Updated: May 5, 2019
I think its telling that one of a child’s first words often times is “no.” Usually its “Dada” then its “no,” and once “no” starts it doesn’t stop for a long time! Everything is “no!” I’m rolling my eyes so hard right now remembering my son going through that stage. It was so annoying and anyone with a child would probably agree; but in hindsight I’m feeling like those little monsters are on to something. Yes I just referenced the kids as monsters; judge ya muva (in my Baltimore accent)!
Okay so let me explain this; all my life I had to fight LOL. No seriously, all my life I’ve been a people pleaser and with that came a lot of yeses when I really wanted to say no – which caused an internal fight. I have never considered myself to be a pushover, but maybe I was. I would say yes to doing things for the people I love and over-extend myself although I felt a burning desire to say no! Guilt and unexplained feelings of obligation outweighed that “no” I wanted so desperately to say. Knowing that an answer of “yes” would lead me to feeling tired, burned out, frustrated, irritated, annoyed, unappreciated, etc.; I STILL said yes. Every time I parted my lips to give an answer contrary to what I wanted, I regretted it internally.
I know I’m not the only person that has struggled with this and the Clinician in me can come up with many reasons of why this happens. I have literally “social worked” myself in processing why I would continuously take on other people’s “stuff” as if it was my responsibility to help or fix it. In knowing that reason is different for everyone and in every situation, I wont go too far into that. Rather I’ll go straight to the point – young children (toddlers) don’t take on other people’s “stuff”! Never-mind the fact that parents are telling them to do or not to do specific things to teach them and keep them safe. That’s not the point. The point is – they only allow what they feel their needs and desires are into their space. We once were the same way but somewhere between adolescents and now we lost it. Only when we learn to reconnect with our inner toddler in saying “no” will we became exposed to a whole world of new peace.
Know that you are in control of your space and what you allow into it. You have a choice and if you don’t believe me, reference your Bible. Throughout the word we are given instructions; the fact that God instructs us at all is the very evidence of free will. We can choose to follow the instructions of God or not. Furthermore, each choice made through free will has a consequence. Depending on the choice, that consequence will either feel good in the moment or not – it will ALWAYS be beneficial even if it doesn’t feel good, but that’s another post for another day. Anyway, you choose to allow other people’s “stuff” into your space and you choose the amount. You choose to become overwhelmed with said “stuff” or to just do what you can. Furthermore, if you feel anything negative when you say no it’s because you sis have made the choice to allow those feelings into your space. Now let me be clear, if you are saying no out of spite or with malicious intent then yeeeeeea, you probably will and should feel guilty because you have then released negative energy into the atmosphere; and since the law of attraction still applies to you, you are only attracting the same negativity you just released. Your “no” should never come from a place of negativity – even when that person has wronged you. Yep I said it and I’ll say it again – even when that person has wronged you. Each one of us is charged to let our light shine in dark places…let that marinate. Your no should only come from a place of protecting your energy and your space. I’ll put it like this, have you ever been extremely parched and tried to pour water into your glass from an empty pitcher? No, because it doesn’t make sense! You know not a drop of water is coming out of that pitcher into your glass to quench your relentless thirst! Well, the same principle applies to your energy, spirit, and mental & emotional space. You can’t give what you don’t have, and every time you try, you will surely deplete yourself even more. Saying “no” is protecting your space (pitcher) and giving it time to be filled again – so that you CAN pour something edifying into someone else.
Know that you sis have to be intentional about keeping your space clutter and “stuff-free.” You have to be intentional about creating what you need and giving only what you can. Furthermore, over-stand that guilt and fear in protecting your space is not yours unless you make the choice to own it by allowing it into your space! Get it? So how do you clean up your space and keep it clean? I’m glad you asked:
Identify who’s “stuff” you’re take on: Who is it that is constantly calling on you AND you are over-extending yourself to? It could be a partner, friend, family member, or even a co-worker. Remember that it’s ok to be there for people in need; but it becomes a problem when you are consistently OVER-EXTENDING yourself – which leads to depletion.
Identify what you’re taking on: The “what” is just as important as the “who.” What is it that you need to scale back on? Is it a financial burden that you have accepted in your attempt to save someone? Maybe it’s listening to complaints and receiving that form of negative energy from a friend that’s “going through.” It might even be the fact that you are the go-to person for a co-worker that always needs help with assignments. Whatever it is, it needs to be addressed – and you already know you that can’t address what hasn’t been identified.
Have the conversation: More likely than not, you’re giving your space away and over-extending to someone you actually care about; and you haven’t stopped because the guilt of not helping as well as the fear of hurting them plagues you. That relationship is important to you, as it should be. It’s important to talk to the people you love and let them know where you are mentally and emotionally. Let them know that you care about them AND you need to take time to care for yourself. Be honest in saying what you need – space from the complaints, more time to get your own work done, or less stress regarding finances. It’s imperative that you are honest, in a loving manner of course, as to be clear about number 4.
No new commitments: Clearly you already have too much on your plate; so you will not be accepting any new commitments that are not directly beneficial to you. I know this might sound selfish but its necessary. This might be difficult at first, but just like riding a bike, the more you practice – the easier it becomes. Know that this will also be harder with certain people, but you got this sis. Whenever a new commitment is presented to you, STOP, THINK, TAKE A DEEP BREATH, and respond with either “No thank you”, “I can’t”, “Not today Boop” or just plain old “nope.” Initially you’ll want to offer an explanation every time you say no, and that’s ok. Do what you need to get through the no. Eventually, you’ll be able to say no without explanation.
Wien yourself off: So you’re not accepting any new commitments but you still have a plate full of old ones. It’s time to start cutting them off one by one. Give yourself a time frame to end old commitments and communicate that with others. For example, you don’t want to completely stop being there for the friend that’s always calling you to complain about what’s going wrong in her life; but you also don’t want to be bogged down with her “stuff.” So when she calls, your line is “girl I love you, and I only have 5 minutes to talk about this.” STICK TO YOUR 5 MINUTES! You’ll find that eventually she will begin to respect your space in a different way as well.
‘No’ isn’t bad, wrong, or selfish when you are using it to take better care of yourself. Some people wont understand what you’re doing or why you’re doing it, and you have to learn to be okay with that. People may attempt to claim that you’re acting funny or that you have changed; and you have changed but it’s for your overall betterment and there’s NOTHING funny-acting about that sis. Give people time to adjust and remember that they are used to the old you, the “yes” you. Be gentle with them and most importantly be gentle with yourself. This is a step toward your much deserved peace sis, and I’m proud of you.
Love & Light