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NaBloPoMo | Day 12 : The Power of Saying, “No.”

Saying, “No!” seems like it should be easy enough.

It’s two little letters.

It’s one simple word.

And while I have no problem saying, “No!” when it comes to my son, I’ve had difficulty saying, “No!” when it comes to other family members and sometimes even my friends.

By a show of hands, who else suffers from People Pleasing Syndrome?

I have been a People Pleaser all my life. But, it’s not because I am trying to get others to like me, or love me, or accept me, or any of that jazz. It’s mostly because I don’t like to let people down. And I don’t want to be seen as lazy, or uncaring, or totally egocentric.

I take a great deal of pride in being a good mother, a good daughter, a good sister, and a good friend. I am loyal, honest, and trustworthy. I am more than willing to do for others, and I am always happy to lend a helping hand, especially to those in need.

However, for some strange reason, I have a hard time accepting help from others. And I definitely have a hard time accepting when people do nice things for me without falling into a vicious cycle that goes a little something like this:

 

  1. Someone helps me and/or does something nice for me.
  2. I immediately feel obligated to return the favor.
  3. Eventually, that same someone will ask me to do something for them.
  4. I will agree even if I don’t really want to [see #2]. And then I feel resentful.
  5. Then, I will either back out at the last minute and feel incredibly guilty, or, I show up to said: place, party, event, secretly pissed off about it.
  6. And round and round we go.

 

But here’s the thing.

I don’t have the strength to please all the people, all the time, anymore.

And, quite frankly?

I don’t want to.

I’m exhausted.

 

 

After my 38th birthday, I decided enough was enough. And I believe I’ve had somewhat of an epiphany. I discovered the power of saying, “No!” And I had no idea just how liberating it would be.

Don’t get me wrong, people.

Apparently, old habits are tough to break.

The first few times I tried to say, “No!” I failed horribly, mostly because People Pleasers like myself do not like confrontation. Therefore, I have the tendency to give in just to avoid any type of argument or friction.

Luckily, after a few minor setbacks, I quickly came to the conclusion that I need to listen to my body rather than listening to thoughts inside my head, because I’ve been making myself sicker from doing too much. When I am over extended or over committed, I don’t get enough sleep. And then I become anxious and overwhelmed. Which inevitably depletes the last of my resources.  And in light of my new health issues, along with my other annoying medical conditions, that is the last thing I need to do.

Between autoimmune problems such as Crohn’s Disease, Severe Food Allergies, Hashimoto Thyroiditis, and Sjögren’s [SL: systemic lupus erythematosus] Syndrome, I have some serious limitations.

And because of those limitations  – I need to set boundaries.

 

 

 

But…

In order for me to change, I had to start asking myself, “Is this person, place, party, or event – really worth it? Is it worth risking my health? Is it worth my time? Or would I rather be doing something else? And is it worth the anxiety and pressure?”

[Kind of like Elaine, from Seinfeld, determining whether or not a man is Sponge Worthy.]

Then, I had to remind myself that I am entitled to ME time. And I had to remind myself how important it is for me to rest and rejuvenate so that I can be there when something really matters.

And that’s when I started looking at saying, “No!” as an opportunity to spend my time doing what I value in my life, rather than running myself ragged. Which has helped me to become assertive without being aggressive.

 

For instance…

When my girlfriend called asking me to come over and help organize the massive piles of summer clothes belonging to her four small children, but I already had three more doctors appointments that week, and my nephews’ 5th birthday party attend?

I said, “No.”

When another girlfriend called and asked me to help clean her bedroom, but I was way too tired and my knee was acting up?

I said, “No.”

When yet another girlfriend called and asked me to meet her out for some drinks, but I was already in my pajamas and waiting for my favorite television show to come on?

I said, “No.”

When a male friend invited me to see his band play in a bar, and on the very same night I was invited to a Disco dance at my favorite club, but I was still recovering from bronchitis and strep throat, and all I really wanted to do was watch funny movies with my brother?

I said, “No.”

When another friend of mine asked me to keep her company at work, but I didn’t want to spend my day that way, because I really wanted to write instead?

