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The Harsh Truth about being a People Pleaser

Are you a People Pleaser? I have been. I struggle against striving to please people almost daily. But the struggle has gotten easier since I learned the truth.(Last Updated On: December 15, 2017)

Are you a people pleaser? I have been. I struggle against striving to please people almost daily. But the struggle has gotten easier since I learned the truth.

Know what you get when a ‘recovering’ control freak is mixed with a harmony desiring people pleaser?


And it was messy and hard. And made me completely crazy! Didn’t do much for my family either.

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God’s been working on this area of my heart for some time now. I’m finally ready to grow past this selfish need to be perfect in everyone’s eyes.

That’s right, selfish. People pleasing is at its root self-centered, worrying about what others think of me all the time, worrying about MY reputation, how people talk about ME.

The first harsh truth about being a people pleaser is that it’s SIN.

Harsh truth about being a people pleaser? It's selfish, proud, and sinful. #peoplepleaser Click To Tweet

Pleasing people sounds so selfless, being intentionally considerate as much as humanly possible, weighing the feelings and needs of everyone, trying to make sure people feel loved and important.

Phew! Honestly, it’s exhausting.

and it’s crap.

Trying to be perfect isn’t selfless; it’s really pride.

In my arrogance, I felt like the happiness of everyone around me was my responsibility. If I failed as a person, then I failed as a witness for Christ.

And my human failings cause me to stumble. The weight of all this self-imposed stress drags me under the swirling waters of life, and my emotions get the better of me – what I intended doesn’t come out right at all.

Then I’m left running this crazy dialogue in my head, “How did this happen?  Is this MY fault?”

I strangle myself with guilt over having failed someone unintentionally and damaged my value in their estimation.

When in fact, I damaged my witness more through my false perfectionism than I ever could in my humble brokenness.

And I was taking responsibility for things that were not mine to own.

The second harsh truth is – We are not supposed to please people.

Being a people pleaser detracts from our true identity.

When we focus so much on how people perceive us, we aren’t keeping our focus where it belongs. Everything in my life starts to unravel when I take my eyes off Him.

Being a people pleaser is exhausting and detracts from our true identity in Christ. Click To Tweet

My sole responsibility is owning my identity as a child of God.

John 1:12 ESV  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

God has convicted me that all I’m supposed to do is strive to live pleasing Him, continually growing in gentleness and humility, wisdom and discernment. As I do that, my attitude toward others becomes naturally kind, intentional, loving in a way that isn’t about me at all.

He has shown me the daily need for spending time in my Bible. Even missing one day changes the way my flesh reacts to my daily life.

Colossians 3:12 ESV  Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

When I worry about pleasing God ONLY (not first, ONLY), I put on compassion, humility, patience. I practice kindness and gentleness. Living those values will serve those in my life.

As I continue to change, some will be so pleased and encouraged by my righteousness and gentle spirit. Some won’t be pleased at all. They’ll be angry that I’m not running myself ragged, jumping through their hoops. That’s okay. I can’t do everything that everyone needs. I have to prioritize the mission field that God gave me. 

  1. My own spiritual walk
  2. Serving and loving my spouse
  3. Being a mother
  4. Caring for my family and friends
  5. Mentoring/Discipleship
  6. Serving in my community/church

Dividing myself and my attention into a million pieces isn’t healthy. God asks us to serve and work hard for Him, but we have to pay attention to the jobs that He has given us. And leave the rest to Him.

Jesus didn’t please everyone. He lived a peaceful, sinless life that made some people hate him all the way to the cross.

Because you can’t really please people.

We misunderstand, fail to communicate, and filter our thoughts through our own human brokenness and perspectives.

The third harsh truth about being a people pleaser is – that it doesn’t work!

Often, when I try to please people on my own, I end up hurt and rejected, wondering what happened.

One of these days, I hope I’ll truly learn that apart from Christ I am wholly incapable of bearing His fruit.

The harsh truth about being a people pleaser is that it's not our job to try to please PEOPLE. Click To Tweet

John 15:5 ESV  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Only abiding in Christ and His word releases me from my hamster wheel of doom; because in Him alone can I find the peace of knowing His truths over human feelings.

I can’t force anyone to love or respect me, accept my apology, see my perspective, or be my friend.

I have to do my best to humbly try to please God, knowing He loves me from the inside out.

And let the rest go. That isn’t my side of the equation.

33 thoughts on “The Harsh Truth about being a People Pleaser

  1. Hi, Jennifer. I follow you on Pinterest and landed on your post. When I see myself being a people pleaser it’s usually due to fear of rejection. Rejection is also rooted in pride. I’m repinning your post. Btw, I have a group board, God in Action. Let me know if you want to join. I’m on Pinterest @thekellysinging Nice to meet you!

