“Your greatest self has been waiting your whole life; don’t make it wait any longer.”
Dr. Steve Maraboli
Often times if I chose to look at what is causing problems in my life I find that there isn’t anyone else to blame except myself.
It’s much easier and feels better to blame someone else. Being the victim is easier than being the one that needs to change. The problem I find is that playing this victim card only keeps me stuck. It often only makes me more angry, bitter, and frustrated.
I want change in my life but sometimes I don’t want to take the necessary steps for it to happen. It’s easy to say I want things to change but the hard part comes when I have to take action.
I have to be the one to decide if I want to take the challenge to get what I want which, also requires me to put in the hard work to get it. Here’s how I figured out how to get out of my own way.
I’m constantly beating myself up.
This is one of the most self-destructive behaviors anyone can do so naturally I’m really good at it. I struggled to see the positives in myself and often the situation I was in which made me feel weighed down.
Feeling this way caused the self-hatred cycle to continue. I know that hatred is a strong word but the way I was handling relationships and myself was destructive.
I had come to a point where I decided I needed to change. At this point in my life I was my own worst critic. There was no worse enemy than the one I was to myself.
These feelings were invisible on the outside, no one could see this going on with me but I could. It wasn’t until I saw just how much damage holding on to the guilt that I knew I had to change.
How I stopped
I had to get real with myself and this was a place I didn’t want anyone to see. I asked myself if I was helping or hurting myself by beating myself up so much. I knew the answer but had to face it and realize that by continuing this behavior it only pushed me further to a place of disgust and disappointment.
I knew I had to take action or I would continue to spiral down so I realized that I had to give myself permission that it is okay to make mistakes. I had to accept that all mistakes weren’t permanent and that self-forgiveness was the best chance I had at peace.
I had to be flexible with myself and not so rigid. I saw any mistake as unacceptable and every mess up (and there were many) as absolutely unacceptable. I needed to get to the bottom of my spiral to realize that only I could bring myself back up.
I would easily forgive a friend who made a mistake or asked for forgiveness so why was I holding myself to such a standard that I couldn’t do the same. I had to practice all of the time and often saying the words out loud was helpful because it allowed me to confront that inward critic.
I’m a people pleaser and saying “No” seemed impossible
I learned late in life of my inability to make another person feel happy or feel anything at all. It would have been perfect if I were taught as a child that I have no control of how another person feels, but that wasn’t the case.
There are many people in my life clients, friends, family, or others that really struggle with people pleasing. They feel they don’t have the right to say “No” to people due to fear that they will come across mean, unhelpful, or uncaring.
I had a hard time with the concept that I may be perceived as being rude or unwilling to help someone in need.
People pleasers often don’t speak up for their own needs because they don’t prioritize themselves and begin to “stuff and stack” their feelings. It would be too much to speak their mind so they just “stuff and stack” often until they find themselves using unhealthy coping skills to deal with the stress.
Overeating, reaching for anything with sugar, excessive drinking and a ton of other things to help avoid dealing with self. Also, it seems like many people pleasers can rationalize these by saying “I’m not hurting anyone” and “This is what I do for me.”
How I stopped
I started by saying one of the most powerful two letter words out there, “No”. Many people and situations will pressure me to say, “Yes, I can do that”. Even when I don’t want to say “yes”, I still do.
Speaking up, asserting self, and saying “No, I’m not able to” or “No, I can’t but maybe another time” is very powerful. Saying no doesn’t make me mean, ugly, or not helpful. It makes me in control of my own life…isn’t that the real goal?
Many times it’s my fears that keep me from speaking up so why not challenge myself and see if any of the worst-case scenarios that run through my head actually come true. Worst case a friend gets angry because I have to change plans or a family member gets frustrated because I’m unable to help out.
Each of these people have said “no” to me before and I didn’t blow a fuse so I deserve the same ability to say no to those that request of my time if I don’t want to give it to them. If I politely and assertively say no to someone, then they stay angry with me, then it is my responsibility to look at the role they serve in my life.
If someone holds a grudge against me for speaking up for what I need to do for my life, they may not need to be that important in my life.
My biggest challenge is learning how to get out of my own way. It’s not what others are doing to me. I know that no one could beat me up worst than I could myself, because I have a tendency to be really hard on myself.
No one can mess up my life. Only I can because I’m the one in control of it, regardless of how much I would like to blame others. I had to make the choice to see that the barrier in my life was me and given that fact, I had to do something about it.
Have you been able to get out of your own way?
What helped you to do this?
Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
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Do you have a hard time saying “No” when people ask something of you? Do you wish that it were easier to say “No” to people?
Think you’re the only one who gets irritated when someone asks something of you and you feel compelled to say, “Yes”.
Please know that you’re not the only one who feels this way. Once you get a better understanding of why you did this you will have an easier time saying “No”.
Top 3 reasons why you struggle with saying "No"
1. Fearful of how others will react.
What will people say about me? Will they think I’m being selfish or mean?
You don’t want to feel “guilty” for not helping out.
If your too concerned over judgment from others or how someone will perceive you then you will want to start by asking yourself the following question. “What’s the worst thing that can happen if I say No?”
How likely is it that the other person will tell you how selfish you are? Or that you should feel guilty for not helping out.
More than likely there is very little chance this will happen. If it does, oh well, you’ll work through it with the confidence that you did what was right for you.
If you continue to give this amount of weight to what others say or think about you then you will continue to be locked in unhappiness but at least you were nice to them.
2. It’s easier to be passive or passive aggressive.
It doesn’t take much work to avoid saying “No”.
