Just Say No

Just Say No

There’s a critical life lesson that my parents neglected to teach me which is how to say no. It’s important to learn to say no because it’s empowering and it allows you to establish healthy boundaries. But my parents raised a family of overly-accommodating people pleasers who have a hard time refusing anyone anything.

Being a people pleaser at times has turned out to be a positive experience for me. It definitely reinforced my value at work and it also gave me a sense of acceptance from friends and family in the past. But it also drained my energy, screwed up my priorities, made me feel obligated to ensure other people’s happiness and worst of all, forced me to put my own needs last.

I was programmed to be accommodating. I was taught that it was my responsibility to make my mother happy by making an appearance at each and every command performance family event or there would be consequences. I learned it was up to me to appease my abuser’s volatile behavior or he’d lash out at me in a rage. My sense of autonomy was nonexistent and I was convinced that the rage was justified. And I fumbled through life believing I wasn’t important enough to have choices.

My abuser did me a favor when he torched my house and decimated my family relationships because I was forced to develop a new sense of self. For the first time in my life, I began to focus on my own needs and I was able to identify what I did NOT want. I encountered some unsavory predators along the way who targeted me while I was vulnerable and I discovered that it was my responsibility to love myself enough to say no when I was uncomfortable. I am still learning how to do it and I admit it’s a challenge. I fear the consequences of not being accommodating to others.

But on the other hand, I know that saying no means I am saying yes to myself. I am loving myself by setting boundaries. I am gaining confidence in my ability to steer my own ship. And I am also gaining respect for myself and from others. And certainly, if others don’t like me establishing boundaries then they never liked or respected me in the first place.

I am not responsible for anyone else’s happiness, only my own. So I will continue to just say NO.

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