Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It doesn't make you kind - it just makes you feel like a slave.

The following conversation has actually happened. More than once. Most often, I have been the pink person. Once or twice I have been the green person.

A conversation between two people:
Do you WANT to do that?
When some people say "sure" I don't feel concerned. When you say "sure", this is what I hear: "I can't even think about what I want. HE wants me to do that, so I will." Which means what you are really saying is, "I haven't thought about what I want yet, but I probably don't want to do it."
Of COURSE I don't want to, why would I want to do that?
I don't know. Why would you?
I DON'T.  But... I'm supposed to do what everyone else wants me to do, that makes me a kind person.
No. It just makes you a slave to other people. I can't imagine that he wants you to feel like his slave. I think he probably actually cares about YOU... If you cared about someone, would you want them doing things they didn't want to do JUST because they felt like they had to... or JUST to make you happy... Only a really selfish, abusive, jerk would want you to do something you hated, just to make them happy. How could knowing you were miserable make someone else happy? I don't believe he's that kind of person. Do you?
No. It's just easier to do what other people want than to deal with the anxiety of disappointing them.
Really? That's easier? You feel depressed and anxious most of the time. You feel guilty and afraid whenever anyone asks you to do anything (unless you also want to do it, then you feel happy. That's the way it is supposed to be. BOTH people are happy.). It might be easier, but I'd say it's killing you slowly. Besides, the fear of NOT pleasing them makes you avoid people. If you had the freedom to say NO, you'd also have the freedom to say YES. Being with other people would not freak you out as much as it does.

You have nothing to be afraid of. You are good and kind and wonderful. You will still be all of those things when you learn to let yourself do what you want. You will find that you want to do a lot of things for other people, and doing things for others won't wear you out like it does now. It will feel good. It will feel fun and loving and GOOD. 
Ok? I can't really think about all that you just said. So, what do I say right now? How do I answer his question today?
Say, "No". 
Say, "I appreciate you asking, but I am not interested right now. If anything changes I'll let you know". 
It doesn't really matter... You can even tell him how hard it is to say no, because you feel like you don't have a choice. You can tell him you feel like you have to do what he wants, but you don't want to... Just be honest with yourself, and understand you are worthy of having your own wants, needs, thoughts, and opinions. You get to decide what you do with your life. 

When I was afraid that I couldn't say NO, I had a lot of social anxieties. I was afraid of every man, woman and child. What if they wanted something? I HAD to give them what they wanted. If someone asked for something, I had no choice. If someone looked like they might sort of kind of want something, I had no choice. It was my job to take care of everyone else, and the way I did that was to always do what everyone else wanted. The world was a terribly frightening place.

It WAS really hard to face the anxiety of saying NO, and even more scary to think about what I wanted. It was SO hard. I wasn't sure it was worth it at the time, but it got better. I got used to acknowledging my wants and needs. I got used to doing what I wanted, and they were right! I actually WANT to do a lot of things for and with other people. I am much more kind and giving person now, because I do things from my own heart. I don't do things out of obligation, guilt or fear.

I feel very comfortable in social situations now. If someone wants a hug, I think about what I want and I do that. (I CHOOSE.) If someone asks me a question, I decide what and how much I will share. If someone needs money, I decide how much I can and want to give. The world isn't scary anymore, because I know I can take care of myself.

Other people didn't change. I did!
 I learned how to take care of myself. I learned how to respect me. I learned I had a choice. I had the right to say NO to any request, at any time, for any reason.

There are some people who don't care about my wants or needs... They care a lot about their own wants. Some people's needs include controlling others, controlling ME. When I encounter people like this, I find I have to be VERY strong. NO should be enough, but sometimes I have to get distance and space from them too.

There will always be people who don't understand or respect my boundaries. There will always be people who use manipulation, insults, and whatever else they have to do to get what they want. When I'm dealing with people like that, less is more.  NO is enough. If I give my reasons, or my thoughts, they tend to use that against me.

There are still people who don't know how to handle it if I don't say YES. They just aren't used to me saying no. At first, they might do some manipulative things, but they won't KEEP doing those things. (This usually happens with family. They've known me all my life, and they just don't know how to handle "the new me". Explaining to them where I have been and why the change makes a lot of sense to them. Their love for me motivates them to become a part of the next group.)

For the most part, all of my relationships are better. Closer. More open. Just more.

There are some people who were afraid to ask anything of me. They knew how hard I tried to please others, and they didn't want to make it harder for me. Now they know I will take care of myself, and that gives them more freedom to take care of themselves.

It turns out, mm  e becoming healthier and stronger made all of my relationships healthier and stronger. That was something I wasn't expecting.


  1. Thanks for these thoughts. I enjoy reading your comments on this topic as I work out what it will look like in my life. Right now I am learning that if I am too hot or too cold I can adjust the temperature in my car. It is my car after all, and most of the time I am alone. Soon maybe I'll have the confidence to let someone know if I am too hot or too cold in their car rather than just suffering in silence... well, maybe not too soon. I was talking with a friend of mine the other day, and after 5 minutes or so of our conversation I moved further away from him. he was in my bubble. I know he likes to be close, so I tried to be okay with it, you know, but I couldn't do it. Anyhow, he was in no way offended. He just asked my why I didn't ask him to move sooner...

    1. My first reaction to your comment was, "How sad. You can't even adjust your temperature when you're alone. Don't you know you totally deserve better?" and then I realized that I am currently sitting in my house ALONE with two sweatshirts on because I don't want to turn up the heat... So... apparently we both have a ways to go. :)

      Isn't it interesting how we think people will be offended, but really, they just want us to be happy too? Like your friend. And many of my friends.

  2. When I was in Chicago, a girl stopped me on the street. She represented some charity where you sponsor a child and pay money every month. I told her I wasn't interested and she asked me why I didn't want to help the children. A number of reasons went through my head, things about how I don't trust this girl to get the money to where it needs to go, or about how I don't want a recurring expense, or how I would like to research a charity before I donate. But the truth was, she only needed to know one reason. I just told her, "I don't want to." She looked at me like I was some vile creature, and I went on my merry way. She's used to people who make up some excuse that she can refute, because it's not their real reason.

    It's empowering to be honest with people, and just tell them when you don't want to do something. Some will be cranky, because it dis-empowers their ability to manipulate, but a true friend will appreciate that you help them by showing where the boundaries are.

    1. It's very empowering to be honest... it's also scary. If you weren't secure in yourself, her look could have been enough to knock you off course. I'm glad it didn't effect you too much. I hope it didn't effect you at all.

      I LOVE your last sentence. "A true friend will appreciate that you help them by showing where the boundaries are." You said it better than I could, but that's exactly what my experience has been.

      Love you lots!