NO. (Also Known As “We Need To Get Over Ourselves”)
Parallel process is a clinical term used to describe the common occurrence in therapy when the therapist’s own experience is reflected in the client’s. It is when a client comes in grieving over the loss of a loved one while the therapist has only just experienced his or her own loss as well. It is a therapist helping a client through feelings of anger and hurt that the therapist has also just recently confronted.
But, here’s the thing: we are all in parallel process. Too often in life it goes unsaid.
Here is where I say it.***
Let me preface this post with just this: When you finish reading it I want you to sit me down and read it back to me. Ok? Then we can start a support group.
WARNING: This is an intervention
Many of us women (and men) complain that we have a hard time saying “No”. I think it is time we talk about WHY we have a hard time saying no. Time to draw back the shades. Time to shed some light. Time to be real. No sugar coating here.
I am giving you plenty of warning. You might want to stop right now. You don’t have to read any further. (Then you wouldn’t read it back to ME either!)
Well, ok. You’re still here. Sigh. Let’s do this…let’s rip this bandaid off.
Contrary to popular belief, the inability to say “no” has very little to do with the other person…
It has nothing to do with our concern for others…well, maybe our concern about what others think of us, but there is a big difference.
Has nothing to do with our incredible philanthropist spirit.
Has nothing to do with our passion to help mankind.
The inability to say “no” has everything to do with us.
Our fear of disappointing others.
Our fear of disapproval.
Our fear of losing our reputation.
It also has to do with a lot more…
We don’t say no because we think we are the only one who can do the job (savior complex).
We don’t say no because we care more about what that person thinks about us in the moment than with being honest and having integrity.
We don’t say no because we care more about building up our own self image than we do about being real.
We don’t say no because we want to work hard and do more so that we never, ever, ever owe anyone anything. For some people it goes further…you want to always be in a “one up” position…you want to work hard, do more…so that people ALWAYS owe YOU (martyr complex).
We LOVE to feel NEEDED, but HATE to feel NEEDY.
Oh, to actually be in a position to NEED someone else? Oh, God…never! That would feel way to vulnerable!
To not do everything on our own…by ourselves? To get people to HELP us? Whoa…that might require some good people and communication skills, tolerance for imperfection, and MORE TIME.
It is high time you and I get over ourselves.
This applies to saying no regarding our children, too.
You sign your kid up for every last thing because you either don’t want to disappoint others, you care about your kid’s reputation (or your own), OR you think your kid is so incredibly outstanding that he or she MUST be exposed to each and every opportunity out there.
It is high time you and I get over ourselves…and over our kids, too.
Yes, in a very real sense each of us is special and has unique gifts to offer the world.
We also have to be careful that our western, individualized, me-centered culture doesn’t influence our spirituality, too, because…
…in a very real sense we are also nothing. Nada.
God doesn’t NEED you to do anything.
He invites you to be part of His work.
Not yours. Not your reputation. Not you as savior. Not you as martyr.
Not you so stressed out, secretly angry and bitter, frustrated to no end, physically sick because you just have to do everything and be everywhere.
This is a tough love post. And, most of American culture needs it.
We are a society of co-dependents.
We LOVE to be needed. No matter how sick it makes us.
We are desperate for approval…addicted to it, really…that we will say yes even when we know we really can’t. We figure we will work it out later…only to disappoint people in the end.
It is more honest, more real…takes more integrity… to say “no” in the beginning. No, I am so sorry…I will not be able to make it to that party.
Saying no in the beginning is the harder thing to do for US because we have to live knowing…tolerating…that for just a few seconds someone is disappointed with…possibly even disapproving of …us. Gasp!
Approval and being needed…establishing our reputation…have become our gods….our idols.
We are energetic, workaholics who seek out what needs to be done…and we do it.
And, we get praised…adulations…”You are amazing! How do you do it all?”
Yes, we are approval addicts.
We forget the old saying…”When I say no it gives someone else the opportunity to say yes.”
We forget that saying “no” is actually a gift to others AND ourselves when saying “yes” to everything is really only about us.
