When your relationship status with yourself is “complicated”
I have hosted my Confident Women workshop at least 12-15 times and there seems to be a pattern where the women get hung up when pursuing confidence. Their primary obstacle to moving toward confidence and authenticity is the fear of how they will be perceived. For example, they may pass on a gym membership because that time away from their family would be considered selfish. They will watch their sister’s kids after a full day because they’re already watching their own. They might not speak up about something that is bothering them for fear of how it will be received. But they continue do DO. They do too much. They over-commit for the same reason they don’t meet their own needs. That same fear of how they’re perceived.
Can you relate?
Is there an option to say anything but “Yes” to 95% of requests? Do you consider yourself a People Pleaser? Perhaps you spin all of the plates, worry about the future, create a detailed plan to prevent possible setbacks and still manage to feel inadequate.
You see how much you’re doing. You even admit it is too much and that it is creating obstacles in your life. It is getting in the way of the things you used to enjoy. Who has time for hobbies, anyways?
The obvious remedy would be to do less, right?
Yes, this seems to be the most appropriate conclusion, yet we still don’t do less when the opportunity arises. Doing less means saying ‘No.’
Saying ‘No’ to you sister, your mother, your small group leader, your neighbor, your peer, your partner. Saying ‘No’ to things you typically say ‘Yes’ to.
Saying ‘No’ isn’t just saying ‘No’. By making room for ourselves and “doing less” we run the risk of disappointing those closest to us. If can feel like we’re letting them down. At that moment it doesn’t feel like doing less is helping. In the moment, saying No can feel like:
- “I don’t know how to do that,” which means I’m stupid.
- “I am unable to do that,” which means I’m weak.
- “I am incapable of doing that,” which is means I’m inadequate.
- “I don’t want to do that,” or “I don’t have time to do that,” which means I’m selfish.
Our decision is no longer between doing more and doing less. It now has to do with how we’re perceived. We start to get closer to confirming our negative messages. If saying no means you’re selfish then you will be more inclined to say yes to doing more until doing less is no longer categorized as selfish. Do you see the rub? Our all or nothing thinking can interfere with the changes we desire to make in our lives. This is one of the challenges of pursuing authenticity.
Not sure if you can give up your all or nothing thinking? Don’t worry! We can use your all or nothing thinking to encourage growth, flexibility and well-being. If you’re all about your family, make sure that picture includes your partner, finances, recreation and your mental health. If you’re ALL about your career, incorporate the importance of emotional support, networking and rest to sustain your drive. Make saying, “No” part of saying, “Yes” to you and your goals.
Look, I’m all for wringing yourself out and being spent on the best things in life. Making eye contact with your children, stepping out of your comfort zone, reaching out to new and old friends, having difficult conversations, standing up for what you believe in, having an open mind, working your ass off, laughing your ass off, feeling your feelings, flirting with your partner, and grieving your losses. But do them because doing them is part of who you are, not what you “should” do or what you fear someone will think of you if you don’t.
We need to let go of what other people are thinking. Of what we think they’re thinking. It is difficult to be ourselves when we’re so focused on being someone who is “acceptable”.
Ashlee Secord, LMFT provides counseling services at Thrive Therapy in Burnsville, MN. Ashlee is passionate about the confidence and authenticity and is familiar with the steps toward growing comfortable in your skin. Check our workshop calendar for the next Confident Women workshop.