“No” is a Complete Sentence

This can be a good mantra for people pleasers. And although it is perfectly acceptable to simply say no to a request, it often feels difficult to do so. The first thing that enters into the picture is the propensity to say “Yes” – and that pull tends to be quite strong. Next comes the guilt – somehow saying no indicates what a horrible person you are. Tsk. Tsk. Unfortunately, saying yes all the time makes us tired, feel as though we are being taken advantage of, and places ourselves in the “I am not important and you are” position. Ugh.

Perhaps to start, we need to think about the word ‘maybe.’ In answering someone’s request, ‘maybe’ often sounds like:

“I am not sure I can do that. Let me check my schedule and get back to you,” or

“I understand that you would like an answer right now, but I have to think about it. I will get back to you in an hour, (by lunch, by tomorrow, etc.)”ย  – This one tends to work well with kids and teenagers ๐Ÿ™‚

Then you take the time to run this quick inventory before you decide:

Do I have the time? Sometimes we just don’t have the time to squeeze one more request into our day; other days the pace is going well.

Do I have the energy? Perhaps it is the end of the week, and we are running on empty or maybe the walk we had this morning has given us some pep.

Do I have the support? Perhaps we can say yes if others are around to help carry the load, or maybe we are flying solo and it becomes too much.

Once we have the answers to these questions, our maybe can become a yes, or it might have to be a no:

“I’m sorry, I can’t commit to that. My schedule doesn’t allow it this time.”

“Going to the party isn’t going to work this time. I understand that is disappointing.” This doesn’t mean that the arguing and cajoling isn’t going to ensue – after all, you always say yes – it is okay to remind your loved one that “I say yes a lot, I try to make things work for everyone. This time, it’s a no.”ย 

And by keeping the boundary in place, that is when “No” becomes a complete sentence; having faith that everyone will survive you having said no, including yourself ๐Ÿ™‚

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The Idea of Productive Rest

We can all appreciate a good work ethic. When our head hits the pillow at night, there is a part of us that feels satisfaction from a fruitful day. And yet for some of us, the pendulum has swung too far. From the moment your feet hit the floor, it is go – go – go.

Perhaps it is Type A tendencies, expectations of self that tend to be too high, perfectionism, learned behaviours and/or developed patterns that have contributed to an association that resting is unacceptable. And as a result, when there is no more energy, and the crash comes, resting means doing nothing. Zoning out in front of the TV, feeling useless, grappling with the guilty thoughts of “I should be up doing something.”

But what about the concept of productive rest? Could it be that instead of rest being indulgent, it actually could be necessary? I often refer to our comfort system and the importance of recognizing that in order to truly be productive, we also need to rest our bodies and relax our minds.

Productive rest is planned. It is about carving out time to do something that is restful in nature and yet soothing to the soul. For me, that plan often includes reading – there is nothing like a good story to draw me in, resting my body, distracting my mind. Easy exercise, chatting with a friend, sitting by the water, walking in the forest – they all work too. It is about incorporating rest (even in little bits) throughout the day.

Giving ourselves permission to productively rest can help ease our minds too – we can begin to give up our core beliefs that somehow we are inadequate if we relax. When we can acknowledge that rest is an important part of our ‘work’ day, we give ourselves the valuable gifts of joy and peace.

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Insecurity and How it Takes the Lead

We all have insecurities. Sometimes they are ones that developed in our childhood, sometimes they can be circumstantial. We can have insecurities about the way we look, a skill that we lack, the way we parent, our abilities at work. Our insecurities can be tied to our sense of esteem or confidence, and they can be long lasting or fleeting. In any case, insecurities tend to take the lead. When feeling vulnerable, we often let our insecurity speak the loudest:

“There is no way I can handle this.”

“I hate the way I look in this dress.”

“No one will want to eat this.”

“I always sound stupid at social gatherings.”

“You’ll do it because I said so.”

“I will never get a better job.”

It is important to remember that we can’t outrun our insecurities. And because our insecure thoughts tend to be rigid and laced with criticism, they feel much more authoritative and we lean into believing them.

The reality; however, is that we are not meant to criticise ourselves. Learn from our mistakes? Absolutely. Belittle ourselves? Nope. Our soul, our life force, our inner core would never want that for ourselves. The first step is to recognize when we have allowed our insecurities to take the lead. It is from here that we can begin to identify what needs to change and begin our journey to become more secure in ourselves and our abilities. With time and effort, we can win the race. ๐Ÿ™‚

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The Power of “I am”

Words matter. Ask anyone who has been criticized in their childhood, or bullied with words, and they will tell you that it has long lasting effects.

The way we speak to ourselves; therefore, matters. Our internal dialogue is often automatic and we can carry with us the words heard (and now believed) from childhood. Repeat after me:

I am worthless.

I am ugly.

I am unlovable.

We can play around with the words “I am” to incorporate almost anything negative. “I will never meet anyone.” “No matter how hard I try, nothing ever works out for me.” “I have a black cloud following me around.”

We can call it a self-fulfilling prophesy; or we can look at it as the energy that we are sending out into the world. In either case, the result is the same – when we say those words to ourselves, we hear them. And we live them.

It is important to recognize the power of “I am.” Repeat after me:

I am worthy.

I am beautiful.

I am lovable.

Take a deep breath, and say them again. And again. And again. Take any negative statement that has been created in you, and change it. Say it before you believe it. Be determined. It will change how you see yourself, and you will begin to see results.

