I have a problem I’ll reluctantly reveal to you. My secret is an ugly one. It’s also one many other people have.
My name is Joseph and I like to please people.
On the surface, people pleasing seems like a great thing. We’re able to make people happy. We’re able to help people get work done. We may even be able to make someone else’s life easier.
Those are all great things.
However, we have to be careful. People pleasing can go too far.
When People Pleasing Makes A Monster
I’ve been in situations where I’ve become a monster because of trying to please other people.
My attitude changed. I became cranky. I snapped at others. I had thoughts that I was a failure.
All the while people were being helped. Students in the youth group were being fed. Church congregants were being greeted and made to feel welcome. Work was being done.
But I feel it was all in vain.
I wasn’t doing these things because I wanted to help people. I wanted to do these things because I wanted to please people. I wanted to be recognized for ALL THE GOOD WORKS that I was doing.
This desire put undue stress on my life. The pressure to please others was crushing.
I was breaking. And I didn’t even know it.
Why People People Please
Harriet Braiker, a psychologist, calls this “the disease to please.” Our desire to please, and be recognized for pleasing others, satisfies us. We even become addicted to people pleasing.
There’s a multitude of reasons on why we work so hard to please others.
You don’t want to disappoint others
You want to make others happy
You don’t want to get angry
You’re scared to voice your opinion
You’re concerned about what others think of you
You want others to like you
You fear disagreement
What do most of these reasons have in common? The common trait I see is we people please because we are concerned of what others will think about us. This is dangerous stuff!
Even the Bible warns us of being concerned about what others think of us. In Proverbs 29:25 (GNT) the Bible tells us:
Let me reiterate that, BE CAREFUL OF BEING CONCERNED WITH WHAT OTHERS THINK OF YOU.
This concern is a snare. We fall into it. It changes us.
How To Stop The People Pleasing Monster
There’s good news in all of this. We can stop the people pleasing monster.
Doing so takes hard work and diligence. Overcoming people pleasing takes courage. It will challenge you beyond what you think is possible.
But I know you’ve got what it takes.
To stop people pleasing, try these strategies:
Learn to say NO: The biggest reason people try to please others even when it is detrimental to themselves is because they want to make others happy. So we say yes. And yes. And yes again.
We take on project after project. Or maybe it’s new responsibility after new responsibility at church. Whatever it is, we don’t say no.
Saying no is a good thing. When you say no, you give another person the opportunity to step into a role they need to fill. You also free yourself up and take one step away from being a people pleaser.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable: As you take the steps to ending your days as a people pleaser, you’re going to make people upset. This, in turn, can make you uncomfortable.
Get used to that uncomfortable feeling. You’ll continue to feel it as you stop jumping in to rescue everyone.
Then, one day, the uncomfortable feeling will go away. You will have reprogrammed your mind and given yourself permission to pick and chose what tasks are right for you.
Realize someone will be upset: Whether you choose to take on another responsibility at work, in the church, or in a non-profit, you’re choosing one priority over another. Someone is going to lose out on you and your time.
Choosing to stay late at work may make your wife and children upset. They want to see their father but you’re working late hours once again. Or by volunteering at the Salvation Army, you may make someone upset who believes the work they’re doing isn’t good enough.
Our choices to serve and help or not will impact others. Someone will be upset in the end that they don’t have your time.
Check your motives: If you’re like me, you want your motives for doing something to be pure. You don’t want to do it out of obligation or fear or some other negative emotion.
You want to serve others because it’s who you are. You are a person who is committed to helping others.
By looking at your motives, you can choose whether or not to take the next assignment. See why you’re desiring to say yes.
If it’s for the wrong reason, man up and say no.
Saying no will make you uncomfortable. Learn to be comfortable with this feeling.
You’ll be uncomfortable because someone may be offended. That’s okay. You can’t please everyone.
This is how you will overcome the bad drive to please everyone. By checking your motives at the door.
When People Pleasing Is Okay
Don’t get me wrong. Trying to please others isn’t inherently wrong. It’s only wrong when we let the desire to people please overwhelm our lives.
I believe there are situations when we must and should try our best to make others happy.
We should desire to please our spouse
We should try to please our boss
We should try to please those we care about
We should try to please those we serve
But only to an extent that is healthy. Learn your boundaries and stick to them.
This will kill the People Pleasing Monster