Chosen and Approved Series, Identity, People Pleasing

People-Pleasing: Where People-Pleasing Leads



+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I am honored to kick off a blog series with two writers I truly respect: Emily Conrad and Mary Geisen. Over the next six weeks, the three of us will take turns sharing on our series called— Chosen and Approved: Untangling Our Identities from People and Perfection. This series resonates with my heart—both because of what I’m learning about my identity and how insecurity affects it, and because I suspect others also struggle with knowing who they really are. It is my hope that this series will minister and speak life-giving truths to all who read the posts.


Frozen flower


If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I’ve been a people-pleasing girl for most of my life.

I’m not proud of this.

Peer-rejection does crooked things to a young girl’s heart. It leaves her craving acceptance and approval . . . to the exclusion (and the erasure) of learning how to be herself. Who God created her to be.

Brown leaf among rocks


Rejection implanted warped messages in my thoughts and heart. Messages that told me approval comes from acting a certain way, the way the “popular people” acted. Which often compromised who I genuinely was.

But that was okay because I was accepted, right?

Gathered leaves


Only, I never knew what one thing I might do or say that would cause me to become un-accepted.

Striving for others’ approval became a prison. The bars weren’t made of iron. They were forged by the perceptions I had of how others viewed me.

In training myself to live this way, I became a captive to insecurity. Seeking others’ approval became more important than discovering who I was created to be.

Autumn fallen leavesI


Because who I was inside was the “me” who was rejected.

It was easier to act the part of who others thought I should be. Less painful that way, too.

Being a people-pleaser didn’t yield the satisfaction I thought it would.

Even in my thirties, I aimed for acceptance. You’d think a grown woman would be further along than this, right?

I suspect everyone has some issues when it comes to understanding our identity. When we seek our identity in anything other than Jesus, we’re living from a place of insecurity.

Red leaves


For me it’s looked like:

  • being uber-careful about what I said and didn’t say
  • doing things for others with the hope of being noticed and affirmed by them
  • trying to appear put together—in the ways I dressed and acted
  • not sharing my honest thoughts about things said and situations I’ve faced
  • being more of an observer than an engager in social situations

Insecurity has shaped the way I’ve lived life and interacted with others. I sought to please people because it gave me affirmation, and perceived acceptance.



God has been healing the layers of the rejection-wound in my heart. One pivotal conversation He and I had occurred after one disappointing morning. I was struggling with feeling insignificant.

I had a “come-to-Jesus” meeting. He asked me if He was enough for me. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Really, Lord? Of course, You are!

God: So, if I never gave you any more friendships, would I still be enough?

My second answer caught in my throat.

God: Jeanne?

Me: Yes, Lord?

God: Am I enough for you?

When God asks a question this directly, you don’t just give a cavalier answer.



I knew my answer should be yes. But I’d spent over thirty years seeking acceptance from people.

I remembered His love for me. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, blood spilling down that wooden beam. The painful torture and death He endured . . . for me.

God: I love you, Jeanne. Even if everyone else in your life rejects you, I will never reject you. You are my daughter.

Those words . . .

Even if everyone else rejected me? God would still love me.

It took time to honestly embrace this truth. But knowing that God’s love for me will never change? That He loves me even when I’m ugly and insecure and unkind to those around me? This has been a huge step in moving beyond insecurity.



When we allow insecurity to determine our actions, our words, our thoughts, we can’t live an authentic life.

With “authentic” being my one word this year, God’s been teaching me that I need to choose honesty in acknowledging what I’m really thinking and feeling. I’m blogging more on this later. This kind of deep down honesty is where we begin to move beyond insecurity and into living with authenticity.



We won’t always make others happy when we’re honest. But there’s really only One person we need to worry about, and the best thing is? He’s already accepted us. He loves us, and that will never change.

What about you? What helps you live an authentic life? How have you dealt with insecurity?

Click to Tweet: Being a people-pleaser didn’t yield satisfaction

Today I’m linking up with Holly Barrett’s Testimony Tuesday and Kelly Balarie’s #RaRaLinkUp

34 thoughts on “People-Pleasing: Where People-Pleasing Leads”

  1. “…the prison of insecurity…”

    No sadder words. I went in the other direction (no surprise, I suppose). I was never tall, but always broad and strong, and people who messed with me in schooldays got thrown through windows. Including an assistant headmaster. (They were lucky, because I always carried a knife and pistol, from the age of eleven onward.)

    That was about as authentic as I could get. I simply did not care, and got to the point where a ‘wrong look’ would get a classmate beaten against a locker until he passed out. (A friend once offered me weed to mellow me out. That was a mistake on his part, as my disapproval of drugs could only be called ‘violent’.)

    I’d like to say I am a changed man; while the tripwires are better-controlled, they’re still there, and I authentically go from Zen-calm to KABOOM faster than you can read it. But while in youth there was heat, now it’s a cold calm. Barbara says I scare people even when I’m nice.

