I posted the question on Facebook:
Do you sometimes feel like the more you do for people, the more they expect from you? Are you setting a dangerous precedent for yourself, friends, colleagues and family by doing too much?
By being too accessible and too generous, do you steal people’s power and their abilities to figure things out for themselves?
The answer may be yes!
This year I took up the practice of meditation in earnest. In the stillness of meditation, a bunch of things came up. One thing was, that I’m a control freak (I own that and it’s not likely to change anytime soon because right now it’s working for me). Two, am I being taken advantage of?
No really… what the hell is that about? In meditation, I totally figured it out. I am a yes girl to a fault.
I’m a people pleaser. I inherited it from my mom.
She’ll do anything for anybody! I even won an award called “the Yoga Teacher who always Bends Over Backwards for you.”
Well, my back is starting to hurt from all these backbends.
I grew up a fat black girl in a small white town. Don’t feel sorry for me, I had friends. I went to prom. I had friends because I would do anything for them and they knew it. I wanted so desperately to be liked and accepted that I got really taken advantage of.
Stupid thing is, I didn’t know this truth until now, and it’s still happening. I feel like I do everything for everybody and I have no time for myself.
What I’m realizing is that I can say no and people will still like me and probably even respect me more.
Who knew that “no” was the new “yes?”
I totally get it when I’m practicing yoga. One of my greatest Yoga teachers talks about the play of yes and no in the practice of Yoga. “No facilitates the yes,” he always said. Saying no can be tough, even my teacher needed a little more no.
In my own practice on the mat, I feel no in my body and I honour and appreciate it. Sometimes it encourages laziness and other times no creates inspiration. No on my yoga mat is strength and resolve. No in my asana practice means letting go of the outcome—I will get to that pose one day, just not today.
I ask my students to honour their no in their practice so that the yes means freedom to be where you are.
No leaves something to be explored for the next day and the day after that. No in my asana practice means I get to come back tomorrow and try again.
In my life off the mat I need more no, because I tend to say yes to everything. I think I can help everyone. Saying yes too much is making me feel less then authentic. I really mean to say no—I just can’t say it. So for the sake of my sanity, I am going to try saying no more often.
It’s nothing personal, but it’s still no.
Think of it as me empowering you by letting you figure it out for yourself. I promise you can do it if you try—stand in your power. You will figure it out. Just remember when I’m saying no I really mean yes!
Editor: Lynn Hasselberger