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Examining the Real Motives behind Perfectionism and People Pleasing


Examining the Real Motives behind Perfectionism and People Pleasing.

I think that a few of the wives out there may have had some of these issues even in high school and college like I did… if so, this post from may be interesting to you! I am not an expert on this topic, but I have had to deal with it in my own life. And I have walked beside a lot of women who have dealt with these issues, too. Maybe you’d like to share what you have learned with my sister in Christ who is in college that I am talking with about these important issues?


I’m on a blogging vacation with our children on spring break this week. But you are welcome to comment and discuss!

18 thoughts on “Examining the Real Motives behind Perfectionism and People Pleasing

  1. Good post. I’ve read one and I’ll read the others when I have more time. I can relate to her A LOT. I was also a music major ( voice not violin) and everyone’s expectations caused me to completely mess up in performances. My voice coach would get so mad at me because my performance was nothing like the practice because of the pressure. I ended up changing my major because I couldn’t take it anymore… I failed. That said, I have been directing a children’s choir for over 14 years and do get joy from that because I don’t have to perform. I am just teaching the kids how to worship God through music and the actual results don’t matter. I still get nervous when I sing in church, though it is much easier than in college because I know the message is so much more important than the singer.

    Thanks again for the links. I’ll keep reading them.

    1. Elizabeth,

      I remember asking my piano teacher if I could play hymns and Christian music. I got a very stern, “NO! You play CLASSICAL music only!”

      I had to put 5 pennies on the left side of the piano or flute music stand. And play each measure perfectly – then move one penny over. Then play it perfectly again, and move the 2nd penny… until I played it 5 times perfectly in a row or I had to start all over again with the pennies on the left until I could play each measure perfectly 5 times in a row.

      You know what? All of that pressure and expectations from my music teachers TAUGHT me perfectionism.

      Yes, I played well. But – I was a nervous wreck and would make myself sick before concerts and competitions and dreaded playing at competitions. 🙁

      I still do tense up when I hear classical music. That is really sad.

      Music should be a joy! Not a source of extreme anxiety and stress.

      That is interesting that you were majoring in music, too.

      There is plenty of pressure to be perfect in pharmacy, too. It is different though – if you mess up – someone could be hurt, sick or die. So – I’m not sure that I chose my profession very wisely!

      Much love!

      1. This post reminds me of an experience I vividly remember from this past year. Back in the fall, our seven year old daughter bought a recorder and played it for several weeks. We got into several discussions about different wind instruments, etc.

        Around the same time, there was a local class offered to early elementary aged kids, and taught by a floutist who plays with a prominent orchestra in our area. So I signed her up!

        Our daughter loves music. She’s never had a lesson, but she sings constantly and is always playing some instrument. Last summer she developed inticate systems for writing and recording songs on both the piano and guitar and has already written several original pieces.

        As we sat in class the first day, the children were asked to go around the room and name which instrument they play and for how long. Our daughter was closest to the instructor. She answered, “Hmm. . .I guess my whole life I’ve played the recorder, the tamborine, the marraccas, paino, guitar, . . . my brother has drums, but he doesn’t let me play that often. . .” As she was thinking to name more, the teacher answered, “Wow, okay!”, and went on to the next child, who, sat up straight and began for the rest of the kids who all said, “Violin – 3years, Piano-2 years, . .et.c. . .”

        It ended up being a super fun class and my daughter really enjoyed it and met some new friends. But when I think back to that question and answer period, I remember being so saddened for a room of kids who were so young, and already appeared so serious about their training and accomplishments. From my perspective, their focused training appeared to limit them so much.. . .

        1. Fallenshort,
          You know what? My first piano and flute teachers were WONDERFUL! They were vibrant Christian women and I LOVED playing and practicing. It was fun. I learned a lot. I did well. We had recitals. And I played at nursing homes sometimes. Those are such good memories. But then when we moved to South Carolina, the teachers I had were all about competitions and winning and being the best. They often made their students cry. And they seemed glad to make them cry.

          Such a vastly different experience!

          I have seen the same thing in other activities as well. It’s as if – “Well, you didn’t start when you were 3 years old. So now you are WAY behind and you can never catch up.”

