I’m a cool girl, ice cold for your own protection

A letter to Captain Awkward:

Hi, Captain!
I’m really suffering for my inability to say no. I’m pathologically afraid of refusing people or hurting them or letting them down, and so I keep ending up in situations where rather than being able to say ‘I am very uncomfortable with the direction this is going’ I pretend to be just as into it as they are. Actually, quite often I end up leading the way into something I know I don’t want to do, just because I can tell that’s the kind of person someone wants me to be (and I’m pretty much always right about their wants, afaict, but it does mean it’s definitely on me not them). I keep reminding myself it’s a problem and I need to stand my ground, but it’s like I’m trapped in my body while it goes through the motions. So by the time I manage to admit that I’m not ok with doing X, the person I was doing X with is almost always upset and confused because I seem super into it right up until I’m super not.
How do I break this habit, and learn to be true to what I want and am comfortable with, rather than dragging myself through this bullshit? The only advice I ever get boils down to ‘just don’t do it’ which is not the most helpful. How do you force yourself to stop something like this (which I’m 99% sure is a preemptive defence mechanism, like, ‘DON’T HURT ME, I’M SO NICE’)?
Thanks,
 Suffering From Advanced Cool Girl Syndrome (pronouns she/her)

You sound cool and likable!! There’s no possible way you could say no. It’s true that the responsibility of preventing others from someone feeling hurt or let down belongs to you. Negative feelings exist as an absurd defect of evolution. Until genetic engineering advances to the point where the emotions part of the brain can be removed before the second trimester, we’ll continue to thank you for being the only creature emotionally intelligent enough to bear the feelings burden.

Framing this inability as your own problem clouds things. Isn’t it other people who exist as incapable of being reasonable in accepting your autonomy? Encourage them by coddling their irrational feelings to the point where they one day realize they’re being unreasonable and just stop. Just as they evolved to be emotionally immature, you evolved to be a cool girl. Your wants and needs evolved to be less than theirs. Yes, evolution is merely a theory. However, this is science theory where facts back it up and large scale consensus between journals exists.

If that’s who they want you to become, then become it. Regardless of your wants. Since you didn’t say it out loud, they’ll surely guess that you’re not the person you lied about being. Not your fault. Evolution.

As long as you believe you’re trapped, you’ll be trapped. It’s like when you have a dream and you die in the dream and then you die in real life. That is why Darwin invented dreams.

If you admit thoughts and feelings too late, the person being confused and upset certainly has the Bad Person gene. Realizing your feelings and expressing them later than you absolutely are Supposed To — according to the textbook timeline — equals bad. Your timing must be the best. Otherwise it’s just misleading and wrong. Whatever you do, don’t treat your behavior as reasonable since it’s not. Take the hit.

Explain your own Bad Person genetics. Ask if they’re cool. And any feelings they have at this point win due to the timing. Being upset is a permanent condition and they will never get over it. No one gets over anything. Continue to relive it in your mind. Don’t allow people to have feelings that you obviously don’t approve of.

You’re nice. That’s enough to protect you from bad things. Live pretending to be someone you’re not. That’s better. If you could break this habit, you would have done it by now. The science textbook timing for fixing this problem says so.

Once you’ve said the wrong thing, you can’t go back and say things like “Oops, I changed my mind. I know it’s inconvenient to you. Wish I figured it out sooner. I understand if you feel disappointed.” They’ll never say something like “Well that’s reasonable. No big deal.” And what, they’ll move on with their lives as if it doesn’t all around you? That’s called Intelligent Design.