As a recovering people pleaser, I get how hard it is to say ‘no’ to people (and to be totally transparent here; it’s still something I’m working on). Especially when you feel that ‘no’ needs to be followed up with a reason/excuse, whether it’s legitimate or not, whenever it becomes necessary to say ‘no’ to someone it brings up all kinds of uncomfortable feelings for us people pleasers.
Maybe you’re now on a different path to the people you used to hang out with and you no longer feel aligned with the things that they like to do (which you also used to like doing, but no longer enjoy). Or maybe you constantly take on more than you can handle at work because you can’t bring yourself to say no to your boss. Whatever your ‘no’ is … know this… in saying yes to everyone else, you’re saying no to yourself.
By constantly saying no to yourself, you are letting other people make decisions about your life for you.
I recently came across ‘The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying’ a book by Bronnie Ware, who for several years found herself working in palliative care and having regular conversations with those nearing the end of their life.
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”
That was the number 1 regret of her patients.
I can honestly relate to this on so many levels. Thankfully I’m still healthy enough to actually do something about it and I don’t know about you, but I do not want to grow old and look back at my life with this regret.
Maybe you used to spend your Saturday nights out drinking and partying the night away, but now you can’t think of anything worse. Now you much prefer your nights in, wearing your comfy pyjamas and drinking herbal tea, maybe you just enjoy time on your own, maybe you now like early mornings rather than late nights or adventure days in nature over beer gardens and pubs. Yet you worry that the people you used to hang out with will now think you’ve ‘changed’ and that you’re boring. This thought used to bother me… A LOT!
But guess what, it is 100% okay to change, in fact if we aren’t changing, we aren’t growing and I believe that growth is SO important for us human beings.
The good news is, the more I have started to say no to the things I don’t want to do, little by little, it is getting easier and the more I’m learning not to take responsibility for how other people respond and react to my ‘no’ (because that’s on them!) again, the easier it gets.
And, in doing this, I’ve actually started to attract more people into my life who are aligned with the way I want to live it. It turns out there are more of us pyjama wearing, non-drinking, early morning, adventure lovers out there than you realise!
Try thinking of your time and energy as a financial transaction, you only have so much to spend for the week, the more your spending it on doing things you don’t actually want to do, the more you’re going into your energetic overdraft and that my friends is going to lead to burnout. But the more you say yes to the things you actually want to do, the things that light you up and replenish your energy the more you increase your balance, and this is so necessary. You are no good to anyone if you’re giving from an empty cup, so fill that cup of yours right up and give to others from the overflow!
If you aren’t sure how to decide whether you even want to do something because you’ve allowed others to make decisions about your life for so long now that you don’t even know what you really like, try dropping into your body. What I mean by this is, take a quiet moment, close your eyes, take a breath. When you think about the thing you’re being asked to do, does your body feel tense? Do you feel uneasy or anxious? When you think instead about not doing it, do your shoulders drop? Does your belly relax and your breathing slow?… your body always holds the answers, you just need to listen.
Start today, what is something you can say no to?
Just because you aren’t ‘living it up’ on Facebook or Instagram doesn’t mean you aren’t enjoying yourself and living your life the way you decide to live it. Pyjama nights all the way!