Brie Larson opens up about trying not to be a people pleaser


These past 18 months have affected people in profound ways. I’ve discovered things about myself. Really mind-blowing stuff, too. I guess that’s what happens when you get trapped with your own thoughts for such an extended time. Brie Larson sounds like she went through a similar self-discovery. One thing she realized was she needed to stop being such a people pleaser. Brie was a guest on Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard and she said that even before the lockdown, she realized she needed to curb her obsession with being perceived as nice and learn to confront situations when necessary. However, when Brie tried to describe where she is on that journey, it sounded like she’s still working more in theory than practice.

On learning to confront: The last year-and-a-half or two years, I feel like the universe has confronted me with the need to be able to confront [situations], and confront sooner, and just go, ‘Eh. I don’t like that.’ I’ll find that, especially with smaller things, I’ll just be like ‘It’s just not worth it.’ And now I’m like, you know what’s not worth it? Being uncomfortable and then having resentment and then being weird to somebody forever. That’s not it. Why not just get it over with and say, ‘[That’s] not my preference.’

On what made up her fear of confrontation: People please motivated mixed with ‘I must be wrong.’ I don’t want to look like a fool for saying something when I’m obviously wrong. It’s just my opinion. That can’t be right.

On accepting things before she’s ready: There’s the intellectual part of me that’s like, yeah of course, love everybody, I get it. But then, like, do I really feel that? Because I’ll find myself skipping ahead, like, Well, I know I’m wrong, I know I shouldn’t have this resentment or I know I shouldn’t feel this way so I’m just gonna act like I don’t. But it doesn’t really work. That’s just another way of us tricking ourselves into not confronting. We’re like, I’m a nice person so I’m just gonna be OK with them.

On making excuses not to confront people: One of the last times I had to confront somebody, I put it off for a year or maybe two because I had all these stories: Oh well they’re going through this, they’re going through that and I should be more caring, I should be more this. Then I had this moment where I was like, if we got rid of the stories, then you just confront something and you don’t have all the charge around it because the story isn’t there. So you can just say, ‘Hey this felt kinda s****y’ or ‘My feelings were hurt’ or ‘I might be wrong but this is what I got from our last phone call and it made me feel this way.’ Instead of [having] all this stuff come up that has nothing to do with the simplicity of ‘This is what I felt’ and being open to how they handle it, which sometimes isn’t good.

[From Yahoo!]

I’ve always liked Brie and I applaud anyone working on improving traits they wrestled with. I think it’s powerful she acknowledges she’s a people pleaser and that it has held her back in some ways. But I had trouble working through some of her answers. It sounds like she’s still worried about saying the wrong thing. Which is fine, it’s a process. We didn’t develop these traits overnight; we won’t redefine in that time either. Take for example Brie’s comments about making up ‘stories’ about people and why she shouldn’t confront them. Either the person really is “going through that” or you are making that excuse not to confront them. It’s not a story. But the other part of Brie’s comments about that are valuable. It took me a long time to say, “I was hurt by your comment,” in a calm way. Since I have, it’s revolutionized my communication.

The article quoted Brie talking about being nice several times. Being perceived as nice is a strong motivator. I’m not a nice person. I’m reliable and supportive. I can be fun and I’ll show up when I’m needed in almost every way, so I think I fit the definition of kind. But I’m not nice nor am I warm or fuzzy and that has isolated me more than anything else. People want nice, even if it’s phony. So I understand Brie’s struggle to give up people pleasing and stand up for herself. And I understand her struggle to discuss it. Everything starts with the decision to do it, so Brie’s already got the biggest hurdle under her belt.


Photo credit: Instagram and Avalon Red

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20 Responses to “Brie Larson opens up about trying not to be a people pleaser”

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  1. Oliphant says:

    Love her, love everything about her.

  2. Jezz says:

    Um, what’s with the jeans??

    • North of Boston says:

      Old Brie would see your comment, think she was wrong to wear them and go change into something else.

      New Brie would be all “I don’t wear these jeans to please you”

    • Bash says:

      What do you mean? The jeans are stylish and they’ve got a cool print on them. They look good on her! I can’t relate to the people pleasing, but I love the jeans.

      • Betsy says:

        Having lived through the 80s, I have to agree with Jezz that those jeans are off. They are scandalously ugly.

      • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

        Lmao!! The fact anyone is creating, making, selling, buying, posing and defending that outfit as stylish and/or current is amusing. But I suppose after a certain number of decades shit is bound to resurface? I just never thought I’d have to see those jeans again lol. I’m fairly certain I wore that outfit except my corset was black.

