You have to decide what your highest
priorities are and have the courage-
pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologettically,
to say "NO" to other things. And the way you
do that is by having a bigger "YES!"
-Stephen R. Covey
Since I was little I have been a people-pleaser. It has always felt good to be positive, to help others and to go outside of myself unselfishly. I wanted to give rather than receive.
On the other hand, I also quickly learned that if you took care of others, even at the expense of what might be good for you, that there would sometimes be fewer conflicts and fewer feathers ruffled. As I looked around, I had countless role-models of "good girls," many of whom were positive and other-centered. I also saw other women who sacrificed themselves to keep the peace. The latter said "YES!" to everything and everybody, even when it wasn't healthy for them to do so.
Some of them went so far as to sacrifice their dreams, their hearts and even their self esteems.
When awful things happened, they kept quiet. When they were verbally or physically abused, they couldn't imagine that people would believe them over the abuser. When their plates were over-full and they were stressed to the max, they said "yes!" because they didn't want to let God or anyone else down. To keep their own lives from unraveling. Even when the unspeakable happened in their lives, they learned to put on a "all is fine" exterior.
That's just how it was. Back then. With some of the women that I looked up to.
They were a bit like Ariel in Walt Disney's The Little Mermaid. She gave up being a mermaid, and even gave up her voice, to get Prince Charming. Ariel, an unsuspecting role model for young girls, had unhealthy personal boundaries.
And truthfully, having healthy boundaries has, at times, been a HUGE struggle for me as well.
After all I learned that it wasn't considered polite to say "no", not even say "no, thank you." It wasn't friendly or kind or lady-like or Christian. Having personal boundaries, and asserting them at church or home or work, might come across as too selfish, bold or unfeminine. After all, how could I say "no thanks" when asked to be on another church committee. On top of that, even some of the Christian community, the churches I attended, talked about women being "submissive" to our husbands. Submissive in general. Real women gave and gave and gave. Not so much to themselves, but almost always to others. Gave out and gave in.
Now please don't misunderstand me here. I am not suggesting we should all be on a journey of selfishness where we only take care of ourselves. I am not suggesting that at all. However, I am posing a question and here it is:
Why do I often feel so guilty when I say "no!"?
Even when I say it politely, and the circumstances warrant a no, if I say "no" I feel like I have let someone down.
Does anyone else feel like that besides me? Can I hear an "Amen!" please?
I'm not sure when I first read the book -
Boundaries- When to Say YES, When to Say NO- to Take Control of Your Life.
This life-changing, sanity-bringing written word comes from Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. These two Christian men, who are psychologists, speakers, and writers, have brought biblically based answers to questions about setting healthy boundaries in marriage, in parenting and at work. Their practical wisdom has been so, so helpful for me as I journey toward my own healthy relationships at home, work, and church.
This book has been a God-send to my life. It'a a must read for those of us who feel guilty when we have to set a boundary.
This walk isn't easy, the walk of developing healthy boundaries. At least it isn't easy for me. I love to say "Yes!" I love to be unselfish and put others first. I love to be helpful, even if there is a huge cost to me. Yet in this time of still being ill after being at Cannon Beach, I am more aware than ever of how important it is to start taking care of me. Sometimes that means I just can't. And that is so hard for me to admit.
So I am working on, as Stephen Covey says, "having the courage, pleasantly,
smilingly, unapologetically, to say "No".
The bigger "YES!" that is burning inside of me is to be healthy in ALL areas of my life and that takes intentionality and time. And I am also praying that I can love and respect the "No!" that I may hear from others.
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