New Year, New No, and Recognising the Dark Side of People Pleasing

In the final 2022 episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I share a deleted chapter from my forthcoming book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want.

Originally titled Gone Girl, Tiger Woods, and the Dark Side of People Pleasing, I break down how people pleasing results in us sometimes behaving uncharacteristically. To escape the chains of the roles we play and trying to keep up with our and other people’s often unrealistic expectations and projections, we might act out behind the scenes, go rogue on the version of ourselves that people have come to expect from us, lash out, or experience the toll of the chronic stress of our people-pleasing habit. Please note that while most of this chapter didn’t make it into the book, some elements did, of course, make it in.

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5 key topics in this episode

  • We’re all liars. It’s not that we’ve necessarily set out to lie and be deceptive with the aim of trying to gain an advantage over people, but our people pleasing has turned us into liars because in situations where we have the choice between being honest, even if there’s a possibility of conflict, or going along with things, we’ll often opt for the latter, especially if we think it means that we’ll get to avoid criticism, disappointment, loss and rejection, or we think it will lead to us getting what we want. 
  • What we’re really angry about [when things don’t go our way or we feel rejected despite our people pleasing] is feeling that if they don’t want the fake us, that’s supposed to be “pleasing”, then it means it’s not safe to be our real selves. 
  • We think that we don’t `’do” anger or that we’re just trying to be a Good Person or whatever, but actually, people pleasing is us expressing our silent rage about being or feeling forced to cooperate with illusions that we feel too powerless, ashamed and afraid to stop complying with. Each time we people-please, aside from it expressing our anxiety about something, it’s also us saying ‘I’m still angry’
  • When your needs aren’t satisfied, you’re in emotional pain. And when they’re chronically unsatisfied due to playing the roles of people pleasing and neglecting yourself, at some point, possibly several points, you are guaranteed to act out or implode.
  • We’re presented with many opportunities to say no, but we don’t take them, and so sometimes, life has to get our attention in a big way.

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The Joy of Saying No by Natalie Lue book cover. Subtitle: A simple plan to stop people pleasing, reclaim boundaries, and say yes to the life you want.

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