          I would love for our children to get to learn and have some discipline but also enjoy the learning process and get to spread their wings.

          Thank you so much for sharing!

          1. I was certainly not implying that lessons are all bad or that our daughter will never take lessons. Only that the contrast in that particular conversation was very clear to me. And, as you said, it seems to be a common theme sometimes. Sorry if it was taken that way!

            I do believe, though, that we often are put through, or put our children through, years of training for things that Yahweh never intends for us to use. And, sometimes as a result, we never fully realize the natural gifts we’ve been given.

            I’m glad you had a wonderful early experience 🙂 I agree, that’s the way it should be!

  2. I REALLY liked this one

    And I know that you guys keep talking about ripping up idols. I’m not sure HOW to do that. Most of the things on the list apply to me, except I don’t gossip and I don’t have unforgiveness because I can see why people do what they do and they look reasonable so why should I have to forgive them. Especially my husband, I have no right to ever be mad at him so I never am. His point of view is completely valid and right nearly 100 percent of the time.

    1. Elizabeth,

      What I had to do was first RECOGNIZE that I was making these things more important to me than Christ. I didn’t realize I was doing this until 5 years ago.

      Then there was a long process of hashing through and writing down all of my fears, motives, goals, desires, inner dialogue and the “tapes” I would tell myself. And I had to replace those things that were not true with the truth of God’s Word.

      It is quite a process. A total renovation of the heart, mind and soul.

      I had to realize the faulty messages and lies I had believed and built my life upon. And then had to consciously deconstruct them, reject them and very purposely rebuild on the truth of Jesus and His Word.

      It took a LONG time! I’m still not done! 🙂

    2. Elizabeth,

      Anger is an important emotion. God gives it to us as a blessing. When we use it in a healthy way – we can be very productive with anger. We do sometimes have a right to be angry at situations, circumstances, sin committed against us, etc. But God wants us not to sin in our anger and to not allow it to turn into bitterness, resentment…

      If you are on my PW Facebook page, I had a link to a very interesting article about anger from yesterday that I think may be helpful. 🙂

      1. Elizabeth,
        If you are looking for a good study to do. Get a concordance and study the word “anger” and read about the times God is angry. Of course, He doesn’t sin in His anger. But He does set a good example for us! 🙂

        1. I may need to do that. My parents argued violently and I soon learned that anger was dangerous and to be avoided at all costs. Plus, they NEVER looked at each other’s sides. I’ve discovered that I really cannot be mad at ANYONE once I’ve looked at their side. Their point of view is valid and who is to say that my way of doing things is more valid??? But then again I live in a pretty sheltered world probably. But anyway, anger is something I just cannot afford for me to feel. WAY WAY too dangerous.

          1. Elizabeth,

            When people stuff and suppress anger, it causes depression.

            I am not saying you should act like your parents did. They obviously sinned in their anger and used anger destructively.

            But there is such a thing as righteous anger. Jesus had it. God has it. The disciples had it when appropriate. There are things that should make us angry. The things that make God angry should make us angry. If we see someone being mistreated, we should be angry and want to help. If we see people being oppressed, we should feel angry. If we see God being blasphemed or mocked, we should be angry.

            There are times in our lives we should feel angry, when we are sinned against, for instance. But then we can learn to harness the anger under the power of God’s Spirit to speak the truth in love, to ask for what we need, to share that we are hurt, to ask for things to change, etc…

            I think you may want to study this topic deeply and learn to feel and express anger appropriately – as a very important step on the path to healing.
            I think we have hit on a major issue in your walk with Christ. It may be time to camp out here and allow God to heal you and replace the lies you have in your heart with His truth and find His healing so that you can feel all of your emotions, including anger, and learn to use them in godly ways.

            Much love!

            1. Being “nice” and “not hurting people’s feelings” is a BIG part of people pleasing – that was where I lived for decades. It was such a prison!

              There is great freedom in only seeking to please God, not people. We can love people and honor them and respect them as God desires us to. But we don’t have to be prisoners of other people’s emotions and approval anymore!

  3. I do not have a facebook account. I googled lifeway and anger and got a couple of hits. First one was about kids? Second healthy anger?

