Something miraculous has happened. At least it’s miraculous to me. My little girl has learned to shake her head “no” with intention behind it. Now, I know, I know, soon I will rue the day when I was excited that she can express “no”, but for now, I’m filled with wonder and awe about her little being able to express something so clearly and have her needs met because of it. It is pure. It is without regard for my feelings or how she will be perceived. NO MEANS NO. What a beautiful thing.
Somewhere along the way, we forget the purity of “no” and it gets mixed up in taking other people’s reactions into account. We forget that we are not responsible for anyone’s feelings but our own and we take it upon ourselves to please people. Thus, the life of a people pleaser is born.
I’m sure when I was her age and a kid, I must have expressed “no” as much as any other kid, but then something shifted and I became a pleaser. There’s a fundamental difference between people pleasers and those who are not. Pleasers only want others to be comfortable while they themselves are nervous and worry about how they will make everything work out so OTHERS are happy. Not themselves.
It’s a world fraught with peril, the pleaser’s life. It causes ulcers and sadness and insecurity and unhappiness. I’ve banished it from my life, except on occasion when it comes roaring back with vengeance, like with my dad or boss or even my husband on occasion. I’ve always envied people who can just say “no” and have no repercussion about it. My husband can do that and I respect the hell out of him.
It’s cunning, this pleasing mentality. You think you have it licked and yet, WHAMMO, there it is. You are cowering in spirit to someone that doesn’t even want you to be. They want you to be strong and firm and stand up for what you want, and yet, and yet, you do it again. You cave to their needs, wants, desires, and think of yourself last.
It’s not to be confused with being selfless or nurturing. There’s something else at play here. I am a caretaker and a nurturer and I love that about myself, but when it turns ever so subtly into being a pleaser, I have to check myself.
The people who love and respect me want me to be strong. They want me to say “no”. This all finally hit me when I watched my little girl saying “no”. I am proud. I am so happy for her. I am thrilled that she has harnessed this power and while I have to be careful, I will encourage her to voice her “no’s”. I don’t want her to be a pleaser. I want her to proudly proclaim her truth, even if I don’t like it. THIS is the power of no.
I’m not always going to like it. I may get angry and frustrated and even disagree, but dammit, she’s going to have the freedom to feel all the feelings. And I have the great gift of being able to help her to process them all.
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