10 Ways to Break Free from People-Pleasing
I stumbled upon this quote today and my wheels started turning. For years, I was mentally and emotionally obese with the thousand-ton weight of other people’s opinions and expectations of me. I struggled with people-pleasing and worried too much about meeting others’ approval. Lies and worldly expectations kept me from hearing God’s truth for my life and my future. Society quickly became my label maker, and I began spiraling into hopelessness and inadequacy.
Then one day, with God’s intervention and the constant prayers and encouragement of my husband, I decided I’d had enough. I spent hours praying and crying out loud to God. I sought wisdom, strength, and comfort in His inspired Word. Little by little, just like an onion, God peeled away at the bruised layers of my soul. He reminded me that my worth is not defined by the world around me, but by the price He paid for me on the cross.
No longer suffocated by worldly pressures, selfish expectations and life-sucking comparisons, I forged ahead and began a new life chapter. This time, God was writing my story. With the weight of other’s opinions now off my shoulders, I was able to breathe the crisp, fresh air of contentment and peace.
Here are a few things I learned along the way:
1. Opinions are not decisions.
It’s easy to be influenced by others’ personal biases without keeping God’s will in mind. Are you wondering what you should do about a certain situation? Are you troubled by a decision you need to make? Turn to God’s Word for guidance and direction. There is no question so big the Bible cannot answer it.
2. You are not responsible for other people’s opinions of you.
People view others through lenses that are shaped by their unique life experiences — good or bad. Their perception of you may or may not be accurate, but it is NOT your responsibility to fix or correct everything.
3. Don’t make idols out of man’s approval.
Pleasing others is a time-sucking, joy-stealing, life-wasting feat. Save yourself the heartache. Live your life in a way that is pleasing to God. His approval — His blessing — matters most.
4. Cultural norms and expectations don’t define success.
When choosing a career path or making important life decisions, look up! Avoid looking around you to see what others are doing. Why be miserable keeping up with the Joneses when you can be joyful living in God’s perfect plan for YOUR life!? One size does not fit all. This is especially true with jobs, lifestyle, home location, accomplishments, degrees, annual income, and relationships.
5. Beware of people who are quick to say, “I think you should...” without offering to pray for or with you.
People who value or prioritize opinions more than divine guidance cause us to make decisions we regret later on. Ask God for discernment. He will help you declutter other's opinions.
6. Surround yourself with people who speak God’s truth into your life.
Be mindful of your close relationships and how they influence you. Ask God to provide you with friends who will keep you accountable when you start to doubt God’s guidance.
7. Trust God’s still, small voice over the loudest lies.
It is often easier and more convenient to believe sweet lies than to hear the bitter truth. Don’t fall for this trap. Commune with God first thing every morning. Saturate your mind with the beauty of God’s Word. Drown out the noise by reciting Scripture and claiming God’s promises.
8. Eliminate anything that keeps you from living and thriving in God’s plans for you.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do the entertainment and activities in my life encourage a deeper and more meaningful connection with God?
Is my involvement with social media and modern culture altering my perception of reality, causing God’s truths to seem dull in comparison?
Does my home environment cause spiritual despondency? Or does it encourage me to live each day with an attitude of gratitude and praise?
9. Make prayer your first line of defense.
Talk to God about your troubles before talking about it with a friend. You’ll save yourself the trouble of being confused and pulled in so many directions. Prayer reminds you not to trust your heart, which is “deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9).
10. Trust God to guide you through the unknown.
The Creator who formed you in your mother’s womb and knows every hair on your head is most acquainted with your every weakness. He is the most qualified to guide you through your broken, windy or unpaved path.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
— Romans 12:2
Friend, what God has in store for you is far greater than what the world expects of you. Give yourself the gift of experiencing true joy in God’s perfect plan. It is time you let go of other’s opinions and take hold of God’s promises for you. God loves you! You deserve to be set free in His truth for your life.