Years ago, I was a bit of a chameleon.
No, I didn’t change colors, but I was constantly changing who I was to fit what I thought people wanted me to be. And, as the culture changed its idea of the “perfect” woman, I adapted to fit that image.
I’ll never forget standing in front of the mirror with angry tears streaming down my cheeks shouting, “I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!”
I felt like I could NEVER be enough for people. No matter what I did, or how hard I tried, I just fell short.
Thankfully, I learned a simple truth that brought me out of my people-pleasing prison.
You only need one person’s approval—God’s.
People pleasing can become such a deeply rooted pattern that it’s hard to recognize you’re even doing it. If you’re anything like, me, you’ve probably told yourself that you’re just being nice because it’s the right thing to do when, really, you’re letting yourself become a doormat for people who don’t have your best interests at heart.
That’s because our identities are in the wrong place.
We’re called to walk in love, but when we’re people pleasing, we are operating from a place of guilt, NOT love or obedience to God.
I learned how to stop living for the opinions of people the long, hard way, but you don’t have to.
According to Counseling Recovery, here are the seven most common mind-sets of a people pleaser:
1. If I say no, you’ll be mad.
No isn’t a negative word, especially when your no allows you to say yes to something more important. There were many times Gary and I had to say no to friends, business appointments, and work calls so we could protect our family time. If somebody has your best interests at heart, they will understand that you can’t always say yes to their demands.
If you feel afraid to say no to somebody because they’ll be mad at you, that can be a good indication that it’s time to reevaluate and potentially end that relationship.
2. To be loved, I have to be who you want me to be.
This is a really good time to talk about why it’s so important to measure EVERYTHING against the Word of God. When you do a side-by-side comparison of different messages, it becomes very clear what is of God and what isn’t. Here’s an example:
A shark says: “There is something wrong with you. If you would just change, people would love you more.”
The Word of God says:
You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this. — Psalm 139:13-14 (GW)
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. — John 15:18-19 (NIV)
There will always be voices of criticism telling you that you are not good enough, but there is always one voice of eternal encouragement telling you, “You are loved, and you are my delight.”
Your success in life depends on which voice you let guide your choices.
3. If you would just change, everything would be great.
Often in relationships, people pleasers try to change other people to fit what they want them to be. In fact, some people spend years on wishful thinking instead of pursuing what they really deserve. We can’t control someone else’s actions or force them to change.
Stop waiting on someone else to be accountable for your happiness, and start asking yourself: What do I need to do to follow God’s path for my life?
4. I can’t leave you; no one else will want me.
No. No. NO.
This is exactly how the enemy gets you to settle. If you’re afraid to be yourself, you’ll spend your life trying to be someone else and become VERY unhappy in the process. You will surrender your dreams at the altar of fear. Let God’s genuine love cast out that fear; He is the only one who can make you whole.
You don’t live for identity; you live FROM identity. You are worthy.
5. I can’t ask for what I want, because that’s selfish.
You’re not a bad person for having needs! God created us with desires and dreams for our lives. People pleasing stops when you start honoring who you are and become unapologetic about what you need.
Philippians 4:19 (KJV) says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
6. I have to give up who I am so that we can be happy.
If you need to perform for someone’s love, it’s conditional, and that’s not real love. Go to God. Trust His will. His love is always unconditional.
7. If you’re upset, I must have done something wrong.
People pleasers often feel responsible for other people’s feelings and actions. They are all too eager to take on the blame to maintain the approval of someone else. This is dangerous, because sharks look for people like this—people who will assume accountability for their wrongdoing.
Be very cautious; difficult people will use this trait in good people to manipulate them.
Again, this comes back to how you see yourself as well as how you talk to yourself.
When you replace negative self-talk with godly encouragement, you will start to see yourself how Gods sees you.
I want to encourage you to keep swimming, and don’t give up on turning a people-pleasing mind-set around. God did it for me, and He can do it for you too! He wants you to be happy and to thrive in your purpose and passions, in spite of the sharks that are trying to intimidate you.
To learn more about how to successfully deal with difficult people, check out Drenda’s newest book, Shark Proof: How to Deal with Difficult People!
We learned this skill the long, hard way, but you don’t have to.
“I know that this book is going to unlock the incredible principles that changed my life. I can’t wait for you to read it!” – Drenda