A few months ago, I received an email with a quotation from The Invitation, by visionary author, Oriah Mountain Dreamer: “It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. . . .I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself: . . .” This quotation struck a chord with me because supporting people to recognize and honor their True Selves is a passion of mine.

A major cause of stress and overwhelm is the habit of ignoring the yearnings of our own True Selves while saying “yes” to other people’s requests (or demands) for our time, money, actions, even beliefs.

What makes us do that? It’s usually out of fears, and the false beliefs that go with the fears.

There’s fear of disappointing others. Do you believe that YOU are responsible for another’s feelings and experience, and that the other person is not responsible for themselves? False
belief. This belief is often paired with the belief that others are responsible for your experience. That belief can make you think that if you’re not feeling happy, it is somebody else’s fault, and can lead to anger and resentment. And what about disappointing your own ever-growing self?

Then there’s fear of hurting someone else. Often with fear of hurting another is the belief that if another’s feelings are hurt, they will abandon you or retaliate against you. And that goes with the false belief that you are not really good enough if you don’t do or provide what they want. What about hurting your own self respect? How does it feel to think you have to “buy” affection?

And under all, a fear of being abandoned emotionally if you disappoint, hurt, or irritate another.The false belief is that you need constant approval. That you will not survive if the other person is mad, disappointed, or hurt and withdraws or attacks.

How does it hurt you to avoid saying "no"?

There are other common fears in saying ‘No”. But whatever the fears are, the problem is that when we make choices out of fear, we deep down inside know it. And that eats away at our self esteem. We see our selves as weak and just perpetuate the false beliefs about our own unworthiness and lack of capability. Unfortunately, the less capable you feel, the more overwhelming external events can feel. So, then, of course, you feel even more anxious.

Assertiveness is the answer to the problem. If this sounds like you, you can find help. Learning to honor your own needs as well as consider others’ needs is the path of assertiveness. Assertiveness includes your setting healthy boundaries which helps your self esteem. Saying “no” also helps protect the health of your relationships by assuring that you don’t build up resentments and emotional fatigue, both of which are relationship toxins.

Learn to say "yes" to saying "no!"

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Jane Bolton, a Licensed marriage and family therapist, certified contemporary psychoanalyst, and certified master life coach is dedicated to supporting people in the fullest self expression of their Authentic Selves. This includes Discovery, Understanding, Acceptance, Expression, and Self-Esteem. Call 310.838.6363 or visit www.DrJaneBolton.com and www.FreedomFromShame.com.