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3 Ways I Fight People-Pleasing

two women having a conversation over coffee, one is a people-pleaser.
For years, I obsessively avoided conflict and worked overtime to cater to the needs of others, whatever the cost.

I dropped onto the couch across from my mom, smoothie in hand. She listened intently as I explained my situation. I braced myself for what was coming next; I already knew the advice I would receive.

“I think you should be honest with her and confront her about how she made you feel,” my mom said matter-of-factly.

I grimaced. Confront? No way. Confrontation meant rocking the boat, and rocking the boat meant creating conflict. Count me out. I loved and respected my mom but couldn’t bring myself to put her advice into action.

I have always valued relationships. After becoming a Christian at a young age, my love for relationships and people increased exponentially with the love I found in the Lord. I was highly sensitive to the feelings of those around me, and I enjoyed being a helper to my peers. I also hated any type of conflict and shied away from fighting at all costs. Add to all these traits an extroverted personality and a general inability to set boundaries, and I was the profile of a textbook people-pleaser.

As I got older, this became a real issue for me. For years, I obsessively avoided conflict and worked overtime to cater to the needs of others, whatever the cost. This left me feeling burnt out, depleted, anxious and overwhelmed. If you can relate, you too probably struggle with people-pleasing.

Psych Central, a website dedicated to mental health and well-being, reports that “becoming a people-pleaser sets us on a path of becoming alienated from our innate, true self.” Scripture supports this by cautioning us against putting others in a place of supremacy over God and His will, and by reminding us that our worth is in who Christ says we are — not in the approval of others.

When we people-please, it creates a tunnel vision that makes us hypersensitive to what others think of us. We lose sight of finding complete satisfaction in the Lord and His will, which leaves our hearts as restless as ever.

So how do we stop the cycle and get out of this rut?

1. Practice truth-telling

Instead of blurting out what someone wants to hear, pause and ask yourself what the truth is, and then say it — or say nothing at all. Honoring God with our words and deeds is more important than being popular or agreeable.

Proverbs 29:25 states, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” And Proverbs 9:10 reminds us that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

2. Care about what God cares about

It’s easy to seek fulfillment in earthly relationships, and even obsess over them. We become trapped over-analyzing and practically pull our hair out replaying interactions we’ve had. Instead, God calls us to “take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5) and shift our focus to our relationship with our Heavenly Father instead.

Matthew 6:19-21 warns us,

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be as well.”

When I recenter my thoughts on the Lord and understanding His heart before anyone else’s, I feel peace and clarity in the choices before me.

3. Know who you are

No thing or person in this world defines your worth. While God has gifted us with community and friendship shared between believers glorifies Him, He also calls us to not care about the opinions or feelings of any person more than we care about His. Make the switch from letting the opinions of people be what build you up or tear you down, and instead look to God’s Word to confirm who He says you are.

God calls us His children, made in His image. Psalm 138:13-14 says,

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

When we actively realign our hearts by telling the truth, following God’s will, and letting Him define us, the pressure and anxiety of pleasing people starts to fade. It’s a journey, but as I walk it with its ups and down, I’m seeing progress and am finding God faithful.

Copyright 2024 Quinn Delamater. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Quinn Delamater
Quinn Delamater

Quinn Delamater is the 2024 Boundless intern. A Midwest girl through and through, Quinn is from the town of Hudson, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland), and attends Hillsdale College in southern Michigan. At Hillsdale, Quinn is a rising junior majoring in Rhetoric & Media with a minor in Journalism. In college, Quinn is also involved in her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, where she serves as the Events Director, as well as a writer for the school newspaper and the marketing department. Quinn enjoys being on the go and is passionate about traveling, worship music, finding good coffee shops, and skiing.

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