    1. Thanks for dropping by! Rejection is a big factor as well! I would love an invitation to your board.

  2. “Dividing myself and my attention into a million pieces isn’t healthy. God asks us to serve and work hard for Him, but we have to pay attention to the jobs that He has given us. And leave the rest to Him.” Rightfully said and it couldn’t get any better. Doing many things for people in the midst of your self shattering isn’t service at all.

    1. Exactly! Thank you!

  3. I love your writing! I can relate to all of it. I, too am a people pleaser and I also learned (the hard way) that it was selfishness that made me jump through all of those hoops for others rather than selflessness. It took me a long time to figure that out and I absolutely love how well you described it. You are doing a wonderful thing with your blog and with your message. I enjoy all of your posts.

    1. Oh, thank you so much. Your encouragement means a lot to me. I may not have a big following, but I know that when I wait for God to put something on my heart it always changes me. It is nice to hear it helps others too.

  4. So true! There is definitely a balance between all of this. Yes, we should try to live at peace with people and bring a presence of joy where we go, but we live to honor God. Not others or ourselves.

    1. Definitely a difference between being at peace and trying to be perfect.

  5. As someone who has been a people pleaser most of my life I can totally relate to this post. I am also in the place of letting go of my pride and not worrying about what people think. I think many have a similar struggle but this subject is rarely brought to light. Thank you for sharing! ❤️

    1. It is so hard, but I think I will feel better in the end

  6. I sometimes struggle with being a people pleaser, until it took a toll on my mental and spiritual health. This is a post all people pleasers should read, because it’s so true.

    1. Thank you! We can support each other in recovery. 😂

  7. I love this angle, and I hope that I remember it the next time I feel the need to please others. I didn’t realize that by trying to please or fix other people, it might get in the way of their relationship with God, or my relationship with Him; because I can’t even save myself. Only He can save me and make me a better person. And isn’t it funny that He’s easier to please than anyone else? Your post brightened my day, thanks!

    1. I’m so glad you dropped by for a visit! You are right that we sometimes need to let God work and get out of His way.

  8. I loved this post! God has been working on me in the same regard. I sometimes feel like I am always doing what others want and putting people before myself and the call of God that on my life. I spend so much time trying to please family members that I am lost within. I find that makes me unhappy. Everyone else is pleased with me but inside I feel like I am not doing what God wants me to do. Time out for that, is what God told me. Make this year the year you say no and follow me. And that’s exactly what I am doing.

    1. Trying to make everyone happy made me so stressed that it made me unpleasant to be around even though I took care of everything for everyone. Letting go of that stress and feeling responsible for others feelings about me is goi g to be such a positive change for me!

  9. What great verses! Whew. I think this is a harsh truth for so many of us. I need to please HIM, not others!

    1. Thinking of it as a sin has really changed my thinking.

  10. Thank you! I am such a people pleaser. I hate saying no even when I should. I take things so personally. I want everyone to be happy. But, real life just doesn’t work that way. You are right. All I can do is humbly live my life trying to please God and not worry about the rest.

    1. It is so hard to say no to good and Godly things, but what is God actually asking of us?

  11. This is so powerful! Love this thought “When in fact, I damaged my witness more through my false perfectionism than I ever could in my humble brokenness.”

    It is true. We are all fallen people and when we put on fake perfectionism we are not promoting what is of God. He works through the weak and broken to shine His glory through their cracks and then to make them whole. Allowing others to see him shine through our cracks will glorify Him, not allowing it will stifle His work.

    Great post!

    1. Thank you! I wish God’s work in me wasn’t so messy, but without it, I wouldn’t be able to be so honest and real with others learning these lessons too

  12. Guilty! But I’m changing — because of God’s help. This was a good post for me to read. I know it will help me on my journey. Thinking of it as sinful is convicting.

    1. This might sound strange, but as I was writing it, I felt like the post wasn’t quite right. And I let it sit while I prayed. That’s when God convicted me of the selfish sin of it. I had never really thought about it that way either. But the more I put it in that perspective, the more I see I was getting my value from human opinions instead of focusing on my eternal value as God’s child.

  13. Yes, it’s so true that the need to please others comes from your own sense of pride. Way to speak the truth!

  14. Its like you are living in my head! I too struggle with being a people pleaser. It is a journey I am on to learn to please God alone and be confident in the decisions I am making based on the promises of Scripture and constant prayer. Thank you for sharing.

    1. It is so hard to let go of the desire for people to value and respect us. But that is what the people pleasing is all based on – my need for external validation from people. And I’m done. Mic drop. God’s validation is what I’ll seek. The rest is up to Him.

  15. It’s impossible to please everyone; even more ridiculous to think we are capable of doing so.. I agree with this post. The best insight is the fact that God didn’t plan for us to “please” everyone. Christ just wants us to love everyone. Great post!

    1. Thanks, Rachel, letting go of those expectations removes so much stress.

  16. I have those kind of tendencies myself

  17. Love this! How true about it being a pride thing.

    1. Pride gets me everytime.

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