The Downside to People Pleasing in Sobriety

In our current day of age, everybody wants to be accepted and be one of the “cool kids”- to a certain extent. For some, cool is a word that is completely unfamiliar. Really it’s validation of others that we crave. To be liked and even just be acknowledged is really what most of us desire at the end of the day. For most, I believe we can agree that it usually feels good to be praised and to be held in some form or high regard. To have somebody be proud of us and know we are looked upon with purpose is a very comforting feeling. We all strive for comfort in some way or another.

However, there’s a fine line to be set between people pleasing and being Mr. Nice Guy. There needs to be the separation of doing something on our own accord or doing something out of the societal pressures we face regularly. A common fear for most is disappointing or receiving the disapproval of somebody whose opinion matters to us most. Setting boundaries can be a tough thing for anybody, especially setting your own people pleasing terms and having to actually say “no” to somebody in recovery. It takes practice, but it’s better than becoming a doormat.

Drawing Your Line in the Sand

A large portion of addicts and alcoholics enter recovery and have poor self-esteem. So naturally, we enter the rooms of Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous and we leech onto somebody who will guide us and show us that we are not alone. For most of us, when in this position, the last thing we would ever dream of doing is upsetting those that we’re trying to fit in with still. Seeking their approval feels like a necessity to continue staying sober for some. For me, this meant people pleasing and doing things that my heart wasn’t in. This was allowing myself to be put in many situations that were bumpy, to say the least. Situations that tested my sobriety and that about pushed me back in the direction of the devilish chemicals calling my name.

When push comes to shove, staying authentic is a much more admirable characteristic. Being able to say “no” and standing your ground in early sobriety is a muscle that must be practiced. This strength will save us from ourselves and the alcoholic thinking that condones the shady places we wind up in. We forget that we got clean and entered this recovery thing for ourselves- not the selfish benefit of others.

take care of yourself

Staying True to You

In recovery and early sobriety, establishing a new foundation of sorts is crucial. Saying no in sobriety to somebody can be nerve racking because nobody really likes to be told no. We build this up in our head as something that can make or break us. Fortunately for us, recovery is not like high school and shouldn’t ever be looked at as “what I have to do to fit in.” We fabricate people pleasing as our number one go-to in avoidance of ourselves. To put it bluntly, we love the feeling we get from kissing a little bit of ass and often times end up chasing it.  

As human beings, especially as addicts and alcoholics, we always want more. We tend to want to push life to its limits and then question why it decided to bite back. At some point down the road, we stop listening to reason and any logical gumption. Our alcoholic thinking takes us and wraps us up in fear while simultaneously preventing us from realizing the other problems the people pleasing is stirring up for us. 99% of the time we are professionals at rationalizing our actions and the alcoholic thought processes that project on the walls of our best thinking. Making excuses becomes more than just a habit and before you know it, we start justifying relapses. The whole point of this recovery thing is to stay clean and avoid the miserable existence we once lived- right? Well, there are a number of things that we end up doing as we start to open the kiss ass doors- and for some reason, we never realize it until were already in it. Some things include but are not limited to

  •         Always being pressed for time or late
  •         Avoiding conflict and confrontation
  •         Often feeling taken advantage of
  •         Fear that people may stop liking you
  •         Afraid of being viewed at as selfish or any negative manner

These are just a few of the insecurities we project onto other dues to our obsessive human satisfying ways.

Watch Your Motives

Another downside to people pleasing is how it can be abused. Time and time again you will see addicts doing this brown-nosing dance of sorts to persuade somebody into a direction that benefits them. Class A manipulation if you will. That’s the thing though- just because all the substances are gone doesn’t mean that a life of integrity is necessarily there. When it comes to our alcoholism, these are the things that we must work on to improve in our process. Learning to be self-reliant and seeing others as actual human lives- not just as people that are objects or toys for your pleasing, is a step in the right direction. It’s really as simple as putting your foot down and not budging for others because of false promises and snake-like smiles.

In the end, it’s about standing up to others and yourself to create a better life. If we allow people to walk all over us and take advantage, then we might as well have not gotten clean. The drugs and booze walked all over us for years and we were just people pleasing the chemicals as they walked in and out of this abusive relationship, we couldn’t say no to. Learning to be assertive and speak your mind is a quality asset to have. It’s better to have been completely honest and embarrass yourself than to create a web of people pleasing fibs that ultimately draw to your demise. Some situations are just not that simple to walk away from, and once you get stuck- it’s just going to get uglier. Remember- “there are no dues or fees for A.A. membership.” Take care of self first and the rest will follow.

Please Yourself

Being trapped in active addiction is a life consisting of bad choices and finding yourself in repeated situations of personal sacrifice. It gets old while being uncomfortable almost becomes the norm. We all deserve to be free from the alcoholic bind that causes us to step so blindly. If you or a loved one has been struggling with getting a firm grasp on sobriety and need detoxification, please call 877-978-3125 or visit Our teams of specialists are waiting by to help figure out what options are best for sending your life is a comfortable direction that you can proudly stand behind.


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