I have recently found several of your articles and have loved them! I think they provide great insight and point of view. I have been trying to find one if you have one regarding "saying no and not feeling guilty." For example, if I get invited to a friend gathering and I respond with "no," but then feel guilty/manipulated into going or being a bad friend afterward. Are there any tips you have regarding it?
The first thing you must do is understand why you feel guilty taking care of yourself and choosing what you want to do. You have every right to make choices that make you happy. Why would you feel guilty for doing that?
5 fear-based beliefs
Most people find they have one or more of the following fear-based, subconscious beliefs. Do these feel like something you might believe?
1. "If I say no, then I am selfish."
You might have a subconscious belief (possibly learned in childhood) that says if you take care of yourself at all, it makes you a selfish, bad person. You may believe good people should sacrifice themselves to make others happy, but this is not true.
The truth is, self-care is wise and healthy, and you must take care of yourself or you will soon have nothing left to give. It is wise to balance taking care of yourself and taking care of others. In order to maintain this balance, you must say no and choose your happiness half the time.
2. "If I disappoint other people, I will be rejected or judged."
You might have experienced this at some point in your life, so you believe this is a rule. The problem is it's not a rule; it's a belief — which means it's not a fact.
Most people can handle hearing "no" without punishing or rejecting you for it. If they do reject you for it, they probably aren't the kind of person you want as a friend. A real friend will support you in doing what's best for you.
It's important to note that you may have taught the people in your life to manipulate you because you always feel guilty when you say no. You may have created these rules of engagement. The good news is that you can change the rules any time you want. You can retrain people in your life to "get over it" when they get disappointed on occasion. You can also say no with love and respect, and most people can handle it and will still love you.
3. "I can't handle confrontation, so it's easier to give in."
This subconscious belief might have come from a bad experience in your past. You may have decided that in most situations, it's safer to sacrifice yourself than risk a fight. The truth is, you can usually enforce boundaries in a kind way that won't lead to conflict.
If you are respectful and kind, yet firm, you can handle these issues with strength and love. If they do turn ugly, you can excuse yourself and refuse to participate until the other person can speak to you with respect. If you have people in your life that cannot handle an occasional "no," that is their problem, not yours. You must maintain a healthy balance and not feel guilty for doing so.
4. "Other people's happiness is more important than mine."
You may have learned as a child that sacrificing yourself or putting your happiness last makes you righteous. This is not true. It actually makes you are acting like a doormat and it makes people lose respect for you. You are the same in importance as everyone else. You have to see yourself as equally important or others won't treat you like you are.
5. "Pleasing other people means they will like and value me."
This is, again, not necessarily true. Sometimes even when you sacrifice for people, it won't make them value or appreciate you. They may even lose respect for you because you don't take care of yourself. They could treat you worse and take your sacrifices for granted.
Occasionally, saying no — especially to the people in your house — means they are more likely to appreciate it when you do say yes.
Which of these fear-based beliefs might be driving your fear of saying no?
Create new beliefs
The incredible thing about finding the faulty beliefs behind your behavior is that you can now change those beliefs. They may be deeply ingrained in your subconscious programming and hard to change, but your conscious mind is stronger and you have the power to choose, in any moment, a different belief that will immediately change how you feel about the situation.
You can write some new beliefs (in your own words) and claim them as your truth moving forward. You might want to put them somewhere you can see them daily and work on consciously choosing them whenever you are tempted to people please.
Here are some new beliefs that might serve you more:
Create new boundaries
You cannot change any behavior until you change the beliefs that are driving it. You can also use your new beliefs to help you write some new boundary rules that apply to specific situations. Write these new boundary rules down on paper, don't just think them. Writing them down makes them more concrete.
Here is an example of great boundary rule:
You can do this.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.