I was a pleaser as a child. Always wanting to do my best, never put a foot wrong. Which is all well and good when it comes to school awards day and aspiring to be Head Girl but in adult life, being a pleaser roughly translates as ‘crap at saying no’.
Perpetuated by perfectionist traits and still that overwhelming desire to be ‘liked’. I can on occasion, find myself silently weeping behind the steering wheel of my car, as I drive from one activity to the next. Knowing I still have the Christmas Fair sweetie cones to make, an essay to finish, the beds haven’t been changed, the dog needs a walk and oh what’s that? My old boss wondering if I wouldn’t mind, just for a moment, looking over this document. Even though I left two months ago and I am NO LONGER PAID!!
‘Sure, no problem, that’s fine’. The words have tripped out of my mouth before you can say nervous breakdown.
So why is it I can’t break the ‘can’t say no’ curse?
I was reflecting on this today. When having woken bone-achingly tired from anemia, a huge amount of study awaiting me, along with all the other ‘to dos’, I found myself volunteering to help with the Christmas Fair prep. Don’t worry I can squeeze it in…it’ll be fine.
Oops, I did it again. Although, when I did it in the playground, I didn’t look as hot as Brittany Spears.
Why is this? Ego? Do I want to be Wonder Woman? I don’t think so…I don’t think I have the energy.
I think, in part, it is my perfectionist streak. I fear showing any weakness. Not being able to ‘cope’.
I am simply terrified of failing.
I am scared of not being good enough. Not getting any of it right. The mum stuff, the work stuff, the friendship stuff. All of it goes back to being a little girl who wanted to please. Because when she pleased everyone, all the turbulent bits of my childhood went away for a little while.
But here I am now, a grown woman whose learned behaviour is still to please everyone.
Don’t say no, because if you say no, the sky might fall in. The silly thing is, if I don’t start learning to say no, that might just happen. Hubby said to me this week ‘A sick Rosie isn’t any good to anyone.’
How do I do it though? How do I unravel decades of head nodding?
Well, the first step I am taking is to buy myself time.
The next ‘Would you mind…’ email or text I receive, I am NOT going to automatically reply with ‘No problem….’
I am going to respond with ‘I’ll have to get back to you on this…’. Not, this afternoon or in a minute. Just I’ll get back to you.
Then I am going to ask myself the following questions:
What are the implications for me and my family if I say yes/no to this?
What are the implications for the other party?
Who else can they ask?
Finally, most importantly….DO I WANT TO DO THIS? If the answer to the last one is no, then I will be replying ‘I’m sorry I can’t help this time but hope you find a solution.’ No caveats, no, (although the temptation is so strong), can I help next week instead…
This isn’t going to be easy, in fact, it’s going to really difficult. I’m set to default head nodding.
But I am going to try, because I’m not fine. I am exhausted and you can’t pour from an empty cup.