“There were times that someone would call me to ask a favor and me not wanting to disappoint would automatically say “Sure, no problem.”
There are some lessons in this life that have been harder for me to than others. One such lesson was learning to say no. Why was it so difficult? Quite honestly I’m not sure why. I do know that I’ve always been a people pleaser, wanting my family and friends to be happy with me. I wanted them to know that they could come to me for help and that I’d always be in their corner. I wanted to be known as dependable and unselfish. I guess what I really wanted was acceptance.
There were times that someone would call me to ask a favor and me not wanting to disappoint would automatically say “Sure, no problem.” What they didn’t know was that as soon as I hung up the phone I all but cried because it was something that I really didn’t want to be bothered with. But like a good little soldier, I’d adjusted my attitude by the time I’d get to them and they never knew that anything was wrong. These same people would call me to ask for a loan and I’d say yes. They’d ask to borrow this, if they could have that and more often than not my answer was yes.
I had failed myself by not setting appropriate boundaries. I extended myself far beyond my comfort zone just so that people would love and accept me. But it was one person in particular that taught me the power of no. She was a relative of mine that would take advantage of Mother Mary if she thought she could get away with it. There was no limit to what she would ask. “Can I stay with you for a while?” “I’m in a tight, can you loan me some money?” “I know this is asking a lot, but will you cosign on me an apartment?” Clearly there was nothing that she wouldn’t ask and because of life’s circumstances, I tried to accommodate her. But whatever I did, whatever I gave, it was never enough. I swear if I gave her the moon she’d be mad because I didn’t also give her the stars. And despite everything, she talked about me, tried to belittle me and there was nothing I could do or give that would build a closer relationship between us. Once I realized that, the word no started rolling off of my tongue like water off of a ducks back.
Once I began to set boundaries and started saying no, my stress level plummeted. I no longer get anxious or upset because I’m stuck doing something that I just don’t want to do. I’ve also found that people have altered their behavior towards me. They no longer take me for granted, they accept that I am unable to honor all of their requests and the ridiculous requests have decreased tremendously. Now don’t get me wrong, I still want to be there for my family and friends and there are plenty of times that I say yes. But now people have learned how to treat me and what’s acceptable based on my altered behavior. What we’ve heard our whole lives is true, we have to teach people how to treat us, otherwise those busters will walk all over us. We all need to realize the power of no. No decreases our stress. No frees up time for what’s most important to us. No is empowering.
Here I am now at the ripe old age of 49 and I have learned that acceptance is free. Those who love me for who I am and not what I can do for them are the ones that have always accepted me. Their love, support, and friendship are free. They are my family regardless of what I give or do for them. And if I have nothing to give, they rally around me to see what they can offer me. That is what relationships should be, reciprocal. They should be based on mutual respect and not ones inability to say no.
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