    In high school it made me a menace, but in the killing fields it made me an asset, and I guess that’s why God made me this way. They say that violence doesn’t solve anything – but there are some folks in a Central American country whom I was able to help survive, and who would vehemently disagree.


    1. You’re right, Andrew. The prison of insecurity IS sad. It’s such a journey to find true freedom. It seems like part of living authentically is being comfortable with who you are . . . really. Strengths, weaknesses and everything else. I’d say you have this pretty well figured out, my friend. So thankful for your insights. And your transparency.


  2. It’s so true that if we are attached to an outcome from the world, we cannot live authentically to how God made us. I’m not sure I will ever be a 100% unattached all the time, but this year God sure has worked with me by first a stirring that something wasn’t right, and then pointers to stop doing so I couldn’t wrap my identity in anything I was doing (which was really hard!) and bringing people in my life to mentor me during that period. And am glad I’m single as I couldn’t rely on a relationship for my security either! It’s still on-going for sure. And all I can say…is don’t give in to the impulse to relieve the insecurity, the uncomfortable feeling of not knowing even who you are, with something from the world. The complete surrender is worth it and He’s got your security rope!


    1. Lynn, I’m with you. I think one of my thorns in the flesh has been the struggle with the rejection wound. But, as I grow older, and closer to Him, God shows me how He wants me to live beyond that wound. I like how you described God stirring in you, revealing that something wasn’t quite right. When we’re listening, we can learn so much, can’t we?

      You are fortunate to have mentors to help you and to speak truth into your life. Finding our security in God alone, as you know, is the best place to find it. God has ways of placing us in situations and seasons to teach us, doesn’t He? Loved your thoughts here today. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rejection is so powerful. But God is so much more powerful! I’m looking forward to this series! Visiting today from #RaRaLinkup Have a happy Tuesday! Thank you for the encouraging words today!


  4. I relate to your words so much, Jeanne. People pleasing, approval, rejection – they are such a slippery slope, yet something we all deal with. My heart is to live that honest and authentic life before God, but those are daily choices. It certainly is not a decision made once and for all – it isn’t a rewiring and undoing of all that shaped us in the past.

    I know for me, being authentic, is very intentional. It means staying in tune with God, having those conversations with Him and with others, and remembering that He loves me. The rest of the work is bathed in grace. I’m really looking forward to this series, and to seeing what God does in you and for us through it. Big hugs, dear friend.


    1. Tiffany, you’re so right. Living an authentic life is a day by day, sometimes moment by moment decision. It’s a refining God must do that transforms us from who we thought we were into who He knows we are. Staying in tune with God is so important. I love your thoughts here. Thank you, friend!


  5. Your stories trigger so many thoughts of my own life and experiences, Jeanne. The peer rejection I went through wasn’t huge or dramatic, but it left deep scars. For years, I thought people who moved out of my life for whatever reason did so because of some flaw in me. Beyond that, I so badly wanted to fit in when I was younger, and in so many ways, I just didn’t. I can see now that God used some of those ways to protect me, though it certainly didn’t seem like it at the time.

    I’ve been thinking about these things lately, and I’m not sure what to do with them. Write? Think some more? Just be glad for the growth and changes that have happened as a result of my years in the wilderness? I don’t know, but I certainly appreciate the way your words are serving as a catalyst for processing I didn’t even know I needed to do! So looking forward to reading more of this series. 🙂


    1. Lois, it sounds like you and I have so much in common (even more than I knew!). I’m 99% certain God used my not fitting in in high school to protect me—from myself and the stupid decisions I would have made. You may be finding this too, but for me, God is working on various aspects of this wound over time. Because I know you draw near to Him, I am certain He will show you exactly what He wants you to do. He’ll probably even bring healing in areas you didn’t know you needed it. I’m praying for you today as you process. So thankful for you!


  6. A marvelous kick off to the series, Jeanne! Such great truth this line: “When we seek our identity in anything other than Jesus, we’re living from a place of insecurity.”


  7. I can so relate to this, Jeanne. I’m still a work in progress in letting go of all those people-pleasing tendencies. I think it’s so deeply rooted that if I don’t say or act like people want me to, they will reject me. But I keep trying to intentionally focus on my identity in Christ and being the “me” He created me to be. I loved how God spoke to your heart about whether He will be enough for you. It kind of scares me and makes me reflect on whether I could still cling to Him if everyone else rejected me. It’s good for me to think about this. I’m so glad He will never reject us even when we feel like we can’t say “yes” with all our hearts to His question. He is so faithful and patient with us, isn’t He? Thank you for encouraging me today!


    1. Trudy, I’m not going to lie. It took me some heart-searching before I could say yes to God on the “enough” question. It wasn’t easy to say yes. But when I remember that He really IS my all-in-all? He is the One who knows me better than I know myself, and He’s the one who meets my needs, AND He’s the One who loves me even at my ugliest? It was a little easier to say yes, agree in my head, and then bring my heart along in the decision. He still has to remind me, sometimes, about this decision. 🙂 And yes, we can take great comfort in the truth that He will never reject us.

