In “NO”vember I’m saying “yes” to the kind of clarity that’ll inspire some new life decisions and motivate me to take action vs continuing to coast on auto-pilot like I have for most of 2022. It’s time to figure out which way I’d like to grow so I don’t remain stuck in status quo.
The previous two years – Covid lockdown – were dedicated to career “pivoting” and social isolation which fueled my anxiety and depleted me. I was exhausted from the mental and emotional stamina it required, without the balance of real human connection. Not to mention the ever-growing socio-political polarization and racial tension that compounded my stress.
In “NO”vember I’m saying “no” to feeling sorry for myself this holiday season. The last eight weeks of the year often feel like a balled up fist of loss and loneliness and a sucker punch to the chest. I have so many empty holiday memories because of growing up in a cult that celebrated nothing. Would-be cherished times and traditions with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles were unfairly taken from me. My sister and I, the Lamb sisters, are truly the black sheep of the family. But at least we have each other.
In my career I’m saying “no” to working six days/week ever again. Or schlepping around the city between private homes, Pilates studios and Massage therapy offices to be as accommodating as possible to as many people as possible. Nope. Been there, done that. That’s a business model based in fear that left me so depleted and completely envious of clients as they snored comfortably on my massage table.
When I say “yes” but wanna say “no” I feel an instant pang of regret. I’ve failed myself by ignoring my needs and my intuition. It’s that all too familiar pattern from my childhood that I swore I’d never repeat. It stems from being raised in an environment where love felt conditional, which created this persistent fear of disappointing others and a constant need for approval. To be self-sacrificing was considered the “righteous” thing to do. Putting myself first was considered selfish. So, I’m a recovering people-pleaser.
When someone tells me “no” my first reaction is to get all up in my feelings. Yep, I feel disappointed, butt-hurt and wonder “How could they possibly say “no” to ME!?” And then I do the psychological dance in my head which looks like a technicolor play-by-play of our most recent interactions to understand what I could’ve done to elicit a “no”. It’s crazy how a simple “no” can feel like a personal attack that sends me spiraling.
I wouldn’t say it it’s easy to say “no” but it’s definitely getting easier. After decades of people-pleasing I’m finally less concerned about disappointing others than I am about disappointing myself. The heavy feelings of resentment and regret are no longer worth saying “yes” to things that aren’t in alignment with my spirit. But I was raised to put everyone else first. My religion taught me that the very definition of JOY is “Jehovah. Others. You”. In that order! I was coerced into believing that my wants, needs, goals and desires were selfish.