We haven’t figured out that saying “yes” is sometimes the most selfish thing we can do.
Does this mean I don’t think true altruism exists? No…I most certainly do.
Do I think there aren’t a lot of people out there who could say “yes” more? Absolutely, I do…as long as it is to the right things and for the right reasons. But, I’m not talking to them right now. In fact, maybe it is all relative and about perspective. Maybe, we could learn a lot from those people who seem to hesitate to say “yes”. I mean, are they really just bad human beings with no heart like we have always assumed? Could they have some wisdom we don’t?
Get over yourself. Get over saying no. Get over your conversational competitions of who is busier, who is the most tired, who has the most going on.
I promise your friends will get over it, too. (and, remember this post when someone says no to YOU…sometimes I think we have grown accustomed to everyone saying yes…all the time)
Now, go ahead…read it back to me. I’m bracing myself.
It’s hard to imagine that you would ever suffer from “…fear of disappointing others…..fear of disapproval…..fear of losing (your) reputation” or any of those kind of things. That makes you appear too real. I consider you to be rather high on the chart of perfection. Now, consider me for a moment. If people knew the real me, I fear that they would not like me and would perhaps reject me. So, I just keep saying “yes” and then hate myself sometimes for it. Because I know all my flaws (the real me), I am compelled to acknowledge that God is the doer of every good thing that the “real” me does. Does that make any sense? I’m getting a little confused, myself. I really did enjoy your post.
I hope we are still friends!
Uncle Lowell! Of course we are still friends! Thank you so much for reading and taking time to comment! And, of course…absolutely I believe that God is the doer of all good things we do. He is the Author of all good things (James 1:17). I just don’t think WE have to be! We might start thinking we are God, too! I think God calls us to say no sometimes for the right reasons. Barak wanted Deborah to go into battle with him, but Deborah knew that the Lord had not called her…God had called Barak. So she said “no”. She stayed on the mountain while Barak went into battle. Deborah knew her role and it wasn’t to fight the battle for Barak. Sometimes we might fight battles that belong to those we love because it is hard to watch them suffer. There is a fine balance between helping and taking over. I am working hard to stay the course with this lesson! Much love to you!!!!
[…] was convicted by emily stone’s blog this morning. she […]
I mean, you c
I mean, you could’ve just called me and talked to me about this. You didn’t have to write a whole article! 😉 Haha – This is SO me! Unfortunately, I don’t even have time for the support group, but if you invited me, you know I’d say YES!
I know you would, Steph! You know this made me laugh. We have a lot in common.
You don’t know me…but you know me!
It seems like I “know” a lot of people! I think our support group would be rather large! Thank you for coming by to read and taking time to comment!
Loved that. In fact, I am in the process of saying no to several things right now! When will the support group meet? haha!
Good for you, Amy! I am getting better at it… I’ll let you know about the support group! 😉 By the way…so excited for your family! Thrilled. I forgot to tell you this, but I shared your blog on our “Saturday Sampling” this past Saturday. Your story is precious.
[…] I wrote a post a while back about the importance of saying “no” and I still believe that. […]
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[…] Whether you tell a loved one you won’t talk for them or you tell them no to some holiday plans…someone is going to be sad, upset, angry, or even just a little put off by you this holiday season. That is ok. Think of the last time someone told you “No”. It didn’t feel good, did it? Did you get over it? Sure you did (I hope so!). We all have to manage those kinds of feelings on a daily basis. It is called being an adult. If you think you can juggle and navigate all the feelings of your loved ones this season so that they never feel any negative feelings towards you…well, you must think you are pretty powerful and we need to have another discussion (see my future post on narcissism). You can also read more here. […]
[…] Are you a martyr? Do you get a sense of identity for wearing yourself out for others? Or, maybe you are struggle with a addiction to the identity of achievement and workaholism. People in these situations sometimes carry with them low grade depression that many people do not see. Learn to say no. Do some honest self-reflection about why you say “yes” and remember that every time you say “yes” you are saying “no” to something else that could be meaningful for you…like time for family, friends, self-care…rest. […]