7 Unhealthy People-Pleasing Thoughts You Need to Stop

7 Unhealthy People-Pleasing Thoughts You Need to Stop

As a child, I came from a home where love was given based on my performance. This skewed my view of God, making him a genie in a bottle that was only there to do things for me, not to love me for who I was. When I first became a pastor’s wife after giving my life to Jesus, I felt I had to fill the shoes of the former pastor’s wife in order to be viewed as adequate. You know what I found? I was miserable! I was running from activity to activity, half of which I had no passion for, and feeling the effects of burnout before I even understood what that was. I wasn’t being true to who I was or how God had wired me. And I learned quickly that in order to value myself, I had to draw proper boundaries and shift my perspective about how I viewed myself and how I viewed God.

These are some of the people pleasing behaviors I used to have and how I renewed my mind from these attitudes:

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  • 1. “I fear others won’t like me if I don’t do this”

    1. “I fear others won’t like me if I don’t do this”

    The first part that is wrong about this attitude is that letting fear rule your life is not only wrong, it’s unbiblical. The Bible tells us to “fear not” over three hundred times. We are called to lean on God (not our own understanding) and trust that he is in control of the situation. Fear is the antithesis of this in that we don’t trust God but rather ourselves to fix the problem.

    The second issue with this thought is that our worth is predicated upon others’ perceptions. God not only loves us, he likes us. Despite our sin and poor choices at times, God likes us for who we are, not what we do.

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  • 2. “If I say no, I’ll be viewed as being unchristian”

    2. “If I say no, I’ll be viewed as being unchristian”

    Christians have a false view that saying no means we are uncaring or not displaying the fruits of the spirit. We often opt to lie instead of doing the right thing. When we say yes when we really want to say no, we lie to others and ourselves. This devalues our power and strips us of our ability to draw proper, healthy boundaries for our emotional and spiritual health. To be like Jesus, we need to be honest with ourselves and with others. Jesus always told the truth as he is the only truth we can know for sure. Saying no doesn’t make you unchristian; it makes you honest. 

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  • 3. “My worth is based on others approval"

    3. “My worth is based on others approval"

    My worth was paid for on the cross a long time ago. Basing it on other’s approval of me means I am not enough the way I am. It also creates a false sense of perfectionism.

    I have to be perfect and do everything the right way to receive others’ approval. If I make a mistake, I lose my worth and value.

    This feels like a seesaw, trying to balance our emotional stability on one end, with our ever-changing self-esteem that rises or plummets based on how well we do things. Thoughts like, “I must be stupid for not doing that right,” or “I’m not enough unless I perform to everyone else’s standard of perfection.” These thoughts, if left unchecked, lead to further lies about who we are in Christ. People’s like or dislike of us should not be based on how well we do the tasks we are handed. We are enough even if we make mistakes.

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  • 4. “I have to assume responsibility for everyone"

    4. “I have to assume responsibility for everyone"

    People pleasers often have full to-do lists and schedules full of activities, some of which they probably should have said no to and now are paying the price. They feel they have to fix everyone’s problems, assuming a superhero complex in which they have all the tools and resources to take care of everyone—except themselves. Everyone else plants their problems on the people pleaser feeling relieved of their burden, while the people pleaser feels more stressed. We are only responsible for one person—ourselves. Trying to fix everyone else indicates a soul issue that they have to get involved to be loved.  Healthy people know when to say enough is enough.

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  • 5. “I have to agree with you to be accepted by you”

    5. “I have to agree with you to be accepted by you”

    I see this often in our social media driven society. Offering a difference of opinion almost immediately results in a character assassination rather than a healthy debate. It seems we have lost our ability to agree to disagree. In a relativistic world, we have to agree with popular opinion, even if it is not biblical. Just because we disagree with someone, doesn’t mean we don’t accept her for who she is. A person’s choices are separate from who they are, yet many link their character with their behavior. That is why Christianity is so refreshing. Accepting the gift of Christ’s salvation without having to do anything to earn it is a radical concept, even today. Acceptance doesn’t have to be earned; it is given freely. We just have to learn to open that gift daily despite what the world says.

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  • 6. “I have to apologize even if I am not wrong”

    6. “I have to apologize even if I am not wrong”

    People pleasers avoid conflict like the plague. They will say or do anything to make peace, even if it means apologizing when they are not wrong. Although it seems to create an atmosphere of peace, it actually creates a lack of peace within the soul, blurring the lines between what is right and wrong. It also only sweeps the issue under an imaginary rug. When we don’t deal with issues, our negligence results in anxiety and strife with those around us. This, accompanied with not being anchored in the Word, will make any people pleaser step over boundaries they were never meant to cross. Healthy people know the difference between when they are right and when they are wrong. This increases their self-awareness. If they don’t, it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict their conscience. However, the longer we stay in the sin of people pleasing, the harder it is for the Holy Spirit to speak to their hearts, which decreases their self-awareness.

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  • 7. “I Have to act like Jekyll and Hyde”

    7. “I Have to act like Jekyll and Hyde”

    Being with people pleasers can feel like they are two different people. They are one way in public and a different person in private. This is because they are not comfortable going against the crowd. They feel like they have to do and say what everyone else is doing to be liked. But this creates a sense of distrust among friends who know them well but are never quite sure who they will get when they spend time with them. This creates a level of inauthenticity and provides a barrier between themselves and the Holy Spirit. God wants to have an intimate relationship with everyone. The Holy Spirit can’t speak to our hearts if we are one way with him and one way with everyone else. This means we have to be truly honest about our thoughts and beliefs.

    Jesus is the truth, and if we follow him, we have to tell the truth about ourselves. Anything else cheapens God’s role in our lives.

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  • "He understands our true worth..."

    "He understands our true worth..."

    It is tiring trying to conform to everyone else’s ideals. We are blessed to serve a God who likes us for us. He understands our true worth in Him. He bought us with a price and knows we were worth the cost of sacrificing His son. If God lives in this understanding, we should too. The moment we can accept ourselves as children of the King and royal heirs to His throne, the quicker we can get off the seesaw of emotional stability and find the true joy promised in an intimate relationship with the Savior. 

    Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year, the Enduring Light Silver Medal and the Maxwell Award, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She is also an associate literary agent with Wordwise Media Services. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.

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