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Are You A People Pleaser?

It is blog post #2 of the Shauna Niequist chronicles based on the insightful, life-changing concepts from Present Over Perfect.

Today’s tough topic is (drum roll please)...People pleasing.

Gulp. Oh dear. These words have been far too true in my life.

The focus on people-pleasing in Shauna’s book rocked me to my core. I am a middle child who loves peace and making people happy. Again, neither of these traits are wrong but the desire to please people can literally suffocate you. Trust me, I have first-hand experience with this.

From taking dreaded lifeguarding classes so I could be with my best friend to taking a less-than-loved lifeguarding job. From over volunteering to overbooking my time with people who are wonderful but who I didn’t have the necessary time to invest in. From begrudgingly saying yes to being a Sunday school leader to even eating a restaurant salad, that I detested, without saying anything because I didn’t want to bother the server (ok, maybe this has happened twice…). These are just some of the few examples where people-pleasing has come first in my life.  

How wrong does that sound? People pleasing, this petty, addictive habit should not be my first priority.

The crazy thing is is that none of the above things I did are bad! They’re all pretty great if you think about it. But where was my heart when I said yes and what was the result of my action?

Every time I start feeling burnt out I realize that I’ve been spending too much of myself trying to please others by attempting to do all of the things, instead of merely resting in who I am.

“And I’m finding that one of the greatest delights in life is walking away from what someone told you you should be in favor of walking toward what you truly love, in your own heart, in your own secret soul.” Shauna Niequist

The number of times in my life I have done things, not because I genuinely wanted to, but because I didn’t want to disappoint someone, is far too many. I’m still not great at this but I am slowly learning that when I say yes to the things I believe in I’m able to give my best self, versus the times I say yes to something, and only give half of myself, because my heart isn’t truly in it.

Here’s a short quiz to see if you, in fact, are a people pleaser.

People Pleaser Quiz

When someone asks you to do something do you think:

  1. Do I want to do this?

  2. Will I let them down if I don’t do this?

Why do you work at your specific job?

  1. I love it!

  2. My company/coworkers really depend on me and I would hurt them if I quit

Do you ever take sick days?

  1. When I’m feeling physically or emotionally unwell I take days off to rest and recover

  2. Rarely! I would let so many people down by not being there. Or they might get angry at me

When you give an answer do you ever change your mind afterward?

  1. Rarely

  2. Almost always

Do you find it difficult to deal with personal conflict?

  1. It’s not my favourite but I would rather resolve issues with people I really care about

  2. It’s the worst! I often remain silent so that I won’t hurt anyone’s feelings


If you answered mostly #2 then you are in the camp of being a people pleaser.

Welcome to the club! It’s a journey to overcome but it is totally and completely worth it. 

Essential Questions:

Who do you want to be? What do you want to be remembered as? If someone thinks less of you because you didn’t appease them does it really matter? Are they someone whose approval you genuinely need?

Take Action:

If you struggle with people pleasing then allow yourself to have a deep look at your life and how it is affecting you. 

Make choices today that will please your future self and make you proud of who you are.

Make choices that benefit the people you love the most instead of trying to make everyone happy.

“What people think about you means nothing in comparison to what you believe about yourself” (63). Shauna Niequist

I’m slowly learning how to reschedule dates with friends when I’m feeling overbusy, overstressed, or just exhausted. I’m learning to reevaluate my priorities and try to make plans according to who matters the most to me. I’m trying to put my husband, my family, and my dearest friendships first. I’m trying to give myself grace as I learn to live a less hectic, busy life. I’m learning how to rest; how to let go of things; how to breathe.

Maybe you needed this message today. I know I need it all of the time. Remember, we all overdo people-pleasing now and again but give yourself grace and patience as you grow into the best person you can be. No one will ever be able to please everyone so give yourself a break and rest knowing that it’s not about what you can do. Rather, it’s all about who you are. 


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