My Life as a People-Pleaser

My Life As A People-Pleaser

Do you know what it feels like to completely and utterly hate yourself?

Have you ever loathed yourself so much that you could not even look at your face in the mirror? Maybe you had those moments of feeling like you were not valued or had no worth? As a child did you feel unloved and unwanted?

This was once my reality.

I Was a People-Pleaser

My entire life I have known that no matter how much I cared about someone, I was not as important to them as they were to me. The sting of real or perceived rejection could completely paralyze me to the point that I could not breathe. Sometimes this sting would put me in bed for days.

She was a people-pleaser… unloved, unwanted, and unworthy… Share on X

I never had problems with making new relationships, personal or professional, until a person got to know the real me. The needy me.

The needy little girl inside of me lived for the high of a smile, a hug, a kind word, or the holy grail of all things; praise from someone, anyone. I went from person to person in my life begging for connection, attention, and admiration.

I longed to feel valued.

This extreme need in me to be constantly validated would put people off from me. The more that happened the needier I would become. I was the ultimate people-pleaser.

The People-Pleasing Catch 22

Do you know a people-pleaser?

Are they not the kindest sweetest person you ever met when you meet them? Then after a while of getting to know them they begin to wear you down. Why is that? How did that person who you know to be the nicest person become the person who annoys you the most?

Maybe you are the people-pleaser.

Do you wonder why?

Why is it that you feel the need to make yourself matter greatly to everyone in your life? Why do you need to be the center of attention? What is it about that constant and driving need for praise and adoration so important to you?

God's grace for people-pleasers

God’s Grace In My Life

This cyclic pattern of failed relationships followed me everywhere I went. It affected my ability to do my job well and maintain life-long relationships. By the grace of God my marriage has lasted for over thirty years and my beleaguered husband and I are still together. He understands me and feels my pain. He knows my struggles with the feeling that I will never be enough. 

There are as many reasons for this emotional unbalance in me as are there are fish in the sea. I could blame my upbringing, and yes there could be a good argument for that in my case. In a nutshell my childhood was rough. I am sure there are many out there who can relate to that. But I am not writing to share my tragic childhood. I want to share what I have learned about myself and how the Lord is healing me from this affliction.

I am sure you get the picture by now. You’ve got it in your mind who the people-pleasers in your life are or it’s beginning to dawn on you that you are a people-pleaser. Let’s think about what is missing in your life that you are continuously knocking yourself out swimming oceans for people who wouldn’t cross a puddle for you.

My Story

The lightning moment that struck me and made me realize that I was a people-pleaser came to me during prayer. I labored in the Spirit following a perceived rejection I received from a person in my church. This person was someone I looked to for spiritual guidance and I desperately wanted to please this person and make them my best friend. I wanted this person to make everything right for me. I needed them to fix my life and give me the validation I craved.

That’s one tall order for just one person who barely knew me.

Have you chased after that person that you just knew would be the person who made you feel better about yourself? Anyhow, I was begging the Lord to show me what was wrong with me. Why was it that I kept sending people running for the hills every time I came around?

The Bottom Line Was That I Was Selfish

I had to face some awful truths about myself as the Lord started me on a journey towards healing. First, I had to accept the fact that while I thought I was the nicest, kindest person I believed I could be, I was actually being selfish.

The truth was, her people-pleasing nature was based on selfish desires… Share on X

I wanted to please others so that they would tell me how wonderful I was because I didn’t believe I was worthy. That clearly shows that I was being friendly and kind with an ulterior motive. My hidden agenda meant I was not genuinely caring about the other person’s needs only my own.

You may see where I am going with this, but I really need to say it.

I was running from person to person trying to fill the hole in my heart and soul. The problem was no matter how many “people” told me how great I was, it was never enough to take away the pain from years and years of the neglect and abuse I suffered with for most of my life.

Soul Care

I’ll be honest, when the Lord showed me this ugly truth about myself it hurt. I tried to shake it off as I reeled from the guilt and shame of it. I started to wallow in that muck.

But our God is so good to us. He did not let me wallow. He sent me some help, a Christian therapist, who worked with me through a program she called Soul Care.

The Soul Care process taught me how to work with the Holy Spirit to cleanse and heal those wounds in my soul that left me, well, wounded. This is a process that did not fix me overnight. But it was the start of healing in all areas of my life. It is a process I am still going through and it gets easier with time as the Lord works to restore me.

Of the many life lessons I learned through Soul Care the most important lesson I learned that changed my life was how much Jesus loves me. You know we sing that song Jesus Loves Me. That song carries a message that should completely overwhelm a person to their core.

But For The Grace of God

When I truly got it into my deep inner spirit that Jesus loved me so much that He died for me it brought me face to face with my God. The love He lavished on me sent me to my knees. This scripture came to me.

“Then Jesus told them this parable: “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders…” ~Luke 15:3-5, NIV

This parable from Christ showed me that when I am lost He loves me so much that there is nothing that will stand in His way to come for me and that He rejoices when I am found. What a revelation. I am adored by my Jesus.

