4 Ways To Stop People Pleasing

Stop Pleasing People

Dear Selfless Esteem,
I’m tired of doing and saying whatever pleases people when sometimes I don’t want to, or I don’t really mean it. I’ve been this way all my life. How can I stop people pleasing?
Major People Pleaser

Dear Major People Pleaser,

Pleasing people is a good pursuit; it’s how people begin friendships, maintain employment, and attract customers. But it becomes a problem when it’s compulsive. I can empathize with how “tired” you are since you’ve been trying to please everyone all your life. So, let’s look into some causes and solutions. ✍(◔◡◔)

Causes of People Pleasing

The onset of people pleasing is typically during childhood. The behavior might have been learned from parental figures and/or strongly encouraged by them.

A common reason it becomes compulsive is the fear of rejection. (See the related post, “Yes You Can Stop Feeling Insecure! Here’s How.”) Some people would rather make sacrifices than risk conflict and separation from others. If this fear is related to past trauma, then see the post, “3 Essential Steps To Heal from Childhood Trauma.”

Those explanations may or may not resonate with you. Regardless, read on for some suggestions on how to stop pleasing people.

How To Stop People Pleasing

1. Get Help

I recommend finding a competent therapist, who can help you explore reasons why you developed this habitual way of interacting with people. Also, your therapist can help you with setting healthy boundaries, practicing assertiveness skills, and speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). (Please see the posts, “What Is Wise Counsel and Good Therapy?” and “Why You Need a Therapist ASAP.”)

Journaling thoughts and feelings

Between therapy sessions, journaling can be a helpful outlet for your thoughts and feelings. And be sure to take care of yourself since you’ve been attentive to other people’s needs so much. See the post, “6 Effective Ways To Manage Stress” for details.

2. Follow a Good Role Model

As mentioned, compulsive people pleasing might have been learned by observing parental figures; however, Jesus is the perfect role model. Sometimes, He didn’t please people because of a higher purpose.

For example, after Jesus was arrested, He was sent to Herod the tetrarch for interrogation. Herod was overjoyed when he saw Jesus because he was hoping He would perform a sign. Jesus could’ve easily done so, but He chose not to. He didn’t even answer Herod’s questions! The reaction from Herod and his soldiers was ridicule and mocking. (See Luke 23:6-11.)

How could Jesus have had such resolve? The answer is Proverbs 29:25, which states, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” Jesus trusted His Heavenly Father’s plan, which would lead to the higher purpose of saving the world (1 John 4:14).

3. Pray

There are so many people with so many needs; it’s impossible to help all of them. Ask God which ones you should focus on at this time and how much of your resources you should spend. For more details about prayer and God, see the posts, “How To Pray in 5 Simple Steps” and “The Real Truth About God.”

4. Meditate on God’s Word

God’s view of us is much more important than other people’s opinions. In His eyes, we are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). Biblical teacher, Clarence L. Haynes Jr., explains God’s approval well in his article on biblestudytools.com called “3 Truths to Know about the Righteousness of God.” The song, “You Are My King (Amazing Love)” written by Billy James Foote and sung by Newsboys, beautifully illustrates this point.

Meditate on the truth that you are accepted and loved by God. For more details about focusing on God’s love rather than other people’s opinions, see the post, “Why Selfless Esteem Is Better Than Self-Esteem.”

There are so many verses and stories in the Bible about God’s unconditional love: one for every moment and every season. At the time of writing this post, it’s Springtime with an increase in melodious birds, new blossoms, and warm sunshine. In this setting, meditate on the following passage as God speaks directly to you, His “fair one.”

My beloved spoke, and said to me:
“Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away.
For lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove
Is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth her green figs,
And the vines with the tender grapes
Give a good smell.
Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away!
                          Song of Solomon 2:10-13

In closing, I commend your gracious, giving heart; this is a characteristic of selfless esteem. Thus, I encourage you to continue serving others…within reasonable limits, which allow you to be true to yourself. (👍≖‿‿≖)👍 👍(≖‿‿≖👍)

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version®. Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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  1. TC

    Great advice, Gina-you are spot on! It seems as if most if not all of this type of behavior stems from childhood experiences (chiefly treatment from parents) and especially if you pair someone whom is a natural giver with learned people pleasing tendencies, that person could run themselves ragged. To reiterate one of my favorite quotes, “Givers have to set limits because Takers don’t have any.”

    1. Gina Leggio

      What a great quote! Thanks for sharing that.

  2. Magan

    I love this. Im such a people pleaser. Im going to try these things that you suggested.

    1. Gina Leggio

      Thanks so much for your comment. May God help us and guide us in all our challenges.

      1. Rosie

        Love this article! I’m a people-pleaser and I sometimes don’t like myself for it, so this would help me a lot. Would try these tips.

        1. Gina Leggio

          Thanks for your comment. I think everyone struggles with people-pleasing to some degree (some more than others), and it can easily become a problem. But with God, we always have hope 🙂

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