Learning To Say No
“One key to successful relationships is learning to say no without guilt so that you can say yes without resentment.” — Bill Crawford
I loved my conversation with Charli Wall on this week’s IC show. Charli is a 3 Principles coach who primarily works with women struggling with substance abuse and eating disorders. Many of the women she works with have experienced some type of trauma or simply have difficulty facing life’s challenges. Feeling overwhelmed and burnt out, they turn to food, alcohol, or drugs to help them deal with their emotions. This is an issue Charli knows only too well, having lived, and come through the other side herself.
When she was only twenty-one, Charli’s life was dramatically changed when her father and eighteen-year-old brother were involved in a horrific motorbike accident. Her brother was killed in the accident, and her father was left with severe spinal injuries and cognitive disabilities. Charli immediately took on the role of caring for her father, who suffered from paralysis, depression, and suicidal ideation. This, coupled with the grief of losing her brother, proved too much for her to bear. To cope, Charli turned to drugs and alcohol to dull the pain and the anxiety she experienced.
After a while, the cost to her health became evident, and Charli gave up trying to numb herself with substances. Once sober, Charli focused on her career and became an addiction specialist. Over the years, Charli continued to juggle her career demands while taking care of her father and raising her son as a single parent. After her father passed, Charli, feeling exhausted and burnt out, decided it was time to change how she had been living her life.
Fueled by her own experience with over-responsibility and burnout, Charli left her old job and studied to become a life coach. Her mission was to help other women find balance in their life, through a holistic approach of Mind, Body, and Soul. These days Charlie works with women individually and in groups. I asked Charli what some of the more common issues she saw in the women she worked with. Her immediate response was ‘self-loathing’ and not feeling ‘good enough.’
I knew precisely what Charli was talking about. I had suffered from the same issues myself, and I see them in the women I work with who suffer from Codependency. I believe many factors contribute to this type of thinking, from the environment we grew up in to the pressure society puts on us. At least that was the case for me.
Besides not feeling good enough about myself due to my father’s abandonment, like many women, I was raised to be a good little girl. My mother taught me that good girls behaved perfectly all the time. They were loving and nurturing and always put other people’s needs ahead of their own. I was praised as a ‘good girl’ when I suffered in silence, and if I should no or complained, I was shamed for being selfish.
I carried this imprint throughout my life. It didn’t matter how tired or exhausted I was, I couldn’t say no. If someone asked me to do something for them, I always said yes. And if they didn’t ask, I volunteered anyway. I was desperate for approval and the need to be seen as a kind, selfless person. If I wasn’t self-sacrificing, by giving you the shirt off my back, my last morsel of food, or my last penny, I didn’t feel good about myself!
I didn’t realize that this type of behavior was causing me and my relationships to suffer. By compulsively saying yes to every request made of me, I gave more than I could afford to give, which led to me feeling resentful. It was no one’s fault but my own. My compulsive need to be a ‘good girl’ overrode my ability to check in with myself to see if this was something I wanted to do.
Thank goodness that is not the case anymore. I now see that my self-worth is not based on me negating my own needs and desires to take care of another. I see that the same innate wellbeing and resilience that resides within me resides within everyone else too. I see that I don’t need to rescue others to feel good about myself. And I am learning that it is okay to say “no.”
With love and appreciation, Del 💕