people would want to invite into their lives.
If we are wanting to steer clear of this type of lifestyle, let’s talk about how to break free from all of these tendencies.
How do I stop being a people-pleaser and break free from these unhealthy habits?
Knowing you have these tendencies and recognizing you need to change is a GREAT first step! You are on your way to breaking free!
Remember, you can’t be all things to all people. You just can’t. Nobody can!
When it comes to breaking old habits, you have to start small. Baby steps.
Give yourself lots of time and grace and remember that it’s a process.
For an avid people-pleaser it’s important to…
- Start saying no on occasion
- Decline an invitation if you’re too busy.
- Express a real opinion to someone you normally agree with (disagree with someone!)
- Remember that you have a choice and a voice in every matter
- Put boundaries in your life where there used to be none
- Know your limits and when you need to pull back
- Learn to be okay with negative responses from people
- Remember that a “No” to something is a “Yes” to something else for you, even if it’s just some downtime
- Not find your worth in others’ opinions of you but in who God has called you to be
- Speak up for your opinions and feelings, especially when you’ve been hurt
- Be confident in the wonderful person you are
Don’t let this list overwhelm you! Look at it as helpful habits to build into your life over time.
Hopefully we are working towards being healthier and more fulfilled versions of ourselves each and every day.
In order to do that, we can’t be tied down by the fear of what others may think about us if we don’t do what they’re asking.
We need to be our beautiful selves and share that with the world!
I’d like to leave you with some great quotes from Scripture about how God sees us, as well as some famous quotes about being true to yourself.
I hope you are encouraged!
What does the Bible say about people-pleasing?
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)
“For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)
“But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” (I Thessalonians 2:4)
“Nevertheless, many did believe in Him (Jesus) even among the rulers, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, so they would not be banned from the synagogue. For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.” (John 12:42-43)
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31)
Good stuff right there. I obviously have some more heart work to take care of because of my people-pleasing tendencies.
I want to focus my attitudes, actions, and words on pleasing God and living for His glory, not for the approval from other people. Living for people’s approval and acceptance is extremely unhealthy and will not equate to a joy-filled life.
And at the end of the day, other people’s opinions don’t matter. They don’t!
Let’s look at some awesome people-pleasing quotes. Some of these are real zingers!
Quotes about people-pleasing
“If you live for people’s acceptance, you will die from their rejection.” ~Lecrae
“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
“I can’t tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” ~Ed Sheeran
“If you try to please all, you please none.” ~Aesop
“If you are busy pleasing everyone, you are not being true to yourself.” ~Jocelyn Murray
“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” ~Aristotle
“Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Risk being seen in all of your glory.” ~Jim Carrey
“The only thing wrong with trying to please everyone is that there’s always at least one person who will remain unhappy. You.” ~Elizabeth Parker
Be free, my friend, from other people’s opinions and expectations of you.
Here’s to living a healthier, happier life as the beautiful person God has created you to be!
Lots of love to each of you,
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)