Author of four books, Natalie Lue helps people pleasers, perfectionists and relationship strugglers overcome their emotional baggage so that they can live their best life.
In this episode we discuss:
Pressing Pause Episode 86 Ditching people-pleasing for calm and joy with Natalie Lue
Welcome to Pressing Pause. I’m Gabrielle Treanor, a mindset and positive psychology coach and writer, exploring how we can create, find and feel more calm, ease and joy in our daily lives.
Hi, and welcome to episode 86. Before we get into it I want to give you a heads-up that The Calm Mind Club is open for new members to join until Tuesday 26 October and then the doors will close until 2022. Is it just me or does it seem really weird that next year is 2022?!
Anyway, this is your last opportunity to join The Calm Mind Club and get access to the incredible wealth of guidance, support, resources, practical tools, all designed to empower you to overcome your overwhelm so you can feel more calm, in control, confident you can cope and happier.
When you want to take back control of your life rather than feeling like you’re here to fit in with everyone else. So that you can handle the inevitable uncertainties and curveballs that life chucks at you. So that you can stop people-pleasing, let go of comparison, and say no without guilt. So that you can have better boundaries, build your resilience, your confidence and self-trust.
You’ll find what you need and get support from me, without feeling like you need to be keeping up, in The Calm Mind Club. I could talk for hours about it but I have an interview to share with you so instead, why don’t you go to thecalmmindclub.com and take a look for yourself. All the info is there along with the different options to join and the bonus you’ll get as a new member. So, go to thecalmmindclub.com and join before doors close on Tuesday 26 October.
Now, my guest for this episode 86 is the author Natalie Lue. Natalie helps people pleasers, perfectionists and relationship strugglers overcome their emotional baggage so that they can live their best life. She’s the writer of BaggageReclaim.com, host of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions podcast, and author of four self-help books including Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl. Her next book, The Joy of Saying No will be published by HarperCollins in October 2022. Coincidentally Natalie was a guest expert in The Calm Mind Club so when you join you’ll be able to listen to our much more in-depth conversation there. In this podcast episode we look at how we can let go of people-pleasing and embrace more calm and joy in the process. I hope you enjoy it, here goes…
[00:00:00] Gabrielle: So, hi, Natalie. Thank you so much for joining me today.
[00:00:02] Natalie: Hello. Thank you for having me.
[00:00:05] Gabrielle: I wonder if you could just tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
[00:00:09] Natalie: My name is Natalie Lue and I have been writing about relationships, self-esteem for about 16, 17 years. And basically I help people pleasers, perfectionists, overthinkers, over givers and yes, the over responsible break those habits, which impact on their self-esteem, they impact on the types of relationships they get involved in so with emotionally unavailable people with sometimes abusive relationships as well. And it also has an impact on their career and just their general sense of fulfillment in life. So I help them to understand the emotional baggage behind these and also to declutter that emotional baggage and healing.
[00:00:54] Gabrielle: Such incredibly needed work, I would say. So in terms of people pleasing, being a responsible, all of that kind of stuff. Clearly, that’s going to get in the way of how much calm we feel and how much of the joy that we’re able to create and to feel in a day, because there’s a lot of stuff that’s tied up in that that’s going to get in the way.
So are there clear ways that you see that people’s calm is disturbed or suppressed by all that people pleasing, that finding it hard to say no to people?
[00:01:33] Natalie: Yeah, absolutely. When we are engaging in those habits of people pleasing, which extends itself into the perfectionism and the overthinking and so forth, we’re suppressing and repressing our needs, desires, expectations, feelings, and opinions, to try to gain attention, affection approval, love and validation, or to avoid conflict criticism, stress, disappointment, rejection loss and what we might term as abandonment. The thing is these are maladaptive habits, they’re habits that we learned in childhood as a way to cope and survive, but that become less and less effective once we’re in adulthood, because they’re not actually healthy means of moving through life. We’re trying to control the uncontrollable and we’re not actually being who we are.
What we’re actually doing is we’re managing underlying anxiety, like something that’s been a revelation to me, even in understanding myself in more recent years was realising, oh wow. Like I had a lot of anxiety. In fact, the reason I was for instance, overthinking the reason why I was trying to be perfect, the reason why I was worried about how I might look or what somebody might think and disapproval and approval was because I was anxious about something.
And the irony is that we, you know, we respond to all of this, this underlying anxiety by doing the people pleasing, but it actually creates even more anxiety. So it’s a vicious cycle.
[00:03:08] Gabrielle: Right. And when you’re anxious, you are not calm, you can’t access joy.