I said, “No.”

And when another blogger, whom I don’t know very well, specifically solicited me to promote a particular link, except that I don’t advertise links or other blogs when I am asked to, only when I want to, and I don’t comment on other people’s blogs to get comments on my own blog, and I don’t tweet just to get re-tweets.

I said, “No.”

And I’ve never felt better in my whole entire life.

Seriously.

And that’s why I am declaring this year, as my year, to be completely selfish, with no excuses, no explanations, and no apologies.

Period.

Because my health has to come first.

Otherwise I won’t have anything left to give anyone.

 

 

 

Are you a People Pleaser?
And if so, how does it affect your life?
What steps have you taken to correct the problem?
And do you ever still feel a little guilty when saying, “No?”

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  • V

    And I just got the courage to ask you for money and you’re going all no on me. Darn, late again. I hear you though, do what’s best for you. Sometime you do come first and no is the correct response. I’ll say no in a minute. My “no” is not putting time and effort in people who don’t put time and effort in me. I’m not a one way street. Like you, I’m f’ing done!

  • Lucy

    I think like you overtime I had to learn to say no and it hasn’t always been easy AND you are so right, it is necessary. Draining all our resources is very taxing on our system.

  • http://mommamiameaculpa.com meleahrebeccah

    YAY! Welcome to the team, Valerie!!

    I actually couldn’t believe it, when one of my girlfriends texted me:

    “Hey I know you’re really busy with doctors appointments and new medical diagnoses, but I am too overwhelmed to put away my kids summer clothes, can you come here and organize it for me?”

    I looked at my phone and that’s when it dawned on me, I really used to let people walk ALL OVER ME.
    And that’s why she didn’t even think twice about asking me.
    And I was all, FUCK NO.

    And now I can’t stop saying no.
    And I am MUCH happier as a result.

  • http://mommamiameaculpa.com meleahrebeccah

    So VERY necessary.

    And I am also over the “I hope they aren’t mad at me for saying no” thing too.

    If they are mad about it? Fuck ?em.
    They’ll get over it.

  • HeSaidHisTelephoneNumberWas911

    I’m glad you’ve found “NO” in your life, too bad it took your body smaking you upside your head to get your attention. It’s what I’ve said all along, you have to put yourself first. You can’t be there for anyone else if your not taking care of you. And it’s not being Selfish putting yourself first.

  • Allyson

    I am a people pleaser. And it used to take my time and energy remembering my schedule of being there for other people. But my Pete (boyfriend of seven years, father of my two children – probably not getting married) is not a people pleaser. He has helped me learn to say no, mostly by demanding all my available free time to please him. It works so well, because the guilt I feel from telling somebody else “No!” gets smothered by the comfort I feel pleasing Pete.

    It helps that Pete’s demands are things like: come play video games with me, or let’s sit in the nice weather on our lanai and have deep conversations, or just lay in bed with me a bit longer. It also helps that Pete’s best friend is my brother, so all the important requests (family) are still met with, “Yes!”

  • Lucy

    I know,it took me a little while to get past the “Are they mad?” Now, I don’t care BUT it took me a few times before I didn’t care. I swear I think it is age and like you I had some health issues that just didn’t give me a choice.

  • http://www.roses2rainbows.com/ Linda R.

    Taking care of your physical and emotional well being is never selfish. It is responsible. With all that you have going on, “No” is a critical word in your vocabulary. I’m glad you’ve learned you can’t please all the people all the time. Cheers!

  • Abby Normal

    I used to be more of a people pleaser, but I’ve learned from that mistake and now I enjoy saying “no”. Really enjoy it.

  • Small Town Mommy

    I am totally a people pleaser. I can’t stand confrontation and I do everything I can to avoid it. Including agreeing to things I don’t want to do.

  • http://mommamiameaculpa.com meleahrebeccah

    Thank you, Jimmy.

    And you’re 100% right.

    XOXOX

  • http://mommamiameaculpa.com meleahrebeccah

    Nice!!!

  • http://mommamiameaculpa.com meleahrebeccah

    Oh yes. It takes time and practice. But I am REALLY getting GOOD at saying, NO!

