It was only last year before I learned to say no. In my career, I was often overwhelmed by people’s view of me as a benevolent caregiver. I would spend a lot of energy trying to help people who in hindsight never truly wanted to help themselves first.
I was so busy trying to give all that everyone else needed me to offer, that I lost touch with what I had a genuine desire to give. I’d been consumed by the disease to please – and often the word yes would be out of my mouth before I even knew it.
I know exactly where the disease came from. Having grown up in a large family where we had to literally vie for attention also meant a history of not being able to set boundaries.
Once your personal boundaries have been violated as a child, it’s difficult to regain the courage to stop people from stepping on you. You fear being rejected for who you really are. So for years, I spent my life giving everything I could to almost anyone who asked.
I was running myself ragged trying to fulfill other people’s expectations of what I should do and who I should be.
What cured me was understanding the principle of intention.
To quote Gary Zukav, from his book The Seat of the Soul, “Every action, thought, and feeling is motivated by an intention, and that intention is a cause that exists as one with an effect. If we participate in the cause that exists as one with effect. In this profound way, we are held responsible for our every action, thought and feeling, which is to say, for our every intention..”
I started to examine the intention behind my saying yes when I really mean no. I was saying yes so people wouldn’t be angry with me, so they would think I was a nice person. My intention was to make people feel I was the only one they could call on, count on, last minute, no matter what. And that was exactly what my experiences reflected – a barrage of requests in every aspect of my life.
Never will I do anything for anyone that I do not feel directly from my heart.
I will not attend a meeting, make a phone call, write a personal statement or participate in any activity in which every fiber of my being does not resound yes. I will act with the intent to be true to myself.
Before you say yes to anyone, ask yourself: What is my truest intention? It should come from the purest part of you, not from your head. If you have to ask for advice, give yourself time to let a yes or no resound within you. When it’s right, your whole body feels it.
I know for sure that I had to first get clear about who I was before I could beat the disease to please. When I accepted that I was a decent, kind, and giving person – whether I said yes or no – I no longer had anything to prove.
I was once afraid of people saying, “Who does she think she is?” Now I have the courage to stand and say, “This is who I am”.
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*Excerpt adapted from What I know for sure