"This above all, to thine own self be true"
~ William Shakespeare ~
Learning boundaries and how to say NO is a great place to start for those of us with the disease to please. It's not an easy thing to start doing though, when we've had a life long habit of automatically saying yes in order to please other people, mostly to control whether someone will 'like' us or not.
There is one time many moons ago that sticks out in my mind when I was first learning to say no. I remember how hard it was but I also remember how freeing and empowering it was. It also became easier and easier to say after that. At this particular time in my life, I had a lot on my plate, I was running my business and spinning hundred plates at once because that's how I thrived back then. It was my diversion and it somehow filled my need to be needed. I said yes to a Secretary position for the local Chamber of Commerce, which was something I would have said no too if I were being true to myself because I didn't have room to spin one more plate at the time. But who else would do it if I didn't? No one else wanted to. Soooo, Barb to the rescue!
I'm grateful now for the time I spent taking on that role. I did make a contribution and I liked the people I was working with, but mostly I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn how to be true to myself and say NO. I began to dread going to those meetings and doing the minutes and struggled for quite awhile because I knew I needed to change this for myself. I procrastinated speaking my truth because I thought everyone was going to be mad at me, and from my self importance, thought once again 'who will do it if I don't?'. Well guess what happened? I just stopped. Told them I was done (with my tail between my legs) and guess what else? The world didn't stop spinning, life went on, and they found someone else. Mostly what happened was that I freed myself and it was easier than I thought.
Sometimes it's something as simple as telling someone you would do something with them on Thursday, then Thursday comes and you're not feeling up to it, but you go anyway. Not because you want to but because you felt you had to. It's okay to speak our truth. 'Hey, I know I agreed to meet you on Thursday but I'm really not feeling up to it now, I have to look after myself today. Sorry if I messed up your day, I hope we can do it another time.'
To actually become aware of when we are saying 'yes' when we really want to say 'no' is the starting point. If you are a pleaser, it helps to stop for a minute before you automatically say yes, and check in with yourself for your truth. There is a difference between doing things from our hearts because we 'want' to and have the energy to, and doing things to 'please' because we want people to like us. The latter will have us sometimes feeling resentment and exhaustion, even though we are solely responsible for saying yes. It's just about knowing our truth then expressing that truth, regardless of anyone's reaction.
Having boundaries is necessary if we are looking after ourselves. Our boundaries say 'I will tolerate this' and 'I will not tolerate that'. We truly do teach others how to treat us. If we respect ourselves, we automatically demand and get respect from others. If we aim to get respect by pleasing others, it will backfire and we will ultimately end up exhausted, resentful and mad at ourselves in the end.
Here's a cool thing I've learned. There will always be someone who doesn't like us or who is mad at us. So to exhaust ourselves through pleasing is pointless. If we are honest with ourselves, we'll see that part of the reason we want everyone's approval is because we don't entirely approve of ourselves. The more we learn to approve of ourselves and like ourselves, the less we find ourselves saying yes when we would rather say no.
We are constantly being given opportunities to learn new ways of doing things and I'll bet if you're a pleaser and you're reading this, you'll notice quite a few opportunities surfacing over the next little while, where you can practice saying no when before you would have automatically said yes. Try it out :)
Peace, Love and It's Okay to say NO