Confessions of a People Pleaser

Ya’ll I had a break through moment yesterday, and I wanted to share it with all of you in case it helps encourage someone else.

I want to talk for a minute about codependency.

Websters dictionary defines codependency as:

“A psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (such as an addiction to alcohol or heroin)
Or the broader definition dependence on the needs of or control by another”

Codependency.  A term not foreign to me.  It’s something that I have had to process with some relationships with others in my past, and acknowledging that their behavior was codependent.  Recognizing this was HUGE for me.  It allowed me to start to set proper boundaries in these relationships so that I didn’t lose myself within them.

When I first started recognizing this I thought codependency was just people being manipulative and controlling, but lately I have been really struggling with somethings in my life.  Some situations where it actually becomes so consuming and debilitating to me if  things aren’t fixed in a way that meets other peoples expectations and that they ultimately end up happy.  Newsflash….not all things in life will make everyone happy.

As I dug deeper I started to realize that codependency is multifaceted.  There is another side….the people pleasing side.  Where we ourselves cannot be happy if others aren’t happy.

Without realizing it, I’ve been carrying around a weight of feeling like I’m solely responsible for some people’s happiness. Not all, just some.

Without realizing it my self worth has become dependent on some people being happy with me or with my performance instead of just being  rooted and content in a solid foundation of who God created me to be.

I say “yes” when I really mean “no.”  I’ve gotten so much better at this over the years, but I still struggle.  In fear of disappointing or hurting someone I will sometimes say yes, when really I want to say no, or I am afraid confrontation so I back down.

When I spent some time in self reflection to try to figure out the source of when this all started it was definitely in childhood.  How do you undo close to 35 years of people pleasing behaviors?  It seems impossible, but yet God says “nothing is impossible with Him.”

I can name off pivotal moments in my childhood that defined steps taking in this direction of people pleasing codependency.

My struggle with weight and self image issues…

-A classmate saying something about how “old fashioned my clothes were”

-Having a boy give me the nickname of “Heifer” in junior high.  Do you know what a heifer is?  A heifer is a young female cow who has not had a calf yet.  A cow guys…..he called me a cow, and the name stuck….for several years.  It came about because of a missions project we were working on at church called Heifer International and somehow out of that I received the nickname of Heifer.  I was a little overweight for sure at that point in my life, but definitely not obese, but alas kids can be cruel and I became the target. I remember we went to the park one day for Sunday School and I happened to sit on a swing that was half broken without me knowing, and I ended up breaking it entirely….you can bet the nickname Heifer at least in my mind took on deeply rooted value inside me that day.   I actually later became friends with some of the guys from my sunday school class, even went to high school dances with a few of them so eventually it became ok, but the lie was still rooted there, inside of me.

One of the saddest parts of this story to me is that it happened at church.  Church should be a safe place, but I know I’m not the only one who has been hurt in a church.  That’s not the only time I’ve experienced hurt from people in church either.  It’s helped as I’ve grown and matured to remember that only Jesus is perfect.  Church is made up of a bunch of imperfect people.

I also somewhere along the line started behaving in a very legalistic way.  I received praise when I performed a certain way or did what I was told so my behavior became very fear and performance based in order to hear the praise and affection of others.

But here is the thing….I must not forget that I get to choose my path of whether I will stay enslaved to those lies or move forward in freedom.  I get to choose the direction of which I will go after hearing or experiencing things like this.  As a child…I had no idea.  I was just surviving.  It’s ok to claim those moments for what they were.  It’s ok to give them a name, and acknowledge how hard and awful those things were, but I don’t have to remain a victim.  Those moments don’t get to take away my own power and authority over my life.  I serve a greater God who is bigger than all of those things, who can absolutely heal, and bring new life from brokenness.

I often times lack brave.

I lack confidence.

I fear deeply what others will think of me or if I will be good enough for them

But the truth is God has made me capable.  He has made me strong.  He has made me beautiful.  He has given me freedom to not have to live in constant fear, guilt, or shame anymore.

Realizing all of this was a huge moment for me yesterday.  I researched a bunch of books, and made a trip to the library today, and to my own library (ahem books of unpacked boxes still 3 years later 🙂  of several titles I read years ago that I knew might help me start to process and break free from the people pleasing codependency issues I have struggled with my whole life.

There maybe some therapy that’s necessary.

I’ve already cried a lot of tears, and I’m sure more are to come.

But for now I start here….with a stack of books, support and encouragement from my closest people, and I let God start to chisel away at these parts of me that I so desperately want to be healed from.


One of the most eye opening parts for me was realizing how hard it is for me to really grasp, and actually belief the depth of Christ’s love for me.  Even now as I type these words I am tearing up knowing how easy it is for me to be the first to jump in and encourage another with scripture and truth of God’s love for another struggling person, but when it’s me….my head knows it but my heart struggles to actually believe it.

Part of this journey will be me working on just that….replacing the lies with God’s truth of how much I really mean to Him and the depth of His love for me.

It’s not going to be an easy journey, but it IS a necessary one.  If you are reading this for the first time, and realizing that you too struggle with the same…feel free to send me a msg or comment!  I’m cheering you on too friend!  We are in this together!  Or maybe you have had your own journey of healing from the struggle of people pleasing-  I would love to hear your tips, or book recommendations of things that have helped you so please share!




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