Your Challenge Today:
Develop the ability to say NO gracefully … no guilt, no regrets.
By Bernadette Kathryn, LMT, IHLC
Self-respect is the fruit of discipline;
the sense of dignity grows
with the ability to say no to oneself.
~ Abraham Joshua Heschel
Are you a chronic people pleaser? Learning to say “NO” gracefully without guilt or regrets is a valuable skill to learn. We all encounter requests, offers and even strong suggestions from time to time that we might not accept yet, we somehow allow ourselves to be pressured into something that is not necessarily good for us. We feel guilty, we feel urged to participate, and we think a broad sense of obligation to please everyone which is ultimately a no-win situation.
These chronic people pleasing behaviors are an unfortunate habit that we may have acquired growing up. In my house, it was “honor thy mother and thy father”… “do as I say, not as I do.” There was no room for personal preferences, the adults ruled and as a child, my preferences were not considered, so the people pleasing personality was born. A strong sense of obligation looms heavy over my head, and I feel like I have to do everything that is asked of me because I was not allowed the right to say “no” as a child and I didn’t make the mental transition to realize the fact that I am no longer a child. Wow, revelation ~ I am an adult, and I have the right to say “no” when I need or want to, but it still feels wrong.
The truth is that my needs and desires are as critical as anyone else’s and I honestly need to honor that fact, respect myself and my needs as an individual. This realization was a game changer for me and incredibly liberating. Then I had to learn to say “no” to myself ~ that’s not fun. Learning to temper, I want with my needs was probably more of a struggle, a real lesson in growing up. Upon realizing that I could not have everything that I wanted, which was pretty easy until it came to the subject of food. Learning that choosing my food and drink for the express purposes of my health was more of a challenge. I had always operated very much like a child in this arena and chose my food strictly by taste, which is not exactly a good barometer.
I have evolved a bit since that time and learned to cook so that I could have the food I wanted and know without a doubt that it would be good for me too, bonus! It is possible; healthy food can taste good. It is always a little harder to have the ability to say no when out in social situations, especially when you are a foodie like me. I want to eat everything and drink with everyone, but way back in my head I know it’s not in my best interest. So I have had to develop strategies to take care of myself and allow me the pleasure of socializing with my friends too.
How do you handle the sometimes awkward situations that come up and you want to run the other way? How do you honor yourself and say ‘no’ gracefully, without guilt or regret? How do you keep yourself in check when you want something that you know is not really on the plan and might derail your goals?
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my feedback is similar Pamela. i wonder what is going on with this person that they are asking something of me that i find difficult to say yes to. instead of immediately saying yes or no i try to understand the request first. sometimes the request is coming from a need unrelated to the request. if i can figure out the true need then perhaps i can say yes to the need if not the exact request. a win win situation.
I find it most helpful to reverse roles with the person who is asking for something I have to deny; that way I can validate what they want and still say “no”, sorry I can’t do this now.
That’s really good feedback Pamela – thank you for sharing, I am going to remember this!