“People Pleasing” Behavior, Part 2

Foto Removing the mask. Fotografia tirada por Luciano Moreira inserida na categoria arte-digital
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Those of us who are “people pleasers” as the result of childhood abuse and/or domestic violence have our reasons.  Deprived of affection, we long for acceptance.  Often cruelly punished when we did not conform to the expectations of others, we fear rejection.

Saying “no” to a request is difficult for us.  Putting boundaries in place, since it was never allowed, feels foreign and selfish.  We may even have been taught that it was “unchristian”.

Unfortunately, “people pleasing” behavior is not productive in the long run.  It is likely to leave us overworked and overwhelmed – often angry with ourselves for having failed to speak out.  Over time, we can lose sight of who we really are.

Inauthenticity drains the joy from living.  How then do we change this behavior?

Removing the Mask

Slowly, we must begin to reveal our true feelings, to remove the mask hiding our genuine selves.  This will not be an easy process.  It may result in some rejection by others.  But rejection is no longer as dangerous as it once was for us.  We can now stand on our own two feet.

Setting Boundaries

Gradually, we must learn to set healthy boundaries.  This is a matter of self-protection.

Anger and Conflict

Ultimately, we must learn to deal with anger and conflict.  This will take courage.  As children, our very lives may have depended on avoiding (or placating) the anger of the adults around us.  But we are no longer children.

God’s Approval v. Man’s Approval

The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe” (Prov. 29: 25).

The risk in trying to please man is that we may not be pleasing God (Gal. 1: 10).  It is, after all, God who sees our hearts (1 Thess. 2: 4).

Part 1 in this series was posted last week.



Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

13 responses to ““People Pleasing” Behavior, Part 2

  1. Thanks for sharing this. It is both empathic and practical. Have a beautiful day 🙂

  2. Gratefulness is a key to giving.

    • I agree. “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Cor. 9: 11 NLV). I am not entirely clear how you meant this principle to apply here. While God desires us to be generous, He did not design us to be abused. It is not unChristian to set healthy boundaries. As human beings, we have limitations. We need food; we need rest. Even Christ would separate Himself from the crowds and their demands on Him, in order to spend time w/ the Father.

  3. Yes, people pleasing goes beyond the simple kindness. Once people recognise your people pleasing tendencies, it’s not at all good.

  4. Anna, you have described me perfectly..
    I struggle to please man, and avoid any conflict..
    I often try to fix problems that are beyond my ability..
    Perhaps more time in prayer asking God to repair this trait would help.
    You used great Scriptures for reference, thank you 🙂

  5. Allan Halton

    Anna, you said, “The risk in trying to please man is that we may not be pleasing God (Gal. 1: 10). It is, after all, God who sees our hearts (1 Thess. 2: 4)”.
    This hits the nail on the head. I was reminded of this verse in Proverbs:
    The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe” (Pro 29:25).
    Seeking to please others– not because we really want to please them but because we are fearful of displeasing them– this is a great snare. The remedy is to put our trust in God, and in so doing set our hearts to please HIM. This will take courage, but, according to that verse, this is where our safety lies, not in being a people pleaser. Trying to keep that sense of safety by being a people pleaser, that is , by “fearing” man, is to find ourselves snared, caught, trapped. Let us seek God’s way of release from it. He is there for us!  

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