Because of Jesus

I had to lay down at His feet all the guilt, shame, and low self-esteem issues that were keeping me from a solid relationship with Christ. This was a lot harder than it sounds. Many times I would take back all those hurt feelings and of course the enemy would pressure me and make me think all those negative thoughts again. My faith in my God finally won out over time.

3 Scriptures for people-pleasers #lampandlight

I can now say with confidence “I know who I am in Christ.” I am loved. I am wanted. I am worth it to Him.

One thing that helped me to realize the true love of my God is to learn to see myself as He sees me. Through Soul Care I was led to an image that changed my perception of myself. It was a deeply personal experience for the Lord to show me this image and there are personal touches in the image that only the Lord knew about me when the image was given to me.

This brought home to me that the Lord will always see me as His beautiful daughter. He would leave the other sheep behind and come find me if I strayed. I am that important to my Father.

3 Scriptures For People-Pleasers

This is what the Word says about how the Lord sees His children.

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty.” ~ 2 Corinthians 6:17-18, NIV

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” ~ 1 John 3:1, NIV

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” ~ Romans 8:17, NIV

Really take a moment and let it sink in. What did our Jesus go through to save you? Make it personal because it is about you, personally. You are so precious to Jesus that He suffered and died for your sins that you might live and not die. And if your God loves you enough to chase you down and fight for you then die for you how important are you?

Uprooting Hidden Feelings

To believe you are unloved, unwanted, and unworthy is to deny that your God loves you and places value on you. Your God says to you that you are loved. Your God says that you are wanted. Your God says you are worth it to Him. You will never find that thing you need to fill that hole in your heart and soul until you accept Him fully. He is the One who breaks the affliction of being a “people-pleaser.”

I can now stand up and say my purpose is to serve the Lord and to be pleasing in His eyes, not to worry about how I am seen by others. My value comes from my identity in Christ.

Once I received that deep and abiding love, I have been freely given from my God, that needy little girl in me grew up and moved on. Sometimes I still have those little stings of rejection, but I have a Father I can go to who comforts me, takes all that pain away, and tells me how much I am loved.

2 Battle Tactics for Fighting Insecurity

Two things help me in this battle daily. One, I listen to the words of the song Reckless Love by Cory Asbury. This song truly speaks to my soul. His love for us knows no bounds. He loves us with complete abandon. Two, I praise Him for his love by speaking this scripture out loud.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalms 139:14, ESV) If you are feeling unloved, unwanted, or unworthy my hope for you is that you would learn to see yourself as the Lord sees you. Stop looking to others to validate you and fix you. Bring all that pain to Jesus. He is the One who loves you more than any one person can. You are precious to Him and you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

About the Author

Jen Gentry

Jen Gentry is a bestselling Christian writer of fiction and non-fiction works. She writes to entertain and inspire as well as to bring glory to her own personal savior, Jesus Christ. She is a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and a Registered Nurse. Her life journey has not been an easy one. She knows what it means to walk through the fires of faith, as she knows the pain and the joys of life.

Jen has a strange fascination with hummingbirds as one has always showed up in times of difficulty in her life, either a real one or an image of one. She loves things like old tea-pots and mopar-muscle cars from the seventies. She thinks of herself as kind of a redneck chick / southern belle, as she loves to dress up fancy, but spends most of her time in jersey tee-shirts and jeans, with her hair up in a ponytail. When she is not writing or spending time with her family, you can find her with her nose stuck in a book.

2 Battle tactics for fighting insecurity… Share on X

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  1. Great post! I really connect with Cory’s song, also. It is so important to remember and reflect on God’s love for us. For me, it helps me remember that I am blessed even when things aren’t going my way. I’m blessed even when circumstances are not the best simply because the God of the universe, my creator, loves me. Pursues me. Will not let me go.

  2. I appreciate your honesty in sharing your struggle. It’s refreshing when we can be open about our challenges then we can learn from each others. We all have something. No one is immune and Jesus will use it to draw us close to him if we let him.

  3. That cycle of people pleasing is alive and well in me. I see it in the hurt that they didn’t mean to cause. My husband calls it out as I work too hard to finish things on time that no one will care about. Seeking approval from others when I need to draw near to God, remember Whose I am and live this life for Him alone. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement that we are not alone in the struggle.

  4. I relate to this post in many ways. For years I struggled with being a people pleaser because of a broken past. It is because of His grace and finding my identity in Christ I came to terms with the fact that the only one I have to please is the Father. It is hard growing up when you are looking for acceptance and wanting to belong and not realizing that God has already accepted you. God trades ashes for beauty and I am grateful. I always tell people no matter your story, God will use it for His glory. I’m thankful for your story!

  5. Thank you for sharing your story and how God helped you overcome your people pleasing past. I, too, love hummingbirds and I eagerly await each spring when they migrate through my neck of the woods and my feeders fill with hundreds of them. I’ve turned my back porch into a hummingbird ‘studio’ and spend many a happy hour marveling at their beauty and personalities.

  6. I used to be a people-pleaser, too. I hated the thought of anyone being mad at me. The root of that is from my family history – always walking on eggshells. Thankfully, Jesus has freed me from that unhealthy relationship pattern! Thank you for sharing on Grace & Truth.

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