top of page
  • Michael Philp

Buy now pay later

Avoidance of anxiety and discomfort is the high interest credit you don't want to take

People pleasing is driven from either a fear of rejection (submissiveness) or guilt of being a bad person (self-sacrifice). Regardless of what is driving the need to please others, people pleasers often twist themselves inside-out in order to avoid discomfort. Whether it is making promises they can't keep, taking on too much, or constantly going out of their way, the result is often the same - resentment, regret, overwhelm, and a lack of deep, mutual connection with others. People pleasers are taking out loans that their future selves will regret.


Let's start with people pleasing in order to avoid rejection - for clarity I will refer to this as submissive pleasers. These submissive pleasers are fearful that if they speak up, have an opinion, or don't agree with their friends, their friends will immediately reject them and the friendship will end. A request comes in from a friend that fills the submissive pleaser with anxiety. This feeling is incredibly unpleasant and unwanted. In order to get rid of it, the submissive pleaser agrees to the request, even if they don't want to or they know in advance that agreeing will create another problem, such as a conflict in their diaries with another event. The submissive pleaser agrees because the anxiety of saying no (and potential rejection) goes away. They take out the pay-day loan. Problem solved.....for now. But with everyday pay-day lender, the repayment is due at the end of the month with interest. Now the submissive pleaser has two conflicting arrangements. Maybe they've agreed to attend two birthday parties on the same night. They can't back out of the first party they agreed to, as that would seem rude, and definitely risk rejection. And now they've agreed to attend the second friend's party, and so they definitely can't go back on what they've agreed to. The payment is due - anxiety and discomfort is increasing.

What tends to happen? The submissive pleaser either attends both - leaving early from one and arriving late for another - and disappoints both friends, or they drop out last minute from one of the parties, a vague excuse posted in the event page on Facebook that everyone knows is a lie. In the end, the submissive pleaser still disappoints one of their friends, and probably in a worse manner than if they had had the courage to say at the start "I'm sorry, I've already got another event that night". As with any high interest loan, it's difficult to pay off the principal. The interest always accumulates.

Self-sacrifice Pleaser

What about the self-sacrifice pleaser? The self-sacrifice pleaser is incredibly helpful. They go out of their way to help others. They may even see this is as part of their identity - "I'm a good person. I'm a helpful person". And let's be clear - we need helpful people in the world. But self-sacrifice pleasers have no boundaries. They run themselves into the ground in order to avoid the discomfort of guilt - guilt that if they don't help they are a bad person. They justify this to themselves - "I didn't have anything important on, I could do more". How does the pay-day lender collect in this situation? Usually through resentment or passive-aggressive behaviours. The self-sacrifice pleaser does so much for others that it often becomes expected of them. At work, they are often given the tasks that no-one else wants. They chair the committees, stay back late on a Friday to complete tasks everyone else has left, and are usually the first to cave when the boss asks for a volunteer. Socially, they're running the bake sale at the P&C, on the committee at the local t-ball club, and taking phone calls from their friends who just want to dump their emotional baggage on them. There is an imbalance in relationships - the self-sacrifice pleaser finds it hard to ask for help, but also resents that no-one offers. Avoidance of guilt comes with interest - dissatisfaction and resentment, and maybe even burnout. At work perhaps the self-sacrifice pleaser acts in a passive-aggressive manner in meetings to express their dissatisfaction. Socially, they "go to ground", often withdrawing from friends in order to recuperate from the burnout. The payment is always due at the end of the month.

Pay now, enjoy later

As with any high-interest credit, the solution is to not take the loan in the first place. It's best not to take the "pay nothing for 24 months" credit to get the lounge suite you want because the credit company gets their money no matter what. You're paying for "service fees" or late payments of a day, despite being thousands ahead. You are better served delaying your gratification and saving up. The same goes for managing people pleasing schemas. By avoiding discomfort now, you often end up paying for it later, with interest. It's far better to have an uncomfortable discussion now, than to disappoint someone later. However, it's far easier to say than do. It requires understanding the origins of these behaviours (see my other blog posts) and a willingness to try and make room for the discomfort, even though it is not wanted and is unpleasant. If you can understand which type of people pleaser you are (submissive or self-sacrifice) you can start to understand what the pain is that you are trying to avoid, and make more informed choices. Will my friend really reject me if I say no to a coffee or will they just be a little disappointed? Am I really a bad person if I say I can't help out on that day?

It's not easy, but your future self will be far better off without that debt.


bottom of page