[00:03:13] Natalie: No, nope, no, no, no, no and the funny thing is, is that a lot of what we’re doing is we’re avoiding saying no. We’re avoiding, being more of who we really are. So owning our values, owning our needs, we avoid, expressing our limits, you know, even setting limits with ourselves. And we also end up exploiting us and allowing others to exploit us.
And what people don’t realise is that the more that you’re saying yes for the wrong reason, so, whether you’re saying it or showing it, the more you say yes, because you are afraid, because you are feeling obliged, because you are feeling guilty, because, because you’re angry is the less joy that you have.
You’re going to be way over your bandwidth, but you’re also doing things inauthentically as well. And so ironically, If we want to experience more calm, if we want to experience more joy, we need to learn how to say no.
[00:04:17] Gabrielle: And that feels like the total opposite, doesn’t it? Because when you’re, when you’re in a situation where you’re thinking, I don’t want to do the thing. I don’t know how to get out of it, or I don’t know how to say no to this person. I want to keep the peace. I don’t want to ruffle any feathers. I don’t want to cause a problem. Don’t want to start an argument. The idea of keeping the peace, keeping things calm for everybody else means you say yes when you want to say no, but in doing that, you’re completely bypassing your own calm, because then you’re stressing yourself out in the name of trying to keep calm.
[00:04:49] Natalie: Yes. Yes. Yes. Amen. And it’s like, we’re destroying our inner peace to try to control the uncontrollable and give ourselves a very false impression that we are keeping the peace for everybody else. How would we even know that, like we are not inside other people, like with all the best will in the world we can be nice as pie, do everything that everybody wants. Ask really nicely, tiptoe around. And people are still going to have their feelings and they’re going to do whatever it is. And actually they might still be annoyed with and won’t even have their own peace. So we are literally trying to Jedi mind trick people into something that we have no control over whatsoever.
[00:05:36] Gabrielle: That is such a good point. We think we’re keeping the peace, but how can we know that the other person actually has the calm that we think we’re going to give them by giving into whatever they want? Yeah. That is so valuable.
[00:05:48] Natalie: And of course we can’t know. And we think that calm means relieving That underlying anxiety and tension by saying yes. And what it is is that’s temporary relief. So for a split second, maybe even a few seconds, a few minutes, when I, ah, look, I pleased the other person. And then the panic, or the resentments or the overwhelm or the anxiety, whatever it is that sets in.
So this calm that we think that we’re creating this peace that we think we’re creating for everybody else is an illusion.
[00:06:26] Gabrielle: Right. So how do we, Natalie, go about creating genuine, calm as opposed to this illusion of calm?
[00:06:35] Natalie: The key to having genuine calm and peace in our life is that we are going to have to recognise how to be more of who we really are. Like, it’s not possible to have calm and joy and peace if we’re telling people what we think they want to hear. If we’re pretending to be something we’re not, if we’re saying yes when we really mean no. If we’re saying yes, without considering the meaning and consequences. If we’re constantly grappling with feelings of resentment and overwhelm and all the rest. And so we have to use those feelings, those tricky situations where we realised, oh geez, I think I actually said no or said yes, when I really should have said, no, we need to use these as sign posts of, oh, this is a clue about what I need.
This is a clear about who I am, what I want, but I actually, I would say as a first point of call is that if you want more calm and peace, I suggest you start figuring out what you need to say no to. I am working on a book at the moment called the joy of saying no. And it is about how I’ve realised that any time, realistically, when I’ve realised I am not happy with myself, I’m not happy with my life, I’m not happy with the situation. Uh, anytime I’m struggling, whatever feeling I’ve realised that the route to reclaiming myself on that to find my way back to me, to experiencing more joy, always started with no first. It was figuring out where have I overspent on yeses? Where do I need to say no? What am I delaying on here?
And the moments that I said the thing that I was afraid of addressing, you know, dealt with that is even if it didn’t necessarily happen immediately. And as humans, we’re obsessed with instant gratification, like, oh, well, okay. I can say no, but I want to immediately, you know, have balloons and streamers descend on me and have the happy outcome.
And it’s like, actually you say no, and it has a domino effect.Because gradually you start paving the way to being able to say yes to the things, to the relationships, to the opportunities that reflect more of who you really are. So that calm and peace also comes down to acknowledging how you really feel like the, the emotions that we experience when we’re feeling resentful and guilty and obliged and overwhelmed.
