aahh that honeymoon period. The time in your relationship when all you can see is a sparkly, loved up version of your mate. You view them from an emotional distance that doesn’t allow you to pick at their flaws and see their weaknesses.
They are gods (or goddesses). They are heroes (or heroines). They are knights (or…?? What’s the female equivalent? You know what I mean!) Everything is carefree. Sans responsibilities or duties or routines. You make an effort with your clothes; your activities; your time together.
Someone asked you for help and you said no!
You spent a day by yourself without your partner or kids!
You avoided a conversation with your auntie Betty about the decision you'd taken on whether to bottle or breastfeed.
You didn't volunteer for that extra event when you were asked.
You selfish cow! Really?
Isn't that what you tell yourself if you say no? I know I have. The people pleaser saboteur in me had me convinced for years that if I wasn't putting myself out for other people I was selfish. But it's different now I have clearer boundaries of 'what is OK and what is not OK for me.'
By having a clear view on when I am crossing a line in doing something to the detriment of me and my family and being able to communicate that in a loving way helps me to manage any guilt I may be feeling in saying no, the guilt is that pesky saboteur trying to convince me I 'should'. It allows the logical part of my brain to say, 'You've already volunteered for 3 hours this week, you don't have the time to do another 2 simply because someone asked, because if you do you will feel tired out and you won't get these other priorities in your life done. What you have done is good enough and the extra mile will not be good for YOU. Say no without feeling guilty."
When you are naturally giving and see it as a key part of who you are, the yes is on your lips before the person asking has finished the sentence, often the person hasn't even asked and you have waded in with support or offers of solutions. Am I right? However, like everything, it's important to be more conscious, mindful, whatever you want to call it of what you are agreeing to or how you are supporting the other person, because in the long run it makes you more giving.
But how can that be? It sounds selfish to me, you are putting yourself first. That is selfish. You've not convinced me you aren't being mean not helping. (OH yes, this is a deep seated Mean Little Cow rally this one, isn't it?)
In my Monday Minute Coach on Facebook this week I did a video that put it in a nutshell:
You feel selfish saying no.
1. How will you feel if you say yes?
Resentful; Angry; Overwhelmed; Sanctimonious?
Why are you doing it then?
2. If you feel:
Go for it.
3. Would the person who asked you to do something want you to do it knowing you might burn yourself out, feel resentful, feel they owed you something?
4. Why are you feeling selfish/guilty saying no?
Give with love or don't give. Don't feel selfish.
Then interestingly Brene Brown came into my newsfeed with this powerful 5 minute video.
The 2 big takeaways from me here are that 'the most compassionate people have clear boundaries'. Just like Brene, I've spent years thinking the opposite was true. The reason I agree is why I'd done the Monday Minute Coach video. Just like you, I've done lots of things for people and organisations in the past, or I've helped and supported without them asking. It has left me frazzled, sat up working at 1am in the morning, because by prioritising their needs above mine I was unable to do the things I needed for myself earlier in the day, and consequently the love in the giving was lost. The giving became exhausting, eventually resentful and duty bound. The compassion was lost. Has this ever happened to you?
However, in large part I'd said yes, or even offered support with no request or mild hints, and not communicated what the impact might be on me to the other person. How were they supposed to know?
Which brings me to the second big takeaway of this video. Brene talks about 'Giving B.I.G.- Boundaries, Integrity and Generosity.'
If you have clear boundaries and communicate them in a loving way then you are giving from a place of integrity. I take that to mean you are being honest with the person to whom you are giving, and most importantly, to yourself. By doing this you will be loving and generous in mind and action. Therefore, more loving and giving than ever before. The other part of the Mean Little Cow voice will be shouting, 'But you shouldn't give to receive and you should always put others before yourself.' These are deeply held societal and self beliefs that may have some truth in them, but isn't it about time you created beliefs that don't ensure that you burnout in the process of achieving them in their purest form? Can you rewrite these beliefs to live your truth?
Brene also talks about having boundaries in your life for those who have a negative impact on your life. It may be a friend who constantly moans and never does anything different to change her actions or behaviours. It might be a sibling, who still sees you as the 'baby' of the family and laughs at everything you are trying to do in your career. Often, over years everyone has adopted a role and it's hard for people to adjust when you decide you don't want to play the game anymore. Brene's advice to accept that, 'they are doing the best they can right now,' is great advice. You will be able to create clear boundaries of what you are willing or unwilling to discuss with them or do for them, but you will do it from a place of love rather than getting angry or demotivated at their stand point or situation.
I know this is one area that will take a lot of work, particularly if that Mean Little Cow voice is shouting YOU are a selfish cow. But take mine and Brene's advice, give B.I.G. and know you are more loving in doing so.
Love to hear whether you feel guilty saying no in the comments.
We'll be covering 'Boundaries' as a theme in my Solution Focused Sisterhood this month. Come and join now for the price of a cuppa a week.
You feel guilty. What about? What standard of behaviour have you failed to live up to in your mind? Who set that standard?
Now, before I start I want to make it clear that I do think it's important we have rules of behaviour and laws in society, otherwise there would be chaos. However, I also see daily evidence of women feeling guilty about all the things it appears they 'should' be doing.
If you work, you feel guilty you aren't at home with the kids.
If you don't work, you feel guilty you aren't using the education, you put in years to gain, into practice in the field you trained for.
If you have time for yourself, you feel guilty that you aren't 100% available for your family or your work.
If you don't take time for yourself, you feel guilty that you aren't looking after you.