      I’m so glad you stopped by. Thanks for your transparency.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m glad I’m not the only people-pleasing-work-in-progress out there! I’m getting much better and analyzing my needs and stating them (I think I thought for a long time that I didn’t need needs ;)).


    1. Anita, I had to grin at your thinking you didn’t need needs. So been there, my friend. I HATED that I had needs, and I could be needy. Yeah, that’s humbling stuff right there. 🙂 I always appreciate your thoughts here.


  9. This looks like it will be a great series, Jeanne. I love reading your posts and Mary’s, and look forward to discovering Emily’s too. I have definitely spent too much time trying to please others rather than being who I am made to be. It’s sad that so many of us struggle with it but also reassuring that I’m not alone. It is amazing to know that our acceptance in God is absolutely secure- it changes a lot to even begin to grasp that.


  10. Jeanne, I can relate to not speaking honestly. That has been a huge one for me but the writing helps. Wonder if it helps you too? This series is going to be awesome! So fantastic that you and Emily are doing this together. Such good work.


    1. Christina, not speaking honestly feels safer in the short term. But in the longer run, it leaves us isolated and unconnected. Yes, writing has definitely helped me! 🙂 I’m glad to see I’m in such good company. I’m really excited about this series with Emily and Mary. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!


  11. Jeanne,
    I can so relate to this. I remember going to the mall with friends as a teenager. We’d be looking at clothes and I distinctly remember being afraid of expressing what I like and/or disliked for fear that the others might think I had poor taste in clothing or style. How silly I think now, but that was a very real existence for me. It’s been a long road, but finding my identity in Christ and not in what others thought about me has been one of the most freeing journeys. I’m not “there” yet, but i’m a lot farther down the road. I also find that the more real I am with people – admitting my struggles and shortcomings – the more I am actually able to relate and minister to others. Great post, Jeanne,


    1. Yes, Bev, I have those high school memories too. I was always so afraid to share my honest thoughts because I equated different as bad back then. Oy. I’m with you. I’m not sure I’ll ever be completely at the place where I never, ever worry about what others think. But, I’m getting better. I, too, have found that when I’m real with my struggles and failings, people can relate to me. It’s funny how God’s worked that, isn’t it? Thank you so much for stopping by!


  12. Powerful post (with gorgeous pictures), Jeanne. That moment when God asked you if He was enough “stuck in my throat” recently, too. A painful visit with people from my past made me revisit this subject. Yes, He is enough—more than enough. Thank you for sharing from the heart; it helps me know I’m not alone.
    Blessings ~ Wendy


    1. Wendy, I wonder if each person, at some point in life, have to come to terms with this question. I’ve found that God will sometimes bring me face to face with the question on occasion. Usually when He knows I need a realignment closer to Him.

      I take comfort in knowing I’m not alone in this too. Thank you for sharing a piece of you here, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. As with the rest of the population on this planet, I also have a rejection button. Mine is generally triggered by me. I have such high expectations and so, so many “shoulds.” It’s crazy hard to let them go, but a serious health problem has given me much more time to slow down, breathe, and to let go a bit. It’s tough because that is who I have been for all of my life, but I am to a point where I want something better. By God’s grace and kindness, I may get closer to overcoming it.


    1. Carmen, it IS hard to let go of expectations. We establish a standard in our minds, and it’s so difficult to change that mindset.

      I’ve had to really evaluate my expectations of myself too. I’ve found that most of my expectations stemmed from a deep desire for acceptance. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with a chronic illness. I’m saying a prayer for you today for that, and for you as you find healing on this journey.

      Thank you so much for stopping by here. It was nice to “meet” you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Yes, that’s me. Until a year ago. I spoke up. But it nearly killed me. I’d been so good about being quiet. And like always, I fell apart … but God is taking the pieces and making me new, again and again. He’s faithful. I trust Him. ❤ Love you, friend.


    1. Shelli, I find it easier to be quiet too. Confrontation—real or perceived? No, thank you. But, as you shared, it destroys me in time. I become resentful, then bitter and withdrawn. Not a pretty picture. I’m so glad that God works in us, that He helps us to become more like Jesus. Thank you for sharing here.


  15. This is such a great idea for a series, I’m glad you three are doing it.
    This entry had me having difficulty breathing because it spoke to hurts that still go fown so deep. Thank you for giving words to things that I didnt know still threatened to silence me. Thank yiu friend


    1. Janel, thank you so much for stopping by. I know those hurts. And I’m so sorry you’re still walking with them. Although God does miraculously heal even these emotional wounds, I’m finding most of the time, He chooses to heal parts of the wound at a time. He erases the lies we’ve believed and writes over those spots with His truth. He doesn’t necessarily remove the scars, but as we trust Him with the ouch, He eases the pain and heals the wound. He does provide freedom from the pain, in time. And, He teaches us to turn to Him when the pain reminds us the wound is still there. I’m saying a prayer for you tonight, friend.

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