THE PRACTICE: Acknowledge, Understand and Embrace why you say yes to things which overwhelm your wellbeing.
Do you struggle with saying no?
Do you overwhelm your life because you say yes to more than you have capacity for?
Do you wish it was easier to say no?
The first step to saying no is to understand and embrace with love and compassion what you are saying yes to when you say yes to something that you really wish you “could” say no to. (That’s a lot of yeses and noes in one sentence. Did you follow it?!) In doing so you can let go of the shame around these yeses and start moving towards saying no.
In column one of the table below I have listed thoughts I might have (written in their most basic form) when I say yes to something I really want to say no to. Column two lists the primary life giving needs which probably underlie my pressure to say yes.
Consider a time when you said yes to someone or something but really wanted to be able to say no. What did it feel like in your body when you said yes? What were the thoughts in your head that pushed you toward no? Write them down. Now look at your list of universal needs. What were the needs which motivated your yes?
These needs matter. Take a moment to embrace them, to love and acknowledge them. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You don’t! Your health matters. Your desire to be known matters. Your desire to support others matters. Of course you want to matter. Of course you want meaning and purpose. Belonging is a need we all have. Our survival depends on it. My point is - your desire to say yes, even when you are regretting the yes as you say it - makes sense. Of course you want to say yes.
The issue isn’t that you are a “people pleaser” or “weak” or “have no boundaries” or any of those other labels you or others put on your reluctant and persistent (and even destructive at times) yeses. Let go of these labels. Why? When you label yourself or buy into other peoples labels of you, you stick yourself into fast drying cement. You’ll always fulfill the label. Let go of those labels and instead understand and embrace your reluctant yes. Your compassion for your reluctant yes will empower you to find balance between your yeses and your noes (ps - you will read in the next little lesson that your noes are actually yeses themselves).
THE PRACTICE: When you hear yourself giving a yes which you have a sense you will later regret (or when you start to regret it) do the following:
Connect with your body. What does (did) it feel like (when you said yes)?
Connect with your thoughts. What thoughts were pressuring you to say yes?
Connect with your needs. What were the needs underlying your yes?
Close your eyes for a moment and…
Acknowledge and attend to your body. Acknowledge the discomfort and give it some love and compassion. This might look like a self hug. This might sound like “Ahhh, you’re feeling heavy. You’re feeling anxious and agitated. That’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. I’m so sorry you are feeling this way.” (You’ll notice I am talking to my body/myself as if talking to another person).
Acknowledge and attend to your needs. Acknowledge and embrace the needs which are driving (which drove) your yes. This might sound like “You really want these people to know how much you care. You want them to feel your love. You really want to be connected with these people.” (Again, I am talking to myself as if talking to another person).
Let me know how it goes!