Have you ever felt guilty telling others the word “No”? Are you constantly worried about what others think of you? You are not alone! People-pleasing is something that I struggled with for years and is a pretty common issue, especially in the Christian community. The desire to make someone else happy isn’t a problem, but doing so at the expense of yourself is a sign of a deep-rooted issue. People-pleasing (or codependency) usually comes from a fear of abandonment or rejection.
There are certain things that we naturally desire as human beings; to be loved is one of them. It is not enough to be loved if we do not know or believe that we are loved.
People pleasers tend to perform and wear a mask to receive something from people that is already given to them freely by God. Many of us learned at some point in our lives that we were only lovable when we were portraying a certain image or behaving a certain way; so we continued on with this act.
The pressure of being who others want you to be will eventually become a burden too great to bear. Sacrificing who you are and your God-given desires to satisfy people can have such a crippling effect and may prevent you from living in the abundance that God offers.
Being a people pleaser does not have to be something that you identify with forever. As Christ followers, we have the luxury of taking on a new identity and being free from people-pleasing.
3 ways you can break free from people-pleasing:
STAND CONFIDENTLY IN YOUR GOD-GIVEN IDENTITY
People-pleasing, like most things, is an identity issue. When we don’t know who we are, we give people the God-sized task of telling us who we are. The fickleness of people makes them an unstable source to place your identity in.
The beauty of God is His consistency. What He says about you isn’t dependent on anything that you do or don’t do. God’s love for you is unchanging, even when you may not be the best version of yourself.
We have to find confidence in who God is, so that we can trust what God says about us. Once we accept that we are already loved and chosen by God, our life has meaning because God says so. Then we can stop looking for people to fill this void because we’ve allowed God to fill us with His confidence instead.
Psalm 139:14 states, “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”
Practical tip #1: For the next four weeks, read the verse of scripture below that states your God-given identity. For each week, memorize that scripture and verbally acknowledge what it is saying about you out loud or in written form.
Example: Read Psalm 139:14 everyday for a week . Each morning verbally say, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”.
Repeat this with the following scripture; one for each week.
Week One: 1 Peter 2:9 Week Two: Ephesians 1:7 Week Three: Philippians 3:20 Week Four: Colossians 3:12
2. SURRENDER CONTROL
People-pleasing is a form of control. We may believe that we are being givers. We can convince ourselves that if we control the circumstances or emotions of someone, then we can receive what we deeply desire from them.
Control is rooted in fear. If we are not in control, we end up fearing the unknown. The fear of how people will view us or respond to us can be debilitating. By surrendering this fear to God, we make space for Him to move forward with confidence in us.
The realization that we cannot be everything for everyone is a game changer, but God can. God can save people. God can give people true happiness and ultimately, provide what we are looking for in people. There is only so much that we can do and should do. We have to surrender control to God and trust that He can handle it all.
Mark 10:27 states, “Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
Practical Tip #2: Pray before you act. When we learn to stop and pray for guidance before we act, we make time and space for God to let us know how we should respond.
3. LOVE FREELY
The beauty of God sacrificing Jesus was that it was an expression of love for us that can never be repaid to Him. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was not so God could hold it over our head and control us, but to give us a life of freedom. Even though there is absolutely nothing we could give God in return for His sacrifice of Christ on the cross, He still chose to love us anyway.
The same way that God loves us freely, we should love those around us freely. The people pleasers’ version of love is attached to a hidden motive of receiving something in return. Love is ultimately self-less and not self-sabotaging. This can often be misinterpreted by a people pleaser.
Our love for people should come from a place of abundance, not lack. We should accept the love that God has already freely given us, so that when we love others, it can also be given freely.
1 John 4:9-11 states, “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”
Practical Tip #3: Before you act, pause. Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?”
Pray and consult with God.
Questions to ask oneself:
Do I genuinely want to do it?
Do I fear disappointment or loss of a relationship?
Do I have anxiety or am I at peace?
Sometimes we can be eager to respond with a “yes,” but we need to learn when to say “no.”
I pray that you are able to find freedom in God’s love for you. Once you accept the abundant life that God is offering, you will be able to share with others in a way that you have never been able to before. You will be able to love from a place of love, give from abundance and not lack, and go from wanting to please people to pleasing God more. Being free from people is to be free with God, and that is a wonderful place to be.