It’s such a short , simple word. Often, it’s one of the first words that come out of our babies’ mouths. So why is it that so many grown women – especially moms – have such a hard time spitting it out?
Personally, I was a “Yes Woman” for several reasons, but they had one thing in common: They were all rooted in fear.
1.) Fear of Disappointing Others. The thought of someone not thinking well of me or being disappointed in me propelled me like a hamster on a wheel.
2.) Fear of Not Being “Enough.” When you root your worth in your performance, and you aren’t constantly performing, what are you worth? I didn’t think I’d like the answer.
3.) Fear of Being Indispensible. “If I don’t do this, who will? It won’t get done! No one can do it as well as I can!
4.) Fear of NOT Being Indispensible. This is even worse. What if someone CAN do it as well as I can?
So, what turned this stressed-out performance junkie around? I changed my way of living when God gradually opened my eyes to the damage I was doing to my marriage and my children.
Change didn’t happen overnight. Realizing I had a problem was just the first step. Old habits and ways of thinking die hard. But in case there are any other ‘No’-phobic mamas out there, I thought I’d share a few things that helped me:
* I wrote down my list of priorities. I looked at them daily at first to remind myself of the people and tasks God has given me above all others. When someone asked me to do something, I’d say, “Can I get back to you?” And then I’d go back to my priority list. If it took away from my priorities, I said, “No.” If it enhanced or built on my priorities, I said, “Yes.” This exercise was critical to breaking my “Yes” habit.
Over time, with practice, I didn’t have to look at the list anymore and I was strong enough to say “No” without stalling.
* I asked God to help me. When I felt weak and unable to summon the courage to say that little two-letter word, I prayed.
A while back, I happened to catch part of a show on TLC about people with Anxiety and Phobias. As part of their treatment, counselors gradually exposed them to their fears. Over time, they were “desensitized” and realized that their fears were unfounded.
The same thing happened when I began to say “No.” Each time it became a little easier – a little less guilt-ridden. And I realized that all the things I feared were really baseless. As I saw the health and peace boundary-setting brought to myself and my family, I was even more motivated to stick to my guns. Instead of feeling inadequate and guilty, I felt freedom.
More than a decade later, would I ever go back to the way things were?
In a word – NO!