Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity. ~ W. Clement Stone
Confession: I’ve been a people pleaser most of my life. I’ve done what I think I’m supposed to do to make the people around me happy.
Needless to say, my own happiness was pretty low on my list of priorities. My thinking was that I would be happy when everyone around me was happy.
Funny thing is that this time never comes. Making everyone around me happy is completely impossible.
For decades I didn’t understand the core tenant of happiness: no one and nothing outside of you can make you happy. Happiness comes from within. It’s a choice.
My ability to momentarily please people (or not) depends on how they choose to perceive my actions. What may be helpful to one person could be interference to another.
It has taken me quite some time to shift my core beliefs in this area.
The Internal Battle
When epiphanies like this happen, it’s our logical mind that gets it first. Initially our subconscious fights the new thought because it “knows” differently.
The two minds duke it out as the logical mind shows the subconscious all the obvious evidence to support the new belief. The subconscious fights it with lots of “yeah, but’s.”
As long as we keep thinking the new belief and seeking out evidence to prove it, eventually our subconscious mind gives up and takes on the new belief.
Once I believed that it wasn’t up to me to make everyone happy, I was finally able to focus on what makes me happy.
I also realized how much energy I used trying to please others. I started to understand why I felt so exhausted most of the time. Relentlessly pursuing an impossible goal will do that to you.
Choose Yourself First
We’re programmed to believe that pursuing our own happiness is selfish. Like we’re not supposed to be happy until we make everyone else around us happy first.
This comes from the same warped thinking that keeps us from doing things we enjoy because we have to finish all the un-fun work that never ends first.
I’m here to tell you that those rules are total BS. They’ve created nothing but misery for millions of people.
It’s time to wake up to your new, happier way of being.
It all starts by putting yourself first. Go ahead. Be selfish. You’ll also be happy.
Putting yourself first means saying no much more often than you’re probably used to. Start getting used to it.
Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best. ~ John C. Maxwell
For years I said yes to everything, thinking that I was invincible and could take on more than anyone else. Even being very organized and efficient, it’s crazy for me to think I could handle this level of stuff – especially other people’s stuff.
When I started saying no to requests (in a diplomatic way) or not volunteering by assistance, I felt bad. I thought I was letting people down.
In this process I started to see more clearly what other people were made of. Most people shrugged it off and went elsewhere for help.
The ones that got mad at me seemed to be shirking responsibility for their own lives. I wasn’t picking up their slack. They got mad because I wasn’t doing what they expected of me, even though I never signed up for their expectations. Who were they to set such unrealistic expectations?
The more I said no, the more clearly I could see my healthy boundaries – that imaginary line between helping because it makes me feel good and helping because others expect it of me.
The more I worked my ‘no’ muscle, the more people started to respect my decisions.
While I may take on crazy amounts of work, I do it because I love the process. It’s not really work. I’m learning and growing and helping people. I’m doing it because it feeds my happiness, not someone else’s expectations.
I say no to things that don’t support my values so I can focus my time on things that do.
I have a long list of projects that I’m choosing to take on at work, at home and in my businesses. Yes, sometimes I lose sleep and get stressed out but it’s because of the pressures I put on myself. Sometimes it takes me a little time to realize that these pressures are all self-imposed and completely under my control.
No one else knows or cares what my deadlines are. They’re just happy I’m doing what I’m doing and helping them in the process.
We Teach People How To Treat Us
If we’re a doormat and say yes to everything, people will continue to expect us to say yes to everything.
When we make our boundaries clear by saying no because that’s the healthy choice for us, we teach others to respect our choices.
The next time someone asks you to do something or you think of taking on something new, get quiet, take a few deep breaths and listen to your gut. Is it relaxed or tight? Do you feel drawn to the project or repelled by it? Act on those feelings.
Don’t let your monkey mind rationalize something that your gut knows isn’t in your best interest.
Just say no. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Hint: It’s not nearly as bad as you think if you think it through.
Maybe no means “not now.” Or maybe it means “no chance in hell.” Be clear with yourself and those around you.
Saying no to something that doesn’t serve you opens the space to allow you to say yes to something that makes your heart sing.
What’s one thing on your plate that makes your gut tight? What can you do today to say no to that thing and mean it?
Go do that thing. Now. Your happiness depends on it.
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