I am capable. I am worth it. I am brave. I am here for me.

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Important Self-Care Words

When we think about self-care, we often think about the things we do to support and honour ourselves and the time we set aside in order to achieve those tasks. Here is a reminder of some self-care words that, being on our radar, help us to create a satisfying and joyful life:

  • Growth. Are we moving forward? Creating goals for ourselves? The path to progress is movement.
  • Acceptance. Of ourselves; of others. Of knowing that we often can only control our reaction to something or someone.
  • Creativity. Such an important element – for a healthy ‘fill up’, accomplishment and joy.
  • Soulful. How are we feeding our soul? Connecting with our inner spirit is an important element of self-care.
  • Nurturing. Not only of ourselves, but of the loved ones in our lives.
  • Balance. Pretty much the key to everything.
  • Connection. We can find many ways to feel connected to others and ourselves – building our time wisely.
  • Joy. Let us not underestimate the power of feeling contentedness and joy; we can strive for it through our self-care goals.
  • Kindness. Kindness matters – always.

Adopting these words into our overall self-care needs and goals, we aim towards creating a routine for ourselves that best supports us.

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The Importance of Self-love

I came across this quote by Kim McMillen:

“When I loved myself, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits. My judgement called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving.” – Kim McMillen

How many times do we fail to see our value? Perhaps we have been in a job or relationship so long, we feel worn away. Perhaps we feel that to leave it means we have failed.

I love the line “My judgement called it disloyal; now I see it as self-loving,” as it implies that in order to stay, we have compromised or misread our value system; the truth it would seem, was found within.

I then came across a poem entitled “Self Love” by Lang Leav – it sums up perfectly what I am attempting to convey:

Self Love

Once when I was running, from all that haunted me: to the dark I was succumbing – to what hurt unbearably.

Searching for the one thing, that would set my sad soul free.

In time, I stumbled upon it, an inner calm and peace; and now I am beginning to see and to believe, in who I am becoming – and all that I’ve yet to be.

– Lang Leav

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A Thoughtful Poem About Body Image

A poem by Hollie Holden has caught my attention:

Today I asked my body what she needed,

Which is a big deal.

Considering my journey ofย 

Not Really Asking That Much.

I thought she might need water

Or protein

Or greens

Or yoga

Or supplements

Or movement.

But as I stood in the shower

Reflecting on her stretch marks,

Her roundness where I would like flatness,

Her softness where I would like firmness,

All those conditioned wishes

That form a bundle ofย 

Never-Quite-Right-Ness,

She whispered very gently:

Could you just love me like this?

– Hollie Holden

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The Importance of Connection

I have just come back from a lovely weekend away with three friends. There were many contributions to what made this weekend a wonderful example of self-care:

  • a beautiful setting. The cabin was rustic; the view was fabulous. Sitting on the front porch to see the pristine lake, a resident friendly duck and a painted turtle that liked to keep popping his head out of the water. Nature at its best will always provide the perfect setting for peace and healing.
  • wonderful food. Rich with flavours, bright with colour – a little bit of indulgence goes a long way to self-care.
  • fun drinks and some upbeat music; impromptu dance parties are simply the best.
  • the opportunity to relax, read a book by the water, taking a walk to explore. Unplugging to re-charge. ๐Ÿ™‚

And by far, what amounts to the best contributor to self-care? Connection. The copious amounts of laughter, the story-telling, the sharing of our lives, a few (good) tears, and the knowledge that faced with any challenge in life, your friends will be there for you, cheering you on and lifting you up. That is quite a blessing indeed.

Photo credit: Me! That was the name of our cottage ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Let’s ask the question “Is Self-Care Selfish?”

I often hear in therapy that “self-care feels selfish.” One of the things we explore when first hearing this statement surrounds a person’s understanding of why they feel that way.

If we tend to be someone who self-sacrifices or is a people-pleaser, self-care does not come naturally. Hence, the feeling that we are being selfish. Other times our busy lives dictate this feeling. Running around with little kids, having a commitment laden job, or trying to manage work and home life can sometimes throw time for yourself on the back burner. Giving any thought to self-care feels self-absorbed. Perhaps growing up we didn’t witness our own parents pursuing a personal interest or spending time on their own with friends.

Self-care is not about self-preoccupation.ย  In fact, when we ascribe to self-care practices, we allow ourselves to better take care of those we love. When we have the ability to first recognize and then begin to practice the art of balanced self-care, we have more calm energy. We have spent some time purposely feeding our comfort system. This leaves us less frazzled, less overwhelmed, less crabby. We have a better us to present to our family and friends.

Self-care is not selfish, is it an act of love that we choose not only for ourselves, but for those we love as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

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A Thought Worth Considering

When we are wrestling with whether or not we say yes to something that has been requested of us, we can keep this saying in mind:ย  “Don’t confuse my free time with my availability.”ย 

This is perhaps something we need to consider before saying yes. Perhaps we have set aside an entire day to do nothing but putter. Cross a few things off the list, enjoy choosing our own pace to the day, deciding how we want to spend our time moving between productivity and relaxation. Technically we are free. And so when someone asks of us a favour, we may begin to feel guilty if we don’t say yes. We may begin pushing the limits to our perception of what we perceive to be selfish.

In our examination of “Do I have the time, energy and support available to me to agree?” question, the distinction between free time and availability becomes an important one. The value we place on how we recharge our serenity is important and worthy of consideration.

Free time versus availability…a thought worth considering ๐Ÿ™‚

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