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How to Escape People-Pleaser Prison

Find the Keys

Having love, recognition, and approval from friends, family, co-workers, and peers is very important to me. If I don’t please others they may choose to reject, criticize, or abandon me – People-Pleaser.

If you fear rejection or disapproval – or you feel guilty for saying no – or feel a lack of recognition – or you fear blame or criticism – you are responding to an irrational core belief. When this happens you become stressed or tolerate these feelings as normal.

People-pleasers often hide behind a mask. They are afraid to say “no” for fear of rejection. They feel responsible for how others feel. They often apologize for things that are not their fault. They feel burdened and uncomfortable even unhappy with their tasks.

Goal: Self-love, self-appreciation, and self-dependence

Affirmation – Keys to Escape

  • I appreciate my talents and abilities.
  • I depend on myself for getting my needs met.
  • I can say ‘no’.
  • I don’t need everyone’s approval.
  • Psa. 27:1, “God is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?”

We all need love and acceptance. We are very complex beings with physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs that must be satisfied for a balanced life. When we experience a lack of love it affects our whole being. We as human beings need love above all  –  love of others and love of self.

The first key is to love yourself. When we are comfortable with who we are we’re able to express our inner God-given gifts and talents without fear of rejection, criticism, or abandonment. The more you develop your self-love the easier it will be to be yourself.

As others see the real you and appreciate the real you, more people will appreciate and love you. It’s a cycle of increasing love and true self-expression. When we don’t love ourselves and we deny who we really are the cycle works in reverse.

Grab the Keys

Every one of us is special and unique. God gave each one of us unique talents and a unique personality. God also designed each one of us with a purpose in mind. Do you know what your God-given purpose is?

Too many times we mask who we really are because we don’t think people will like us or we won’t be popular or be loved or whatever. As we take the mask off and allow ourselves to be who God created us to be we can begin to accept and love ourselves just the way we are.

Is pleasing others the real problem?

Many times people-pleasing is a symptom of a deeper issue, indicating a self-worth problem. Saying “yes” to everything is a desperate attempt to earn acceptance and approval.

People-pleasing can also be a sign of abuse or mistreatment. Somewhere along the way, the person decides that if they agree and do everything asked of them they will be treated better. Eventually, please pleasing becomes a habit, a way of life.

Up Close and Personal

After recovering from major surgery I started doing freelance work. I hadn’t been in the workforce for several years. My apprehension made me very uptight. Instead of speaking up and setting appropriate boundaries I fell into people-pleasing. I felt very unappreciated and criticized. I soon became very unhappy.

Why did I get upset when my work was not appreciated?

I became upset when my work was perfect yet not appreciated because I felt I deserved to be appreciated. I soon started missing deadlines intentionally.

One of my self-aware moments came when I realized I intentionally missed deadlines (passive-aggressive behavior) instead of just saying “no”. On my next job, I established clear boundaries about what needed to be done and the time needed to complete the job. When the employer argued, I stood my ground and my boundary held. I finished the job and felt good about it.

Turn the Key

It’s not always easy to break a habit and do something different, especially when this has been a pattern for several years or since childhood. You can change if you want to change.

Start with the affirmations. Say them over and over until you begin to get them firmly planted in your heart and mind. You will begin to feel more comfortable and confident.

Action Item

Take a small step. Voice your opinion about something you believe in, take a stand. Continue to say the affirmations as you create new behavior habits.


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