  3. DuchessL says:

    Personally, I am not a people pleaser, i don’t try to please or not to please. Whenever im in front of choice i need to make, i always ask myself “what do you want”, that is the moment I allow myself to clear my mind of whatever consequence it might be if/pros and cons, etc. I chose what i really prefer, and if it happens to please someone, im happy and if it doesn’t please someone, oh well. I think this might be the way to follow our hearts/listen to our instincts, and it has worked super well for me.

    • Dlc says:

      I people please to the point where when I ask myself what I want to do, I genuinely don’t know. I’m working on it tho.

    • JayNay says:

      it’s hard not to be people pleasing sometimes because people generally DO NOT like to be told no. “No, I can’t do this for you”, “I don’t feel like talking to you”, “this is actually not part of my job”… many of these kind of comments will get pushback from people. As a woman, you risk being labelled as “a bitch” or “difficult to work with” or whatever. And, some people will throw doubt on your judgement, like the classic “don’t be so uptight” or “it was just a joke”. So standing your ground can be hard, especially if you haven’t learned that before.
      Still, I agree 100 percent that it’s so much healthier and better for you to protect your own time and energy than it is to constantly say yes to things just to make others happy. Proud of Brie for taking those steps and talking about it.

      • MrsRobinson says:

        You’re absolutely right, and here’s the thing that I learned having a horrible boss: as a woman it’s easier not to be a people pleaser if you have some amount of either power, or enough money to walk away. Super cynical, unfortunately.

  4. Sierra says:

    I am a nice person but I am not a people pleaser.

    I am nice to everyone I meet but I don’t let them influence the way I talk and behave.

  5. OriginalLala says:

    Its taken me years to understand I’m a people pleaser and to work to un-learn this.

    I’m getting better at it but it’s a struggle. I’m a kind, empathetic person but I’m no longer “nice” for the sake of being nice. I’ve also gotten a lot better about boundaries and cutting toxic people out of my life – I had started this journey pre-Covid, but the pandemic really accelerated it for me.

  6. Vizia says:

    “Nice”, and especially “loving”, need definition. Sometimes the most loving thing to do (for yourself and others), the most genuinely well-intentioned and kind thing to do, is confront. Especially for people-pleasers and codependents, “nice” gets conflated with “I have to smile and agree”, as opposed to being really clear about your own feelings and the truth of a given situation, getting grounded in that, and then clearly stating that truth. In a lot of situations (not all!), niceness and confrontation/honesty are not mutually exclusive.

    • North of Boston says:

      I agree:

      Nice does not equal polite does not equal kind does not equal good (in any sense of the word) and none of them mean you just go along to get along or are not worthy of taking up space or air in the room.

      But somehow for many of us women, we’ve been trained, habitualized that they ARE all the same thing and should be life goals. It is really hard to learn how to go against that, even though it’s pretty important to, for many many reasons.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      This. Being silent to keep the peace or smiling and agreeing can sometimes be an unkind or harmful choice. We’re not always going to have the full picture. The precedence being set or the lessons taken away from our choosing that approach won’t always be good, healthy ones.

  7. salmonpuff says:

    I am working on this, and although Brie’s explanations were a bit of a word salad, they did make sense to me. I grew up with narcissists, and that really messed with my ability to even discern what I want or like. One of the first therapy homework lessons I had to do was list all the things I like — kinds of flowers, kinds of jewelry, kinds of cars, kinds of music, etc. — and it was HARD. Trying to know what I want in any given situation was a challenge because I was trained from birth to figure out what the other person wanted. It’s a long process to let go of people-pleasing, it takes diligent work and practice, and it’s often painful — like getting into shape after not exercising for a while.

  8. Buttercup says:

    Be kind whenever possible – it is always possible – Dalai Lama

  9. elle says:

    Did not recognizer her AT ALL from header pic. Slightly more recognizable in the ugly jeans photo, but it wouldn’t be hard to convince me it was somebody else.

    • North of Boston says:

      I think in the header pic the makeup, lighting and maybe some photo shops have altered how her upper cheek, under eye areas look, which takes away part of her distinctive look. Her eye crinkles are a big part of her expressive face IMO.

  10. lucy2 says:

    I’m looking forward to listening to this interview too, I really like Brie.
    For women especially, society wants to condition us to be people pleasers. The customer is always right, you should sacrifice for your kids, your family, your husband, don’t raise your voice, be thankful, be quiet. I can’t imagine how much of that she got, starting out as a young woman in her career. I’m glad for her that she’s finding herself and her strength.
    I’m sure she’s been busy with the Marvel stuff, but I look forward to her doing other movies too, she’s a fantastic actress.