I was reflecting the other day on a call with a client about a propensity we humans have that is really such a detriment to our thriving, and it’s this. We tend to allow many things in our lives that drain us, deplete us, and cause us resentment.
In fact, we don’t even just allow them, we create them and support them – as of course we are the creators of our lives.
What I’m talking about here are the commitments we make that we don’t really want to make, the relationships we keep that are not respectful nor support our thriving, and even the negative self-talk and fear based thinking that we indulge over and over again without using the tools we have to shift our thinking.
Why would we want to cause our own suffering in this way?
It’s simple. The reason is to assure 2 critical things in our lives: LOVE and SAFETY.
Love and safety are two imperative human needs. In fact, on Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” in which he studied human motivation, right after our survival needs such as food, water, and shelter come love and safety.
So… we say yes to things because we want to be loved, liked, and approved of – even if those are commitments that we know we really don’t want to make. We allow relationships that are not fueling us because it’s too painful to set healthy boundaries for fear of rejection. And we even allow fear-based thinking and self-criticism to “prod” us, because the intention of that voice is to usually get us to make choices that it “thinks” will keep us safe.
Well, today I’m here to call BULLSHIT on all of that!
It doesn’t serve us to live in guilt, fear, and obligation. It exhausts us. It makes us sad. It saps our soul.
Learning to say NO has been one of the biggest gifts of my life – and I’m still not perfect at it, mind you. But deciding to protect my OWN well-being and interests above those of others has had impact beyond what I could have expected.
You see, aside from the impact that you would expect – that I would end up more energized, less overly committed, and more happy and alive (which are all true) – one of the biggest surprises is that I actually have NOT lost love and safety as a result of these boundaries!
First, people typically do get in line with the boundaries that we set (remember, others follow our lead).
But much more importantly, the self-love that has come out of protecting myself in this way has had unbounded influence on my quality of life! And the safety I feel knowing that I can trust MYSELF to take care of myself – to “have my own back – is something that no outside circumstance can take away.
That’s pretty damned powerful.