You feel guilty because you make more money than anyone in your family.
You feel guilty if you have to ask your family for financial support when you don't.
Guilt can simply drag you down and make you feel rotten about yourself. It can keep you stuck and it can hold you back. So what to do?
I love watching Marie Forleo for inspirational snippets and there are definitely aspects to what she says here about guilt that I agree with. Click to watch.
Whilst I agree with most of what Marie says here, I disagree with the fact that "guilt isn't useful." All negative emotions; guilt, anger, sadness, frustration have a place in the human emotional spectrum. (Have you seen Inside OUT? LOL) It's what we do with it that counts.
So, I say. 'Is guilt guiding you or hiding you?'
What do I mean?
Well, if guilt is guiding you, you are listening to it, all but briefly, and then taking the action signals from it and assessing where the truth is in the guilt and then how you can act in a way that is in alignment with your values, moral code and beliefs.Do this and guilt is useful.
For example, you feel guilty you haven't contacted a friend for months. The truth is you do want to speak to that person, but you haven't made time. The other truth is in the last 6 communications you have made the call. Therefore, you have nothing to feel guilty about. You have done more than your 50% of the 100% in that relationship. Whether you choose to contact this friend now is down to you, but you don't need to feel guilty. Take action that is going to be good for you, not because you feel bad you haven't made the effort with a friend who previously, evidence shows, has made little effort to contact you. This example can help you grow and create better boundaries around how you are treated by others. Use it. Make it useful.
At this point, depending on the strength of your people pleasing saboteur, guilt will try to make you feel bad if you don't make the call. This is where you may end up using guilt to hide not guide you.
What do I mean?
Well, if you make the call simply because you can't bear the idea that that friend will think you are a bad person if you don't keep in touch, NOT because you would enjoy the communication and love to hear from the person, you are hiding your true feelings, values behind the guilty feelings that are judging you. In fact over time you will begin to resent the said friend and only be ringing out of a sense of obligation. Is that loving? Is that friendship?
Using Marie's example above, if you are feeling guilty about creating a business that makes you happy and is financially rewarding and this feeling stops you from doing it, for fear of making others feel more upset about their work situation or financial situation, is it not the case that you are not using the guilt feelings to guide you positively. As Marie says, "You being miserable too won't help them." However, creating a great business where you can create rewarding jobs for others or donate time and/or money to others is an action that will bring a positive out of that guilty feeling. Don't hide your true self behind the guilt.
If you are feeling guilty right now, what is it about? Why?
Is it guiding you? Listen. Evaluate. Act.
Is it hiding you? Listen. Evaluate. Act.
Tell us how guilt is helping or hindering you in the comments.
Pop over to my Facebook page for more inspiration on guilt all week.
I’ve just had a fantastic weekend. It was one of the hardest weekends of my life, but one of the most enlightening.
I’ve woken up to the fact that for a large part of my life I have been living life on a rollercoaster.
What do I mean?
Well, I strongly believe that we live life in metaphors and some of them give us power, make us stronger, happier and more fulfilled. However, some of them make us feel weak, unable to be positive and are downright destructive.
It’s pretty simple when you think about it.
A metaphor is when we communicate a concept and liken it to something else.
So if I were to describe how I am feeling by saying ,“My head is exploding.” What does that tell you about how I feel? Would you think I felt happy, peaceful and content with the world or would it tell you I felt chaotic, overwhelmed and distressed.
Now we surround ourselves with metaphors all day from the journey to work or school run in the morning to the minute we sit down for tea at night. What we aren’t aware of is how much impact these metaphors have on us. If we go around thinking I’ve got the weight of the world on my shoulders or I’m at the end of my tether or I can’t see the wood for the trees, do you think it is likely we are going to have a day filled with happiness and be productive?
In relationships we can have metaphors for our loved ones that can be positive or negative.
If my kids don’t show they are grateful after a fun filled day out and simply ask for more, I think ‘the little brats.’ How do you think this makes me behave towards them? Do you think I stay patient and keep my temper knowing that they are over excited and it’s normal for kids to ask for more? Do I heck. I end up shouting saying they should be grateful and they don’t know they are born etc etc. Will that help them be appreciative? Unlikely. However, if I kept the feeling that they are my ‘little treasures’ in mind we might make it to bedtime without the shouting and when I have managed to do this, they have been known to kiss me and thank me for a lovely day. (Not every time of course! LOL)
Leading life coach Tony Robbins calls these our “global metaphors”.
I believe that by making a conscious decision what your metaphors are going to be you can change the way you live. So, for me living on a roller coaster means I have been known to sabotage myself by listening to my negative self at home and at work because to me Life was a Rollercoaster. I haven’t allowed myself the easy ride. I’ve just made myself work harder, or not accepted what I am doing is good enough and then felt overwhelmed.
I have listened to the negative voice in me (..and you are lying if you say you haven’t got one. We all do. Some are just louder than others.) telling me lies and believing them. It isn’t just positive thinking for positive thinking sake. The great thing is I have just spent the weekend finding out why I do this and I am so excited because it gives me a chance to write a whole new set of metaphors to live by with my new found knowledge. It’s about acting out the way we think and thus feeling it.To have only one metaphor to live by is as limiting as being unconscious of them. So, let’s think of loads.
I’m making a start here, from now on I am living the following life with the love of my life and our two little treasures:
Life is a Gift. Life is a Soundtrack. Life is love. Life is an adventure. Life is a mystery to be solved. When you look at life like this, the possibilities are endless. I’ll let you know how I get on. Let me know yours in the comments below.