  4. Ephesians 5:25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

  5. From the list that I thought was really good. I had most of them:
    Here are 52 Ways to Recognize the Chronic, Ingrained People Pleaser…
    The perpetual people pleaser…
    1 Always avoid conflicts or even disagreements.
    2 Makes it a habit to say yes when he or she wants to say no.
    3 Constantly worries about hurting others’ feelings.
    4 Has no idea what their dreams or goals are.
    5 Feels they are never “good” enough.
    6 Would rather be nice and perfect than happy.
    7 Functions totally from “shoulds.”
    8 Assures they always do more than their share.
    9 Rarely makes decisions, putting it off on anyone else to do it. Not really true. I make decisions all the time in all of my spheres of influence except with my husband. I’m terrified to make a mistake with him.
    10 Is baffled by the concept, take it easy and relax. I do like to relax. That is what I struggle most with my husband. I do 4 things on the to do list then I have to do something fun for me. Then I do another 3 or 4 things. If my husband finishes early, he just puts something else on the list. I feel so lazy next to him.
    11 Confuses being “needed” with being “loved.”
    12 Has a never-ending time management problem. Nope, I am VERY VERY good at juggling my ten million things to do list, especially those given by my husband. I do those first.
    13 Avoids giving themselves credit for anything.
    14 Makes it a practice to please strangers and neglect loved ones. Nope I neglect my responsibliites sometimes to please my husband. I feel bad but I would feel worse disappointing my husband.
    15 Easily attracts people who need to be rescued and consoled.
    16 Strongly believes they need to “do” something to be “loved” or even “accepted.”
    17 Is very insecure about their abilities, knowledge or just about anything they do.
    18 Routinely operates on auto pilot.
    19 Jumps to volunteer, especially for jobs that no one else will do.
    20 Feels exhausted from always trying to be “perfect.”
    21 Has a huge fear of letting their friends, family and even strangers down. Mostly my husband. I could care less about strangers and when I have to choose between obligations and my husband I always choose my husband.
    22 Almost always feel undeserving.
    23 Thinks nothing of telling lies to not rock the boat. Yep, unfortunately true.
    24 Overpromises.
    25 Constantly seeks approval from others, but could care less about their own opinions.
    26 Overapologizes.
    27 Wastes time with people who really don’t care or consider their needs.
    28 Think they are solely responsible for others’ happiness.
    29 Are scared to death of being called selfish, even for an instant. Yep, that is me, deathly afraid of this as it seems unbiblical.
    30 Rarely, if ever, asks for help or accepts help.
    31 Constantly suppresses anger, fearing rejection.
    32 Would much rather be nice than be real.
    33 Has no desire to listen and follow their intuition.
    34 Continuously holds back from saying what they really think and feel. ESPECIALLY with my husband.
    35 Often feels trapped.
    36 Are scared to death of being wrong or taking any kind of risk. Yep, that’s me.
    37 Reduces their own anxiety by focusing on others’ needs.
    38 Comes unglued easily when under pressure. My worst fault!!!!!
    39 Has plenty of regrets.
    40 Tries to provide and control everything in the relationship without considering their own feelings and needs.
    41 Are willing to bend over backwards to make unhappy, self-centered, controlling people feel better about themselves.
    42 Becomes paralyzed with little nightmares we make up about “if we said and did this, they will say and do that.” Oh man, is this ever true. I redo every scenario, especially with my husband in my head.
    43 Is extremely critical of themselves.
    44 Has a really hard time accepting kindness from others.
    45 Has poor problem-solving skills. I am really, really good at problem solving and figuring out how to get things done.
    46 Is unable to direct or supervise others. Iam actually very good at being in charge of the groups I belong to. I often tell them no about being head leader, though. I don’t want that responsibility. 2nd in charge is my favorite position. But I make decisions in my music program all the time or lead up graduation or teach a class. Taking charge is easy in some venues.
    47 Feels guilty about not accomplishing enough or not being able to make everyone happy.
    48 Runs on the praise and appreciation of other people.
    49 Seldom, if ever, expresses an opinion of their own.
    50 Is secretly terrified of being “found out” that they are not as good as they appear to others. Absolutely YES
    51 Displays a bland personality. They don’t want to appear interesting, unique, or challenging. Nope, too risky. I am not sure people see me as bland..

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