Is people pleasing eating away at your life?
People pleasing is the practice of doing things to keep others happy, without consideration of your desire and choice. Many people live in bondage to people pleasing, but they don’t see it as an unhealthy thing. They think they are doing God’s work, when in reality they have become a puppet to what other people say and demand.
It takes courage to break free of people pleasing, but we often need to see the damage it is creating in our lives before we make a change.
Living according to the people-pleasing monster will lead us down a slow but deadly trail. I am sure you will notice some of these effects that occur:
1. We become compelled by obligation rather than freely led by love.
People-pleasers do not understand healthy love, so they look for outside voices to tell them what to do. This makes them vulnerable to the guilt and intimidation of others. As a result, they end up being driven by obligation and not loving choice.
They confuse guilt with the voice of love, so they chase whatever demands come their way. Whenever they try to put a boundary up, they are tormented by the conflict within, coming out of the unmet demands of others.
2. We lose who we are.
When we are so tuned in to what others think, our identity becomes wrapped around what they say. This is why identity security can be so unstable. We built who we are on what others think, which changes from moment to moment.
People-pleasing focuses on everyone else and feeding what they want, while often ignoring the needs of one’s own heart.
3. What God thinks gets lost in the sea of opinion.
What really matters is what God thinks, but He is not going to compete with the toxic noise that is interfering with His voice. The Apostle Paul confronted this interference in his writings:
For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. Galatians 1:10
I find that chronic people pleasers often say they deeply struggle in hearing God’s voice. This can often be because the demands of others are the loudest voices in their heart.
Paul knew that if he played to the opinions of man, he would live as a servant to people and not of Christ. His statement of “if I still pleased men” shows us that at one point he had to deal with the people-pleasing issue. Someone who learns to please God first, will not be consumed with satisfying people.
4. We lose the ability to give the blessing of just being ourselves.
Every person is a gift from God to this planet. People-pleasing steals the value of a person’s uniqueness and steals the contribution they carry for this planet. In morphing, according to every whim and opinion of the crowd, the person’s special blend of who they really are in God never gets to fully shine.
People-pleasing steals the value of a person’s uniqueness and steals the contribution they carry for this planet.
5. Life becomes inauthentic.
People-pleasing trains us to become fabricated and “plastic” relationally. Instead of having our own opinions, values and perspectives, we get lost in what everyone else thinks or believes. Those who carry this issue will struggle to ever make a difference in the world, simply because they are just blending into the system.
People-pleasing sucks the realness of relationships right out. There may be plenty of interactions, but no real depth, because there is no room to express what we really think. Real relationships have times of healthy disagreement and even confrontation. That is how we grow and improve. People-pleasers avoid uncomfortable moments at all costs. No wonder life gets dull and mundane.
6. We live as a slave rather than a true servant.
We are servants, not slaves. A servant has a choice in the matter, whereas a slave is bound by obligation and nothing else. In fact, a slave has no choice in any matter.
As believers, God did not force us to Him. We chose. Those who are children of God each made a decision to give their life to God. We are in service to Him. We are not called to be slaves to mankind, but to serve them with love and there is a difference.
7. People pleasing steals our joy.
C. JoyBell C. said, “The unhappiest people in this world, are those who care the most about what other people think.”
When you see people who are burned out, angry and jaded by life, you will often find people who were trying to please someone else and never seemed to succeed. What they once loved and enjoyed now creates a bitter taste in their mouth. Satan loves to steal our joy. His expertise is evident in those who burn out from trying to please.
8. The life gets sucked out of us.
People-pleasers live to please, but they never really live.
When we are true to who God says we are, even though people may not always understand or may disagree. we will find ourselves part of a great adventure. There is much risk in living life to the fullest, true to your core values, and challenging fruitless ways. People-pleasing never allows us to enter into that adventure.
We end up seeking the safe and cushy life, never stretching ourselves or the world around us. Instead, we waste our energy attempting to anticipate and fulfill every opinion of others. Later on, many live with regret because they spent their time trying to please a loved-one or leader while sacrificing their own ability to live. If you are driven to only do and be what the crowd expects of you, then, in a way, you have lost the ability to live.
We end up seeking the safe and cushy life, never stretching ourselves or the world around us.
The people-pleasing monster is never satisfied!
People-pleasing is never satisfying, so the trap never ends. There will always be something more we can do to gain the approval we deeply long for.
I have watched many people chase the approval of a parent for their entire life. Often they never receive the approval they’re looking for, and they are unable to come to a place of resolve in their life.
I’ve witnessed people chase the approval and validation of friends by any means possible, while compromising their own identity and journey. How many children have you seen pursue a career they hated, simply because they were looking for the approval of a parent? What about the one who compromises their values, simply to get the approval and acceptance of a boyfriend or girlfriend?
In the end, people pleasers end up becoming burned out and angry. Yet the ability to choose is in our hands. But we must crave for a more healthy life to consider changing in the first place.