The 7 Toxic Mindsets of a People Pleaser

The 7 Toxic Mindsets of a People Pleaser

By Drenda Keesee


Years ago, I was a bit of a chameleon… Okay, I didn’t change colors, but I was constantly changing who I was to fit what I thought people wanted me to be. As the culture changed its idea of the “perfect” woman, I adapted to fit that new image.

I will never forget standing in front of the mirror, angry tears streaming down my cheeks, and shouting, “I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!”

I felt like I could NEVER be enough for people. No matter what I did, or how hard I tried, I just fell short….

That’s when I learned a simple truth that brought me from a people-pleasing prison to eternal freedom.

That truth?

You only need one person’s approval: and that’s God’s!!! 

People pleasing can become such a deeply rooted pattern that it’s hard to recognize we are even doing it! We tell ourselves we’re just being nice because it’s the right thing to do when, really, we are letting ourselves become doormats for people who don’t have our best interests at heart because our identities are in the wrong place.

We are called to walk in love, but here’s the big difference: when we are people pleasing, we are operating from a place of guilt, NOT obedience to God.

I learned how to stop living for the opinions of people the long, hard way, but you don’t have to…

According to Counseling Recovery, here are the seven most common mind-sets of a people pleaser:

1. If I say no, you’ll be mad.

No isn’t a negative word, especially when your no allows you to say yes to something more important! There were many times Gary and I had to say no to friends, business appointments, and work calls so we could protect our family time. If somebody has your best interests at heart, they will understand that you can’t always say yes to their demands.

If you feel afraid to say no to somebody because they will be mad at you, that can be a good indication that it’s time to reevaluate and potentially end that relationship.

2. To be loved, I have to be who you want me to be.

This is a really good time to talk about why it’s so important to measure EVERYTHING against the Word of God. When you do a side-by-side comparison of different messages, it becomes very clear what is of God and what is not. Here is an example:

A shark says:

“There is something wrong with you. If you would just change, people would love you more.”

The Word of God says:

You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.

—Psalm 139:13-14 (GW)

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

John 15:18-19 (NIV)

There will always be voices of criticism telling you that you are not good enough, but there is always one voice of eternal encouragement telling you, “You are loved, and you are my delight.”

Your success in life depends on which voice you let guide your choices.

3. If you would just change, everything would be great.

Often in relationships, people pleasers try to change other people to fit what they want them to be. In fact, some people spend years on wishful thinking instead of pursuing what they really deserve. We can’t control someone else’s actions or force them to change.

Stop waiting on someone else to be accountable for your happiness, and start asking yourself: What do I need to do to follow God’s path for my life?

4. I can’t leave you; no one else will want me.

No. No. NO.

This is exactly how the enemy gets you to settle! If you are afraid to be yourself, you will spend your life trying to be someone else and become VERY unhappy in the process. You will surrender your dreams at the altar of fear. Let God’s genuine love cast out that fear; He is the only one who can make you whole!

You don’t live for identity; you live FROM identity. You are worthy!

5. I can’t ask for what I want, because that is selfish.

You are not a bad person for having needs! God created us with desires and dreams for our lives. People pleasing stops when you start honoring who you are and become unapologetic about what you need. Philippians 4:19 (KJV) says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

6. I have to give up who I am so that we can be happy.

If you need to perform for someone’s love, it’s conditional, and that’s not real love! Go to God; trust His will. His love is always unconditional!

7. If you’re upset, I must have done something wrong.

People pleasers often feel responsible for other people’s feelings and actions. They are all too eager to take on the blame to maintain the approval of someone else. This is dangerous because sharks are looking for people just like this, people who will assume accountability for their wrongdoing. Be very cautious; difficult people will use this trait in good people to manipulate them.

Again, this comes back to how you see yourself as well as how you talk to yourself.

When you replace negative self-talk with godly encouragement, you will start to see yourself how Gods sees you!

I want to encourage you to keep swimming and don’t give up on turning a people-pleasing mindset around. God did it for me, and He can do it for you too! He wants you to be happy, to thrive in your purpose and passions, despite the sharks that are trying to intimidate you.


To learn more about how to successfully deal with difficult people, check out my newest book, Shark Proof: How to Deal with Difficult People! I learned this skill the long, hard way, but you don’t have to!

Order your copy of Shark Proof today!

I know that this book is going to unlock the incredible principles that changed my life. I can’t wait for you to read it!


Listen in Now to 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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