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.