And, and did I say anxious already, but when we’re feeling powerless and helpless, these are notifications. That something is off with what we’ve been saying yes to. The notifications about what we need. And so if we can acknowledge, do you know what it’s okay for us to feel these, but we definitely, if we’re experiencing chronically, if they are regular occurrences in our life, this is telling us something about the content of our life. And unless we start making different choices and being really mindful of how we’re spending our yeses, our nos and our maybes the calm and the peace are not going to follow.
[00:09:44] Gabrielle: Hm. So to help people, I suppose, start to rationalise with themselves that they are able to, they are allowed to say no, you say that by them listening to their own needs, saying no when that’s what they really want to do or need to do. Not only are they going to help themselves find more calm and joy, could it also help the other people involved find more calm and joy do you think?
[00:10:15] Natalie: Well, yes, sort of, and I say sort of, because we have to be careful again of this. Oh, if I do this, then it will create this for others. So healthy boundaries are always a good thing. And healthy boundaries mean that sometimes we’re going to have to say what we consider to be a difficult no. Sometimes we’re going to have to be like, actually I’ve reached my limits on that one.
And sometimes we’re going to have to say no simply because we want to, it doesn’t always have to be, well, I can say no, but it has to be, my back is against the wall. And you know, it’s a dire straits thing. Sometimes we’re going to say no quite simply, because we don’t want to do whatever that thing is.
That’s the only way we can really truly find the truth of us and start making our way to move towards a more calm and more joy. Now the thing is, is if we don’t say yes authentically, we say it resentfully, fearfully, guiltily, with a hidden agenda and that leads to far more problems than if we just said no in the first place.
So learning to say yes, authentically means that we have more honest, intimate relationships and it is not possible to, to have the contentment, the calm, the joy that we’re chasing in life if we’re not allowing for intimacy, if we’re avoiding honesty. And there’s no such thing as intimacy if you’re not willing to risk the possibility of conflict, if you’re not willing to be vulnerable. I’m not saying do the equivalent of running into oncoming traffic, but it is stop trying to manage other people’s feelings and manage other people’s behaviour with your own pleasing and start focusing on managing your own feelings and behaviour with your own actions and thinking.
[00:12:09] Gabrielle: I am nodding along. Because I think that is such an important point that you saying yes because you think that’s a helpful thing to the other person can create so much more difficulty and confusion because it comes from a place of resentment and then there can be a whole miscommunication and disconnectedness all coming from you trying to make everything lovely by doing something that doesn’t feel lovely for you.
And it’s, yeah, it just all gets into such a tangle, doesn’t it? So how do you personally, as somebody who spends a lot of time helping others with this, how do you find calm in your day?
[00:12:48] Natalie: Oh, well, I do like a nice little walk outside, especially if, like, for instance, yesterday I was sorting out some stuff. And when I paused, I noticed that there’s anxiety. Feelings were there even though for all intents and purposes, nothing terrible was happening. I think sometimes the stress, the anxiety pops up and it doesn’t necessarily mean something bad is happening, but it’s almost like everybody’s going, oh my God, like, what the hell are you doing type of thing. And I was like, you know what, I’m going to go and get a change of scenery. And so I went off, it did an errand and I came back and I noticed I was still kind of feeling that way. I had my lunch and I think I did the New York times Sudoku in the app. And it was, it was only about six hours later when I realized I completely forgotten that I had been feeling that anxiety and sort of that lack of calm for a bit.
Cause I just got really immersed in taking care of myself, sort of getting grounded and connected with myself. I also find that allowing myself to be in flow with something creatively. So sometimes the simple part of that can be that reading actually brings me a lot of calm. Like I don’t ever remember not being able to read because I was a very early reader so I have no memory really of not being able to read, but that also seems to regulate and bring a level of calm, but as does making like drawing or writing and ironically actually dancing throwing myself around for a bit actually does also give some calm as well.
[00:14:30] Gabrielle: I tell you what, seeing you dance on instagram gives me a lot of joy and a lot of other people joy I’m pretty sure.
[00:14:38] Natalie: Dancing does give me so much joy that it’s, it’s connect you with your inner child, but I just also think it is connected to that really joyful part of you that doesn’t think too much.
[00:14:49] Gabrielle: Mm. So if you going to write yourself some joy, homework, you want to, bring more joy into your life, what would you, what would, what would you set yourself?
[00:15:00] Natalie: Uh, slow down, say, no, if you need to this to whatever it might be, I tend to prescribe myself some early nights as well. Belly laughs. Dancing. Indulge in, in making connects with, you know, loved ones. Some of my most joyful moments, even if I’ve had, you know, if, if the kids are getting on my nerves, you know, cause of the mess they leave around the house or whatever, you sit down with them to dinner, you get talking about something and you’re howling laughing or you’re getting into some ridiculous discussion.
