People-pleasing. Stop it!

I found an article on Psychology Today called, “10 Signs You’re a People-Pleaser.” If you can identify with a few of these, it’s probably worth your time to keep reading!

  1. You pretend to agree with everyone.
  2. You feel responsible for how other people feel.
  3. You apologize often.
  4. You feel burdened by the things you have to do.
  5. You can’t say no.
  6. You feel uncomfortable if someone is angry at you.
  7. You act like the people around you.
  8. You need praise to feel good.
  9. You go to great lengths to avoid conflict.
  10. You don’t admit when your feelings are hurt.

Most professionals (and amateurs) agree that people-pleasing is an unhealthy habit and almost always a self-worth issue. Being kind is not the same thing as being a people-pleaser. This way of life is usually learned at a young age and by the time you’re old enough to be self-actualizing, it’s as ingrained in you as your eating habits – which we all know are hard to change (shout out to oversized sweatshirts)! The how to stop people-pleasing isn’t very complicated. Just stop doing the stuff on this list. Say no to something small, express your own genuine opinion, stop apologizing for everything you do. It’s usually the why behind people-pleasing that makes it hard to stop. It doesn’t seem like it’s hurting anyone. In fact, your people-pleasing ways are probably making some others’ lives better. However, if nothing else, it is harming you. You cannot reach your highest goals, step out to accomplish your dreams, or be mentally healthy enough to take necessary risks when you’re too busy wondering if this person likes you or how that person feels about you. So let’s address some reasons why to give up this addictive and harmful habit.  

You cannot blame people for misusing you when you allow yourself to be misused.

It is your job to set boundaries in your relationships. If someone else doesn’t want to respect those boundaries, the consequence is a weakening of relational interaction with them. This is not to say that every time a friend makes you mad, you end the friendship. That’s another problem for another blog post. What you must understand is that you have the power and responsibility to say no to some things. If you choose not to, the imperfect people you’re around will take advantage of you. But as an adult, no one can take advantage of you without your consent. What I mean is that no one can make you drive across town to pick up their great-aunt on your lunch break. No one can force you to buy them nice things. No one can make you give them your last piece of gum. I think friendship is a beautiful thing that we all need. And to do favors like these for your close friends is a part of friendship. This is where we find a wrinkle – as a people-pleaser you have to understand that not everyone is your close friend. But just because they can’t or wouldn’t reciprocate your kind deeds doesn’t mean they won’t ask you to go above and beyond for them. Why? Because you’ve shown them that they can! Stop saying yes. Stop overextending… at least until you’re mentally tough enough to know why you’re doing these things. A recovered people-pleaser can do the extraordinary favor out of the goodness of their heart and willingness to serve others. But for a recovering people-pleaser, it’s better to not, at least for a time. If you feel that people take advantage of you, step back and ask yourself why they feel they can do that. Take responsibility for your part and stop allowing it to happen.

You have true friends – they’re hidden among the masses you want to impress.

You fear that if you stop overextending, volunteering, praising, that you’ll be left with no one to spend your time/share your life with. That’s not true. You have real friends who love you for who you are and not what you do. They want to have a real relationship with you! Sure, when you begin to build boundaries, you will lose some. That’s very important to understand ahead of time. You might even find that those you expected to stick around don’t and vice versa. You’ll 100% lose the opportunists who’ve realized the advantage of having you around as long as you’re functioning as they know you to. These people are more like patrons of a restaurant and they will stop going if the menu changes. Most of us as we get older begin to understand the value in a few close friendships over a multitude of shallow ones. I know my closest friends would do almost anything from take me to the airport to let me live with them if times get tough. Friends are awesome. Now, because I know that I have people who love me that much, I go out of my way to not take advantage of them and vice versa. You have people in your life who love you for who you are and not what you do but you’ll never know who they are until you stop doing everything for everyone all the time. Your circle will become smaller… but your mental health and confidence in your relationships will become greater, which will actually make you into a better friend for the real ones.

You may be robbing yourself from the blessings of serving God because your service is done in public, always followed by human praise.

Now, you’re most likely a Christian if you’re reading this. So you might be confused if you know some of the commands we as Christ followers are supposed to follow. Whoever wants to be the greatest must become the least. We are to go the extra mile for everyone – friends, acquaintances and even “enemies.” So, if you’re people-pleasing, aren’t you also God-pleasing? No, because of one giant reason. As Christians, we love others because we ourselves are loved by God. As people-pleasers, we “love” others to get them to “love” us back. Jesus is clear about how we are rewarded when we serve others (or really do anything good). We are warned that those who do their good deeds in public for human recognition have “received their reward in full,” meaning that Instagram shout out is your reward. God had a better one for you, but you settled for what you could see and have right now. God is pleased when we do things for Him and others without looking for immediate or public repayment. That’s where the issue of self-worth comes back around. Are we supposed to be audaciously generous with all of our resources, times, talents? Yes. BUT, that is only because God audaciously loves us and calls us enough. You will actually learn to be more kind-hearted when you stop being a people-pleaser, because your reason for kindness will no longer be selfish, but selfless.

Learn to love yourself because God loves you. Pleasing Him won’t always mean pleasing people. You might spend seasons of life feeling lonely, but you’re never alone. And those seasons? They have their purpose and are temporary. You are incredibly and unfairly favored and loved. Now share that love with others and create authentic friendships that are mutually beneficial and God-pleasing.

– Kaimana Gonzalez

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