Do you ever say yes when inside you want to say no? Do you sometimes feel resentful about giving too much, but don’t know how to stop yourself? Ever wonder why you have this struggle?
Some of the most common reasons are these: you are a naturally caring person with a big heart; you like to please others and make them happy; maybe you are the peacekeeper who tries to avoid conflict. But the most common reason is probably guilt – guilt at disappointing or upsetting others, and guilt about pleasing yourself.
And where does all of this come from? The roots often go right back to childhood, to messages telling you not to be selfish, and that making sacrifices for others was a good thing.
And of course, there is a truth to this. It is good to treat others well, to be kind and generous with your time and attention. The problem is when you do this too much, from an empty cup and get out of balance.
Signs of being in a deficit are when you start to feel resentful, sorry for yourself, tired and trapped. To rebalance the scale means learning to say no, and focusing instead on filling up your own tank with things that are good for you.
What many don’t realize is if you don’t do this, you may be putting your health at risk. The dangers of selfless behavior are outlined in an interesting book by Gabor Mate, a Canadian psychiatrist called “When The Body Says No, The Cost Of Hidden Stress”.
Mate looked at studies of links between stress and illness, and found that those who routinely put others before themselves and suppressed their own feelings, especially anger, were more likely to get a serious illness than those who didn’t.
So how do you say no to someone who is used to your saying yes? Here are 6 ideas to change the steps in this relationship dance.
- Delay to take time to think about it: “Can I get back to you on that”.
- Say no with a firm message: “I’m afraid I’ve got something already booked for that night”
- Be a broken record: If someone tries to persuade you to change your plans, keep repeating the same thing: “I’d love to but I can’t”.
- Talk about the pattern you see as if it’s your problem: “I’ve realized recently I am overtired because I say yes too often.
- “No is a full sentence”. You don’t have to give reasons or explanations, for why you want or don’t want something.
- Remember it’s OK to choose something you want to do, even if someone else is not happy with you.
Please share these tips if you have a friend who gives too much to others. And if you would like help to change a demanding relationship that is daunting to say no to, email Grace to set up a free 15 minute phone consult or text her at 1-250-885-6821