People Pleasing Recovery 101

People Pleasing Recovery 101

By Drenda Keesee

Are you a people pleaser?

…Does telling people no make you feel guilty? 

…Do you feel paralyzed by a fear of rejection, judgment, or trying to keep people 

   from being upset with you?

…Are you burned out in business and tempted to give up, all because of people?

…Do you feel bad for having nice things?

…Do you love to help others but find it hard to accept help yourself? 

…Have you felt used, intimidated, or criticized by people?

Now, you might be thinking, How do you know so much about my life?

To be honest…



I was just describing what my life looked like for over 30 years!



I hated making people unhappy!

If somebody was upset with me, my whole life came to a screeching halt. I was a serial people pleaser. I spent so much time trying to make everyone happy, but in the end, those people left my life without a second thought! No matter how much I did, it never seemed to be enough for them.

“The only thing wrong with trying to please everyone is that there’s always at least one person who will remain unhappy—you.” —Elizabeth Parker

I felt heartbroken, confused, and even depressed at times…

I’ll never forget the day Gary came to me with tears in his eyes. I wrote my resignation letter today,” he said, trying to fight back the crushing disappointment in his voice.

Where did we go wrong? We used to wake up every day so excited to build the vision God gave us. Now, we were tired, frustrated, and burned out. Honestly, we felt like failures; if we were better leaders, people wouldn’t turn against us, right? 

I thought we were the only ones dealing with these situations, but as we continued in ministry, I found out that we weren’t. Far from it!



Have you ever met a difficult person? 

Somebody who was hard to please, critical, controlling, negative, or even rude? Did a few people come to mind as soon as you read that?

Some people treat us this way naively as they are simply motivated by feelings of jealousy, control, insecurity, or anger. Others do it compulsively. I call those people sharks! We can all be sharks or demonstrate sharklike qualities from time to time, but these people do this so consistently, so maliciously, that this isn’t an accident on their part—it’s a habit.

When we meet sharks (note: they generally don’t look like sharks), we often try to jump through hoops to keep them happy. Been there, got the shirt, went back and got 5,000 more.

But that’s where this story gets good! Through years of doing the WRONG things and living as a tired, unhappy people pleaser, I discovered how to break free. I learned the powerful principles that allowed me to start successfully dealing with difficult people without losing my peace!

I was finally able to break free from the bondage of being a people pleaser!

And if I did it, you can too!



I remember a time when I experienced dread every time I had to speak or step out in my calling. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right! And the reason why? I dreaded hearing the opinion of a specific woman who always gave me her two cents’ worth on how I did. We were “friends,” so I thought she had my best interests at heart.


I remember talking to Gary one day and saying, “They’re going to think….”

My husband kindly interrupted. “Honey, who’s they?” I finally took a step back and realized this friend’s criticism was a huge source of anxiety in my life!

People have a LOT of opinions. The good, the bad, and the ugly…

They’ll tell you how to dress, style your hair, nurse your children, what to say, how to discipline, and even how you should feel about certain situations…

IF you let them.

When dealing with people, you have to remember…

You can’t make everyone happy, and that’s okay. God never asked you to! 


Romans 12:18 (NIV) says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” 

Pay special attention to the middle of that Scripture: “As far as it depends on you.” Peace in every relationship is not always within your power!

You’re on a mission, and you CAN’T compromise your destiny to please people.

How someone reacts when your obedience to God interferes with what THEY want from you isn’t a sign of your failure or unworthiness. It’s simply an indicator of an immaturity in them.

Satan loves to bait us with these situations—in fact, he tries to convince us that we are doing the GODLY thing by living as a people pleaser. You have to stay obedient to the will of God anyway!

Give people grace, patience, and love, but don’t take false responsibility for other people’s offenses.



I want to encourage you to stop looking to the world for external validation because it will never be enough!

When we look to imperfect humans to validate us, we will always come up short. We are trying to have people validate us who need validation themselves! They are also looking for a source of confidence and reassurance in who they are.

God is not pleased when we allow anyone to control us or manipulate us for their profit. He doesn’t get the glory when others use us to get what they want instead of seeking Him and His way of doing things.


We don’t have to put on a front to go to God and get the approval we are looking for. We are always enough for God! God loves us as we are, no matter how messy we may be. He loves us despite our insecurities, our mistakes, our fears, and our problems.

When God is your source, you will always be fulfilled. He tells us in His Word He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).

As humans, the reality is that we have a void in our lives only God can fill. Money, shopping, the perfect family life, none of it can fill that void. We can make ourselves appear happy on the outside, but at the end of the day, we still will not feel total fulfillment in our lives.

When we look to God as our source of fulfillment, He will never fail us. As women, we like to be validated by others, but too often, we rely on other insecure humans for our sense of confidence. Instead, when we rely on God; listen to what He says about us; and understand that He is our strength, our worth, and that we are enough in Him, anything the world tells us will be extra. The world will no longer be our source of confidence.

I want to encourage you to look to God for your identity. Don’t let the world define you. Instead, seek God, and believe what He says about you!

~ Drenda

Are you looking for a good church? Be sure and listen on Saturday evening or catch the 3 services on Sunday for Faith Life Church!


Drenda Keesee’s contagious zeal and humorous personal experiences help make her ministry of spiritual, emotional and relational wholeness one that will bless your life and spark a new fire in your spirit.

A wife of over 30 years and a mother of five children, Drenda has ministered at churches, seminars, and conferences, and through the mediums of television and radio, for more than 20 years.

Her books, The New Vintage Family, Better Than You Think, and She Gets It are available wherever books are sold. In these heartfelt books, Drenda shares her personal journey and the life lessons that have brought her to where she is today, as well as practical answers that all people need to live a joyful life.

Drenda and her husband Gary founded Faith Life Now, a ministry designed to spread the message of freedom in the areas of finances, faith, marriage, and family. Tune in for their weekly messages here. Faith Life Now hosts conferences worldwide, and sponsors both Fixing the Money Thing, which Drenda co-hosts with her husband Gary, and Drenda.

Through their own life experiences, the Keesees have found the principles from God’s Word to be powerful and effective. At one point, Drenda was a young, suicidal feminist with no hope of ever being “good enough” for her own standards of perfection. She never wanted the “inconvenience” of a husband or children, and she was on her own path to success. But the stress of trying to achieve perfection and perform for love left her broken and used. She had success, but it was nothing compared to the pain and loneliness it had also brought.

That’s when God got a hold of her heart. It was there—at her lowest point—that she found the One who accepted and loved her, faults and all. Since that transformation, Drenda has had a passion to reach women who find themselves where she once was.

She married Gary after attending college, and there she found herself in a personal boot camp of sorts. She says, “I cried and told God, ‘I can do anything but be a wife and mother.’” She committed to learning how to do it God’s way. Through the many years of raising their children and struggling to make ends meet, Drenda learned from their mistakes. “I didn’t know how to be a wife and mother, but God saved our marriage, taught us how to parent our children for success, showed us how to have financial success, and then irony of all ironies, He called us to ministry.” It’s truly because of these life experiences that Drenda can now share so many insightful principles for people who are now going through the same struggles.

Gary and Drenda pastor Faith Life Church at The Now Center in New Albany, Ohio and also are the CEOs of Forward Financial Group.

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