We do it all the time. We say “yes” to people when we really mean to say “no.” For some reason, most of us think we should put other people’s wants and needs first; that our wants and needs are secondary.
I agonize over this nearly everyday. Logically, I know it is not in my best interest to take care of others first. Even airlines reinforce this logic when explaining what to do if the oxygen is depleted in the cabin: Put your air mask on first, then put it on the child next to you. That’s right, you can’t help someone else if you’re incapacitated.
I secretly want to, but I cringe at the thought of taking care of myself first. There’s a list of others that are so much more important: My husband, my children, my clients, my employer, my friends, my dog, my cat, strangers on the street, strangers who send me e-mail, strangers who find my cell phone number and call me. Then there’s me.
Where did this guilt originate? Why do I let it continue?
Rather than say “no” to everyone, I’ve developed a hermit lifestyle — a protective barrier that effectively keeps people away and from asking me to do things for them. Some folks worry about my reclusive behavior. They opine it’s not healthy. Then they come for a short visit, see my awesome home office and how much work I’m able to produce if they just let me be. They leave envious, wondering how they can achieve the same distance.
I know the challenge isn’t to run away from people; it’s to not put yourself in their clutches in the first place.
Am I living life on my own selfish terms? Yep.
Do I feel guilty about it? Yep.
But I refill my coffee cup and pull up the next project and soldier on, my dog at my feet and a gorgeous view out my window. And I smile even though there’s nobody here to see me.
Saying ‘Yes’ When You Mean ‘No’ by Robin Van Auken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://www.robinvanauken.com.
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