Saying, “Yes” to everything is easy…at least until you realize that your exhausted and irritated. Being passive would be saying “Yes” to a request and then feeling resentful or angry at the person for asking.
Being passive aggressive would be saying “Yes” to a request but then gossiping about the person, rolling your eyes when they turn around, or thinking of a way to make them pay for asking your help.
It would be much harder to be assertive, by saying “No” and give a reason or not, you have the option. Most people don’t realize this that there is an option.
If you risk being assertive, you actually have a chance at achieving happiness or increased self-esteem.
3. You get something out of being frustrated, mad, or however you feel after you say “Yes, Yes, Yes”.
Sounds ridiculous right? Some people are comfortable being uncomfortable, so avoiding change is the easier route.
So what are you actually getting out of being a “Yes” person?
In your mind your getting the satisfaction that your being nice and not feeling guilty. Ask yourself…If I’m not getting something out of this why am I doing it?
How to say “No” to those who make request of your time or are too needy.
When did we as a society make the word “No” such a bad thing?
Think about it, we are suppose to be wiling and able to help others. Also to avoid at all cost anything that looks like narcissism, having a big ego, or focusing on yourself.
Asserting yourself and what you are willing or not willing to do has nothing to do with being self-centered. It has everything to do with being honest with you. If you can’t be honest with yourself who can you truly be honest with?
Try these 3 ways to say “No”
1. Stop and think quickly
You will likely want to stop and think if you want to say “No”. Many people automatically say “Yes” to people without fully thinking about it.
Maybe you feel pressured to give an answer when asked a question. One option is to say, “Let me think about it” or “I will need to check my calendar and get back to you.”
2. If you have an idea of what they may ask be ready ahead of time
Sometimes you may expect or anticipate that you may be asked for something.
For example, if you expect that you will be asked to volunteer at an event that you don’t want to attend. If you know that you don’t want to do something, go ahead and say “No, I’m not able to but thanks for asking” or “No, I don’t have the ability to make that happen.”
When being direct and to the point you may be surprised at the reaction you get. You will likely here one of these responses, but keep in mind this isn’t an extensive list because people are very creative when they want something.
-Okay no problem
-They will ask again in hope they can change your mind
-They plead with you and try to force you to say “Yes”
Just remember to be firm and clear because you have the right to say “No”.
3. Say “No” and a follow up
After saying “No” to the person, try a good follow up.
Here are a few examples:
-“No, I can’t pick the kids up that day from school but maybe I can pick them up the next time.”
-“No, I can’t make it to company party but I would be happy to stay later that day to help set up.”
-“No, we can’t make it to your dinner party but maybe we can plan another time to get together. “
There are very few if any benefits to being a people pleaser and learning to say “No” when you don’t want to do something can be a huge self-confidence boost.
Do you have any examples of when it felt good to say “No”?
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As a therapist, people come into my office for a variety of reasons.
They do not come into my office on a daily basis because they only want to chat.
Sure, it’s nice to have someone to talk with, however, my clients have a purpose for visiting me.
Each person’s purpose for therapy is different, some come to me to help them solve a problem, some have an expectation I can fix them, some need guidance on how to move forward, some come to dump out everything that is bothering them, some come because their partner has asked them to, and some come seeking help from the mysterious magic wand.
Keep in mind the wand doesn’t exist and there is no magic.
One of the most common issues that surfaces is how fear dominates our lives.
More importantly, I find that it’s the irrational fears that do the most damage.
Friendly remember…You can only mess up your own life…no one can do it for you.
4 most common fears that keep you from getting what you want.
1. Fear led by the “What if”?
This is a very common one…what if _______ (fill in the blank), but what if_______.
This is the one that adds gasoline to the fire leading to a panic attack.
“What if’s” are so powerful that just by thinking of a few sentences, which begin with this, can cause you to spiral quickly into panic.
But what causes this to happen?
Simple…you will never find an answer to the “What if” question because it can always lead to another one especially after a case of the “buts”.
2. Fear of not being good enough and being inadequate
This has so much power because it’s easy to think and applies to many areas of our lives.
If you’re telling yourself that you’re not good enough and you’ll not achieve your goals, go ahead and expect that this will be your outcome.
Continuing to focus on and repeat how your not good enough will become your reality quickly.
3. Fear of being judged by others
If you avoid making decision to not move forward in a direction you want or not do something you want because you are fearful of judgment you are giving away all of your power.
This is on you…your responsible for your life and happiness, not anyone else.
More than likely, if you decide to do anything of significance in your life you will be judged for the decision and possibly be judged even if you don’t make the decision.
Long story short, you’ll likely be judged either way so why not do what you want instead, it’s the best chance you have at happiness.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter because each of us has to be able to live with our decisions, dreams, and desires.
Since we have options why not choose our own happiness.
4. Fear your plan won’t work
This is the irrational belief that keeps you stuck in useless worry ensuring that your plan won’t work because you’re not moving forward.
How many times have you had a fantastic idea that popped into your head and you quickly dismissed it because of the automatic thought of “That will never work.”
Have you actually ever written this great idea on paper and brainstormed options to figure out if it has wings? If not, you’re simply stuck in fear.
Sure, your plan of buying fifty chickens, building a coop out back, and selling eggs to the neighborhood may not work if you live in a gated community.
However, once you have really given your plan a fair and rational analysis you can then make an assessment if it will work or not, but not until then.
Letting fears dictate your life keeps you locked in a place of mediocrity, unhappiness, and often times it leads to regret.
Mae West said it best “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
Think about it, who determines if you “do it right”?
Only you can determine that which makes it all the more important to challenge your irrational fears and do what you are meant to do!
What drives your fears?
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