Just say NO – Aug 2022

I was on a yoga conference in Melbourne over the weekend and one of the mind/body topics was people pleasing. This is often a woman thing. Only because we women are genetically programmed to keep the cogs of society running smoothly, with kindness, connection and learning to navigate awkward moments and obnoxious people, often by saying YES, to keep everyone happy. It’s a generalisation, but fairly true with the majority of women and mothers and not always a bad thing. Can you imagine a world of grumpy NO’s to every new social interaction or new event – fun indeed. Now many of us conquered the NO response decades ago: if you’re an introvert, an empath or you just realised early in life that the world of people pleasing was a shifting goal post, you learned to say NO. But for those who are still saying YES to everything and everyone, the toll on their bodies is really high.

What happens when you say YES when you actually really want to say NO? You may end up stretched way beyond your physical and emotional capacity and the end result is often physical and emotional exhaustion through lack of self-care. You might also find yourself resenting others and feeling guilty.

People pleasing often goes back to childhood. You might not have felt worthy of being loved for yourself.  You felt you had to say YES to make everyone happy and you spent your childhood being the “nice” child which got you certain rewards but it often meant you never learned to love yourself. Your boundaries were porous and no one honoured the real you: your opinions and your desires. People pleasing is also about fear. Fear of rejection, confrontation, not being liked, being judged as selfish and fear of missing out.

So what has this got to do with yoga and your body? A life of people pleasing exhausts your third chakra in your solar plexus. In the world of yoga this is where you keep your personal power, your moral code and your integrity. Learning to say NO using your body’s signals starts with you feeling into your response to being asked whatever the “thing” is. Do you feel it in your gut? Your heart? Notice how it feels. Does it feel light and joyful or does it feel like tightness and dread? This is your Truth. Let it settle and then commit to acting on it. If you can learn to say NO more often, it will take some of the load from your nervous system and adrenals. You’ll be less tired and ultimately a happier person.

Learning to say NO authentically for you, is a life skill. And remember, every time you say NO to something that is not important to you, you say YES to something that is.

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