I realised that you know, I prescribed myself to sit down, you know, hang out with family, even if you’re not really saying or doing anything. That’s that connection, that intimacy of that as well. And I think the slowing down for me thing is the most, that is the big part of that.
Cause I, I noticed that if I’m doing too much, if it feels like I’m going a little bit too fast on myself, even if I’m doing things for all intents and purposes would normally make me feel good, it seems to take the edge off that a bit. So just slowing down and being a bit more present.
[00:16:07] Gabrielle: Hmm. I think that’s gonna be really helpful to people because there’s not, we’re not talking about anything super complicated here.
[00:16:13] Natalie: No, not at all. I mean, I think people often when they’re like, Oh, what would be your joy prescription? And like, oh, okay, so what money do I spend to go somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good massage, I’m fond of a candle myself, but honestly, your path to joy is often way more simple, which is the slowing down.
And I actually learned a lot of that from when my father passed away and I took time off from work. And I think it was about, I don’t know, seven, eight weeks. And then I tried to go back and I didn’t fit into my old life. And I find it very frustrating, you know, cause I like to control everything and I said, what’s going on? What’s going on? And I was really struggling. I was like, why can’t I do all the things that I used to do? And over time I was like right, I have to let go of certain things. And I realized I needed to actually go back to having some time off from work, to having a really, really loose schedule. And so I stopped the podcast at that time.
I let go of some freelancers that were working for me. I walked away from certain projects and I slowed right down. And I discovered actually that a lot of the things that I used to think I needed to do before that I really did not need to do. Like, I didn’t have to be doing all the things, you know, all the things they tell you that you need to do when you’re running an online business and all that.
And in the end business wise, I slowed down for probably about 18 months, two years. That wasn’t the plan. It was also my most profitable time. And also once I started to slow down, I experienced so much joy and you’re not expecting that when you’re grieving the loss of your father. Because I slowed right down I allowed myself to be curious. I allowed myself to feel my feelings. I noticed who I was and I found myself laughing and just take joy in the simple things. Something I wouldn’t necessarily have maybe discovered if I had forced myself to be going at a, at a speed that my life, my body couldn’t.
[00:18:16] Gabrielle: That is so valuable, Natalie, thank you for sharing that. I’m sure that’s going to resonate with a lot of people. Yeah. Thank you. So my final question for you is what are you going to do today to give yourself a moment of calm and joy?
[00:18:31] Natalie: Ooh, that’s a great question. So I think that I am probably going to have a little bit of a rave around my kitchen later. I’ve been feeling a little bit sluggish today. I don’t know if it’s the weather or I don’t even know what that might be about, but I’ve been already thinking, do you know what I’m going to have to a little dance around my kitchen later followed by an early night.
[00:18:55] Gabrielle: That sounds brilliant. So where can listeners find and connect with you?
[00:19:01] Natalie: The best place to find out everything I’m doing, like my books and I’ve got my courses, the podcast, everything is at baggagereclaim.co.uk or.com. And I’m on Instagram, socially that’s the best place to get ahold of me. And that’s @natlue that’s N A T L U E. And I feel like I’m forgetting something.
I said the website I’ve said instagram.
[00:19:24] Gabrielle: Podcast?
[00:19:25] Natalie: Oh, yeah, my podcast, the baggage reclaim sessions, and that is on all podcast players, but you can actually find a full list of episodes at baggagereclaim.co.uk forward slash podcast.
[00:19:39] Gabrielle: Brilliant. Wonderful. Thank you so much for talking with me today, Natalie.
[00:19:42] Natalie: Oh, thank you so much for having me, Gabrielle.
I really enjoyed talking with Natalie and I hope you enjoyed our conversation too. You’ll find show notes and the transcript (all the episodes are transcribed) at gabrielletreanor.com/podcast and if there’s anyone who you think would find this episode 86 useful please do share tell them about it.
As I said at the start, there is a much more in-depth conversation with Natalie in The Calm Mind Club and you’ll find lots in there to help you tackle your people-pleasing. Doors close Tuesday 26 October and won’t reopen until 2022 so if you’re thinking the Club could be useful for you go to thecalmmindclub.com and find out all about it now.
Thanks again for listening, until next time, lovely people.
Throughout this website and my work when I refer to women I include people identifying as women.
If you have, or think you may have, a mental health problem that requires professional diagnosis or treatment, please consult a mental health care professional and your GP.
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