  • http://mommamiameaculpa.com meleahrebeccah

    Thank you for getting it, Linda!

    XOXO

  • http://mommamiameaculpa.com meleahrebeccah

    I’m ALMOST to the point where I LIKE saying no. Almost!

  • http://mommamiameaculpa.com meleahrebeccah

    Me too!

    Well, I am trying to rectify that with my whole saying NO thing.
    And it’s REALLY working out.

    Seriously.

    You should try it.

    Say it with me!

  • http://www.triloquist.net Ron

    Well, I could have written this post myself because I could hear ME in your words.

    Maybe it’s a Libra thing, but we all seem to share one thing in common…not letting others down.

    But like you, I learned that always saying yes to others, was saying no to myself.

    Also, always giving can be just as harmful as always taking.

    I’ve learned that there has to be a balance. And not because I do something for you, you need to do something for me. But more so that if there comes a time when I need help for something, I can’t be ashamed to ask for it because it allows you the opportunity to give as well.

    FAB post, girl!

  • HeSaidHisTelephoneNumberWas911

    ;-) XO

  • http://mommamiameaculpa.com meleahrebeccah

    AMEN, Ron! AMEN!

  • http://twitter.com/homeanduncool Home and Uncool

    Hand raised in the ’cause I just do care!

  • http://mommamiameaculpa.com meleahrebeccah

    :)

  • http://www.triloquist.net Ron

    :)
    X

  • shadowrun300

    I have a post very similar to this waiting in the works. I am very much a people pleaser, but I’m quite selfish as well, so I don’t always have a hard time saying NO. My biggest problem is that I avoid confrontation at all cost. Because of this people walk all over me. My hubby always tells me to “just say something…” but I CAN’T. The thought of me saying something stresses me out more than knowing I’m being taken advantage of. I’m 42….oh wait.. dang it, I just had a birthday… I’m 43 and I STILL avoid confrontation. I wonder if I’ll ever change.

  • http://mommamiameaculpa.com meleahrebeccah

    I am THE SAME EAXCT WAY.

    I literally burst into tears and I get a terrible case of diarrhea if I have to deal with ANY type of confrontation.

    UGH.

    But I am REALLY sick of being taken advantage of. And I am sick of being walked all over.

    I’m DONE.

    Guess I’ll be spending more time in the bathroom!
    :)

  • shadowrun300

    Maybe it gets easier with practice. You try it first. If it works for you. I MIGHT give it a try. Can’t promise, ’cause I’m a real wimp. ;)
    But I’m proud of you for goin’ for it! If you run N.J. outa toilet paper, let me know. I’ll send a supply.

  • http://mommamiameaculpa.com meleahrebeccah

    Ahahahhahah! Thanks, girl!

    And I will definitely let you know how it works out for me.
    And if I run out of TP!
    :)

  • http://selmainthecity.wordpress.com Selma

    You come first. ALWAYS. I am so proud of you for saying NO. Keep up the good work xxxx

  • http://mommamiameaculpa.com meleahrebeccah

    xoxox

  • http://www.facebook.com/countroshculla Roshan Menon

    It’s hard to say no. I had a hard time saying NO to a person who I only know on Twitter, when she asked me to do her a favour that could probably mean a big hassle for me. She is a sweet person and I wanted to help her out and would have done it if an issue would have not have been included. It was tough for me to say no but I thought to myself – “If I did it and the issue creeped up, I would have a hell of lot of trouble for no reason!” So, NO!
    You are right to say NO! You come first.

  • http://mommamiameaculpa.com meleahrebeccah

    Exactly.

  • agg79

    Good for you. I used to be a PP too. I tried to make nice with everyone because, secretly, I want to be liked/accepted and if I turn people down for their requests, they just might HATE me (shudder) and no one will friend me on Facebook and I’ll be all alone. I learned how to say no a while ago with my new job (Purchasing). There is always somebody out there trying to sell you crap or get you to do something. Sometimes you just have to say “hell no” and enjoy your own life.

  • http://mommamiameaculpa.com meleahrebeccah

    Exactly, Agg. Exactly.

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