Why is it so difficult to say no?
One of the biggest fears many of us have is the fear of rejection. It is inevitable we think if we say no, we will disappoint someone, make them angry, hurt their feelings, or appear unkind or rude. Often as kids we said no and were disciplined for it. Sometimes our self-esteem is wrapped up in saying yes to as many people and opportunities as we can.
We think we are being kind and open hearted and sharing of our abundance, being a caring giver is all positive, whereas saying no is being stingy and harsh.
Saying no should be something we can do at our own discretion. We know that sometimes saying yes can be worse than saying no. Sometimes it is even more kind to say no than to say yes. Occasionally it’s worth a little rejection if saying yes will lead to resentment. Nevertheless, some of us fear saying no will leave us feeling humiliated, guilty, ashamed and worse, alone, rejected and abandoned. Having others think negatively of us is a pretty big form of rejection.
One of the beautiful and freeing things about aging is many of us tend to care less and less what others think as we become more experienced at saying no and we have learned over time that saying yes, only later to feel resentful about the things we said no to by saying yes is actually worse. We also begin to accept that nobody is perfect (despite facebook photos which indicate otherwise) as we age. Sometimes saying NO to one thing is often saying YES to something else of greater value.
For instance, my neighbor assumed we host Shabbos guests all- the- time. She said that she feels guilty if she has to say no but she feels so burnt out. For clarity sake, I actually do not host Shabbos guests all-the-time, specifically because it would totally burn me out; but it was never about me in the first place. My neighbor just used me symbolically to represent her own needs and feelings about whatever she thought about hosting every single Shabbat.
I remember many years ago, once making a fancy meal for someone who just had a baby, and serving fish sticks to my own family that night (which nobody here likes). This is all because I wanted to do “kindness.” Is it a kindness to my family that they have to eat fish sticks and deal with a stressed out mommy? What is really going on here? I was a slave to the misguided notion that I needed to appear to be of value for my own gratification.
How about when we exercise… What are we saying yes to and what are we saying no to? Do we exercise so hard that we can’t work out another day? Do we only go hard and not take time to unwind and do the slow workouts because of some internal need to be “strong.” [The irony is that we often pack on pounds from the increase in cortisol and inflammation caused by going hard and we risk injury by not slowing down to stretch and restore.]
When we eat sugary, salty, starchy foods. Is it self-care or self harm? It could be either one depending on the time and the mood and a plethora of other factors. We need to tune in and stop and reflect every so often.
These are big questions. Too big for a blog post. But I am thinking that an important step in being able to say no has to do with knowing our own worth is independent of what others think of us and based on far more than a singular decision. Our self-worth can’t be totally dependent on how much we do for other people. Does that even sound healthy? If saying yes makes you feel trapped, resentful or guilty, perhaps it is time to say no!?!
I love feeling useful helping people become comfortable in their bodies and love what exercise adds to their feeling of accomplishment, mood, and their physical health. B”H” my client load was full before Passover, really full. Saying yes to new clients or more sessions had reached a point where it had come to mean saying no to recharging my own battery or being the sharpest happiest Mommy I could be and more. To remedy this, I decided not to take on any new private training clients. Scary decision, but very worthwhile. I finally feel like I have re-charged and have more balance.
In the meantime, if you are ready to get started right NOW, there is space for new or returning clients to join the small group training class Monday mornings at 9:30 in Pico Robertson.
As we enter summer and some of my long-time regular clients take extended vacations overseas or take breaks from training to run mommy camp with their kids I will have more flexibility in scheduling and more openings for new private clients. So, if you are thinking about private or group training with me this summer, it is just around the corner. Please be in touch so I can let you know what spaces will be available in May and June when I will likely have the ability to take on more clients and you can have a regular time slot.
As always, feel free to send me any fitness-related questions.