After talking to my sister, I realized that we both have trouble saying no to people. I think this stems from our upbringing. We were home schooled, taught traditional gender roles, and encouraged to be "nice". I think we misunderstood this message of kindness to mean that we couldn't say no to anyone. This is obviously not the way we want to approach the world.
I've been asking myself why I feel the need to acquiesce to others' desires. Why don't I value my desires as highly as others'? I think it boils down to wanting to be liked. If I refuse requests, then I am not likable. Helpful people make good friends, so be accommodating and people will like you.
Working as a nurse, I've learned that it is easier for me to stand up for others. I have to advocate for my patients and give them the best possible care. I need to learn to advocate for myself in the same way. I must value myself and know my worth. I don't want to be a slave to others' desires. I am only inviting stress into my life when I hand over control to someone else.
So how can I take back control of my life and decisions?
- Create specific, timely, and measurable goals for changing and evaluating my behavior.
- Don't put it off. Give an answer politely, but quickly. In respecting my own time, I must also respect the asker's.
- Initiate offers instead of only reacting to requests for my time.
- Evaluate whether I really don't want to do something or maybe I'm just uncomfortable with the newness of the situation.
Learning to be assertive takes practice. I hope to come out the other end confident and with new social skills.