How Your People-Pleasing is Affecting Your Health


Last year I wrote about people-pleasing in one of my posts.  I wrote the  post  for a few of my clients and people I met in the Healthy by Design Programs. Little did I realize how much people-pleasing was also affecting my own life too.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago– I hired a coach to help me manage certain areas of my business. After getting to know me and praying about my challenges, my coach Leesa assessed that I was an over-giver a.k.a people-pleaser. I could think of worse issues I thought to myself but over the last couple of weeks of ‘studying’ myself and noticing my over-giving tendencies, I realize how pervasive this ‘identity’ is in every part of my life and how how much this ‘identity’ was keeping me from my goals, dreams and purpose that God has created me for.

Lees put me on to a book called, The Art of Extreme Self-Care by Cheryl Richardson. Contrary to what I believed, I learned that  people-pleasing or “over-giving is a sign of deprivation; a signal that a need is not being met, an emotion isn’t being expressed or a void isn’t getting filled.” This hit me like a ton of bricks when I read it in Chery’s book. I realize that I’m much like most of my clients I’ve talked to over the years, my over-giving is deeply tied to the reasons why I rebel against my own success; why I stuff my feelings with food;and why I bail on my workout when I know I need it.

This week I will explain the connection between over-giving your health and weight but over the coming weeks I will spend more time going into strategies and solutions.  To see if this could also be an issue for you, here are some of the traits or symptoms of a people-pleaser:

Characteristics of a People-pleaser

  • Over-schedule ourselves to accommodate other people
  •  Say ‘yes’ to everything even when we want to say ‘no’
  • Overly concerned with what people think of us
  • Afraid to express our anger or discontentment
  • Put other peoples needs before our own
  • Not direct about what we need and expect others to read our mind
  • Don’t ask for help – have an ‘I’ll do it myself’ mentality
  • Give to others at the detriment of ourselves
  • In a perpetual state of multi-tasking
  • Immerse ourselves in the needs of others
  • Don’t set limits and boundaries on allowing others access to us
  • Too concerned with what people think
  • over-give of time, knowledge, expertise

Why We do it

The bottom line of why we people-please or over-give is because we care too much about what other people think of us. Here are some other similar but slightly different reasons.

  • We want people to like us and feel uncomfortable when they don’t
  • We want people to see us as nice, wise, helpful or other positive attributes
  • We avoid anxiety of people being disappointed or mad at us
  • We don’t want people to think we’re selfish, self-centred or other negative traits
  • We don’t want to be judged or criticized by others
  • We fear conflict and want to keep the peace
  • We fear rejection

How  People-Pleasing Affects Our Weight

There are spiritual, emotional and actual biochemical ways that this ‘identity’ affects our weight.

1. When we try to please other people, it leaves us in a constant state of stress. We’re never at peace because we’re always worried about who will be upset at us if we say or do the wrong thing. This constant stress raises our cortisol levels.

2. People-pleasers are often afraid of confrontation and are always trying to keep the peace. Instead of confronting someone who offends them, they will stuff their hurt, angry or offended feelings with food. The end result, over-eating and weight gain.

3.  People pleasers are often over-whelmed and frustrated with how many things they have on their plate. Because they feel so powerless to confront the things stressing them out they will seek pleasure from food instead of seeking out healthier  ways of coping. They may also feel that they don’t deserve to take better care of themselves. The end result – over-eating and weight gain.


So now that we know the impact that people-pleasing is having on all areas of our lives, what next? Next week I will spend some time talking about solutions.

In the meantime, spend this week to become aware of how your people-pleasing tendencies are affecting various areas of your life – especially your health.  Notice the people, places and things that cause you to shut down or make you feel anxious. Start to become aware of how and why you feel deprived. Notice what things you are saying ‘yes’ to when you really want to say ‘no’. Notice all the things you really want to do versus the things you end up doing. And notice all the times you get angry.

Healthy by Design programs are all about getting to the root of why we keep spinning our wheels. If people-pleasing is one of the identities you’ve taken on then its time to reclaim your true identity. You were born to live a full, healthy life in Christ; a life where you can freely express yourself honestly without fear of others; a life where you can eat to enjoy your food and not to stuff your feelings and where you don’t use food to pacify and soothe your brokenness.




Source: The Art of Extreme Self-Care by Cheryl Richardson



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