I have always been a people pleaser and a yes sayer. Guided by a ‘what will they think?’ mentality I have often found myself doing (and agreeing to do) things that I later regret or wonder how the fuck I got myself into that situation in the first place.
You would think that following my cancer diagnosis this would have been one of the first mentalities to go – I mean I have done a shit ton of internal and spiritual work – but sadly this was not the case.
Instead, even when I was at my sickest and receiving chemo and awaiting major surgery, I found myself agreeing to be filmed in not one, but two(!) documentaries. Exciting? Yes. Exhausting and time consuming? Absofuckinglutely!
And this is just one example! I could give you at least a hundred more but I’m sure you get the idea or, at least, can relate.
I was reflecting on this recently and began to wonder whether I say yes to please others or, actually, because of the fear of missing out if I say no. So, to test this theory in a typical ‘all or nothing Fi approach to life’ I decided that for one month I would say yes…to everything! It was supposed to start the day after my fire walk as I was feeling bold and refreshed and I thought it would lead to new adventures, encounters and more.
However, instead, something unexpected happened. I found myself saying no – a lot. In fact even to things I wanted to say yes to. The complete opposite of what I had planned!!
Now, having spent many years as a ‘people pleaser’ and quite often as a ‘yes person’ this was an odd rebellion. It felt like a switch had been triggered and my sub-conscious had become so resistant to me being a yes person that it was directing me in the completely opposite direction.
I pondered this for several months and, in doing so, I began to really reflect on what I was saying yes to and who these people were I was trying to please.
I realised, like so many other things in life, that it is a societal illusion that we must please others and that, in reality, there is no need – at all! -to please ‘them’ – whoever ‘they’ may be – but instead to honour only our own hearts, values and purpose. As a good friend of mine puts it “we are responsible only for our own happiness.” She also tells me that ‘they’ are usually assholes! She actually has a pretty kick ass website I recommend while we’re on the subject…
So, once again, I took an ‘all or nothing’ approach and decided to start a ‘yes fast’. That’s right, I made the decision to say no to everything.
In just the first week I turned down three press interviews, a research study and being filmed in a third documentary! And, miraculously, the world did not fall apart when I said no. Surprising I know…
Now, the ‘old me’ would have said yes to all of this, despite having just had 10 days in hospital and being very very sick, to please others and/or to not ‘miss out’. Instead I got to have valuable recovery time, focus on my health (in every sense of the word), spend quality time with my loved ones and truly honour my heart, soul and body in a way that felt right to me.
Over the following weeks I continued to say no and, in doing so, I leant three valuable lessons.
1. I now know what I want to say yes to. If the ‘thing’ in question uplifts me, inspires me, makes my heart sing or fills me with excitement and joy in that moment then it’s a yes. Lunch with a friend – yes. Day at the spa by myself – yes. Penguin auction – yes. Nap on the sofa – yes. And so on and so on.
And, on my better days when I have more spoons of energy, a press interview becomes a yes, but not at the expense of my health and absolutely not to please someone else.
2. I also learnt how to say no. Now this may seem like a really simple thing to do, and on paper it certainly seems that way. However, how many times have you said yes when your heart and soul were screaming no but you didn’t know how to say it because you were worried you would a. Let someone down; b. Hurt someone’s feelings; c. Lower someone’s opinion of you….or any other number of reasons?
However, saying no is actually really easy. Here are a few examples:
- Let me get back to you.
• Thank you so much for asking but that won’t work for me just now.
You aren’t saying it will always be no, but just that it is no for now. This has been great for me while I’ve been needing time to heal – I’m not saying ‘never’, I’m saying ‘not now’.
• Yes, but can we do it this way?
Maybe the date, location, timings, activity (etc) don’t work but you still want to say yes. For example, a friend might ask me to meet for dinner. My energy levels are best during the day so I might say ‘I’d love to meet but is there a lunch time that works for you?’
• Just say ‘no, thank you’.
Sometimes the answer is just simply ‘no’. And, if done in a kind way, it doesn’t need an explanation. A simple ‘thank you’ is more than enough.
3. I’ve learnt that saying ‘no’ doesn’t cause you to miss out. In fact, when you say ‘no’ to things you don’t want to do you free up physical and emotional space to say ‘yes’ to things you do want to do – and that’s way more fun!
Learning how to say no has been one of the most empowering changes I’ve made in my life. I’m finally putting my physical, emotional and spiritual well-being first and, more importantly, I’ve given myself permission to honour and respect myself enough to be completely authentic in my choices. This, of course, is scary and raw and exciting all at the same time because, as hard as we try, I think, in reality, we always hold a bit of ourselves back to protect ourselves and others. But when we finally step into our true selves and start to say ‘yes’ to who we really are and ‘no’ to who other people think thinks we are, wonderful things start to happen.
Also, when we start to say no because we value and honour ourselves, we give others the permission to do the same – and then everyone’s happier!
I wonder if any of you lovelies have ever done a ‘yes fast’? Or maybe you did a ‘say yes to everything’ month? Or can you relate to trying to please others?
I would love to hear your thoughts and reflections.
Above all, I hope this article inspires you to start saying ‘yes’ to what makes your heart sing and ‘no’ to everything else.
Love and light, Fi xx
Please come and say hi!xxx