This post is the second of three posts I have written on helping women gain the confidence to say no in situations that do not serve their best interests. If you missed the first post in this series, click here.
Are You Afraid?
I used to be afraid if I said no I would offend someone or they would dislike me. It was important for me to be liked. I needed it.
It’s exhausting to live up these silent expectations.
But where does the silent expectation live? It lives inside the person creating it.
I don’t believe we are truly aware expectations exist until we look inside ourselves. Self-reflection brings these things to the surface but we must be prepared to reflect upon the actions that result in us getting what we don’t want.
It wasn’t until I observed I had created many of life’s daily expectations that I was empowered to create new expectations. Observing how women come to say yes is an empowering first step to having the confidence to say no.
I don’t believe we are truly aware expectations exist until we look inside ourselves.
Being the go-to person is a woman’s silently created reality.
How Women Come To Say Yes (So You Can Have the Confidence to Say No)
Someone must think I’m useful in this way.
It is incredibly important for some women to be useful to others at the expense of living a life that they want.
For many women, their purpose is living life through others. Many of us have learned that taking care of someone else is more important than taking care of ourselves, and putting others before ourselves is a selfless act and our only way to experience self-worth.
If this is your experience and you care to self-reflect, ask yourself these questions:
- Is it important for me to be useful?
- How come being useful is important to me?
- Does being useful mean I have to agree to do everything asked of me to or cave into demands?
I like to take care of everyone.
Some women live their whole lives taking care of others, and it seems incredibly important that they make it their life’s mission to do so. It can be a wonderfully selfless act, and I’ve witnessed some amazing women who have changed the lives of other less fortunate people.
In this case, it might be useful to reflect on the importance of taking care of others. Ask yourself these questions…
- How important is it to take care of this person or these people?
- At what expense am I taking care of this person or these people?
- What would happen if I declared them okay to take care of themselves?
I don’t give myself permission to say no.
If you don’t genuinely believe you have the right to say no, the chances are you won’t.
Many families put sisters, daughters, mothers, aunties and grandmothers in certain roles. Saying no when you don’t believe you have the right to, makes that action unavailable to you. Ask yourself these questions…
- Do I genuinely believe I have the right to say no?
- What would happen if I said no?
- Does it have to be yes or no, all or nothing?
I’m smaller, weaker or less important than this other person.
There are small and often silent actions in a relationship that hold another person in a position of authority. It’s one thing to say we’re equal partners and there is mutual respect, but what are the actions to back up this claim?
Reflecting on what’s going on in these relationships where you give your authority to someone else can be both confronting and enlightening.
- Who does the authority live with in this relationship?
- Have I given someone else authority to be a stronger and more important person than me?
- Would it be okay to step into my own authority and what would that mean for this relationship?
I might as well give into their demands – it’s the only way to keep the peace.
Keeping the peace by giving into a demand or even a plea may occur when a person is trying to avoid emotional backlash.
When someone demands or pleas, their emotional responses have already kicked into action. You could liken this to a demanding child that doesn’t get their own way.
Distinguishing between a request or a demand is absolutely crucial to begin stepping into your own authority.
- Is it a request, a demand, or a plea?
- Can I ‘feel’ the difference between a request, demand or plea?
- What does it ‘feel’ like in my body?
- Would it be okay to stand strong and not keep the peace?
I invite you to ask yourself these questions as you reflect on your own responses to requests. Questioning can be a very powerful approach to learning if the questions are asked non-judgementally.
Regardless of what you observe about your past responses to requests or offers, it does not mean you are deficient as a human being. No response is wrong, it just is. It also doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them, and change your responses.
What did you think of these ideas? Were they familiar to you? How will you change the way you say yes or no? Let me know in the comments!